Briefing on the Turkey – US visa dispute

12 October 2017

The Turkey – US visa dispute is unprecedented, revealing wider changes in the factors underpinning their relationship

  • The US embassy in Turkey has stopped issuing visas after one of its staff was detained and a warrant issued for another’s arrest, with the Turkish embassy in the US responding in kind
  • Anti-American sentiment has risen again in Turkey amid accusations of US involvement in last year’s coup, which in the past would have been tempered by a close back-channel relationship
  • This appears to have now changed, with differences over Syria in particular undermining the traditional bases on which the US and Turkey cooperate

On October 8, the US embassy in Ankara announced it had closed its visa services in Turkey after a local member of staff at its Istanbul consulate was detained on terrorism charges. Metin Topuz, who worked as a liaison between Turkish and American police, is accused of links to the Gulen Movement, the religious group accused of spearheading last year’s failed coup attempt. The Turkish government responded almost immediately to the US action by closing both its own visa services in Washington and its online visa system for US citizens.

This deterioration in relations comes after a period of growing tensions between the US embassy and the Turkish government. In March, another Turkish member of staff at the US consulate in Adana was arrested for alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)…

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Photo credit: Xinhua/Yin Bogu