Obama's Turkish Dilemma



by F. Stephen Larrabee

April 6, 2009

President Obama’s visit to Ankara this week highlights Turkey’s growing strategic importance to the United States — and a high stakes dilemma for the President and for U.S. strategic interests.

Turkey today plays an increasingly important role in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, and its cooperation is critical to achieving U.S. objectives in all three areas. Turkey also enjoys strong ties to Iran and Syria, which could be helpful as Washington seeks to establish a dialogue with both countries.

Turkish cooperation could be important in facilitating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and promoting stability once they leave. Turkey is even emerging as an important transit route for the transport of Caspian oil and gas.

However, the administration’s efforts to repair relations with Turkey could be derailed by a Congressional resolution introduced last month condemning Turkey for the mass deportation and death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915....

The remainder of this op-ed can be found at ac360.blogs.cnn.com.

F. Stephen Larrabee holds the Corporate Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

This commentary originally appeared on CNN on April 6, 2009. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.