Turkey's relations to US 'at lowest since Iraq war'


Turkish-U.S. relations are at their lowest point in nearly 15 years amid a row over visas, a leading academic said Monday.

The U.S. embassy on Sunday announced the suspension of non-immigration visas for Turkish nationals following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Turkey.

"There is faction in the U.S. lobbying against Turkey, looking for revenge for the March 1 motion and is trying to put Turkey in a difficult situation," Ufuk Ulutas, the director for foreign policy research at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) in Ankara, said.

Ulutas was referring to the March 1, 2003, parliamentary vote to refuse U.S. troops permission to operate from Turkish bases and ports in the invasion of Iraq.

He said an "anti-Turkish front" in Washington was benefiting from domestic "shattering" in the U.S.

"They take steps against Turkey in the area given to them as the Foreign Ministry [State Department] lacks control and the White House is too weak to influence other institutions," he added.

Mesut Hakki Casin, a professor of political science at Istanbul's Ozyegin University, said the visa row could mark the "breaking point" in ties between the NATO allies.

He also claimed visa suspension between NATO countries was "against international law".

Ties between Turkey and ex-President Barack Obama's administration had grown cold over issues such as the Turkish request for the extradition of Fetullah Gulen -- leader of the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETÖ) accused of being behind last year's defeated coup -- and U.S. support for the PKK/PYD terrorist organization in Syria.

Ankara had hoped to forge closer ties with the President Donald Trump's government.

Naci Bostanci, a deputy parliamentary speaker, said the visa crisis stemmed from a "decision directed at the public in the first hand".

He urged both sides not to take "injurious decisions affecting the people".

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