The Iraq war of 2003 triggered a surge of anti-Americanism in Turkey and strained relations between the two governments. The U.S. invasion was deeply unpopular among Turks, a third of whom believe that the United States is the world’s greatest threat to global peace, according to a recent poll. In the spring of 2004, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went so far as to accuse the U.S. of state terrorism in Iraq. In short, after a half century the special bond between Turkey and the United States seemed to be fraying.
In October 2004, a Network 20/20 delegation went to Turkey with three goals in mind:
- Acquire a better understanding of Turkish-U.S. bilateral relations
- Gain insights into Turkey’s aspirations for European Union (EU) accession and its role in the greater Middle East; and
- Make concrete recommendations for improving U.S.-Turkish relations.
After an intensive week of meetings in Istanbul and Ankara with senior government officials, military officers, business leaders, journalists, scholars, Islamist activists, and representatives from the nonprofit world, we reached certain preliminary conclusions and have the following recommendations.