A former U.S. official said Washington has been using its support of PKK-affiliated groups in Syria as retaliation for Parliament's refusal to pass a motion to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Speaking to Takvim daily, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said some cliques in the Pentagon are still vexed by the denial of the motion, which reportedly made the Iraqi invasion more costly for the U.S. administration, while responding the question of why Washington did not lend a helping hand to Turkey in its fight against Daesh.
He responded by saying that although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis supports Turkey's stance, the divergence between the U.S. Army and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has led to rising tension between Ankara and Washington. He added that some commanders in CENTCOM are still angry about Turkey's stance on the March 1 motion. On March 1, 2003, a motion to allow the Turkish military to participate in the U.S-led coalition's invasion of Iraq, along with permission for foreign troops to be stationed in Turkey for this purpose, was overruled by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) by a tight margin.
Despite the fact that 264 deputies voted in favor of the mandate, it fell just three votes short of the required 267 votes, and the mandate was rejected. The voting was one of the first foreign policy challenges of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which came to power in November 2002, and the results were hotly debated at the time and for years to come. In addition to the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) 178 votes, 72 members of the AK Party voted against the mandate, while 19 others abstained from voting.
Turkish-U.S. relations have been severely strained due to the latter's support of the People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as extension of the PKK terrorist organization.
Bryza also said bilateral relations are at their lowest point since 1974, when Washington put an embargo on Ankara due to its intervention in Cyprus to protect the Turkish minority on the island from the Greek Cypriot army's aggression.
He added that the U.S. could lose Turkey as an ally as a result of lobbying carried out by Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members, which promote negative perceptions of Turkey to investors, think tanks and elites in New York and elsewhere. Bryza underlined that FETÖ members carry a lot of influence in Congress and the media.
The U.S.' reluctance to extradite FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, one of the most wanted people in Turkey, also remains a deep rift in the relations between the two countries. Ankara formally requested Gülen be extradited on July 19, 2016. Since then, however, Turkish officials believe there has been insufficient progress on the matter. Ankara accuses FETÖ of attempting a coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, killing over 250 civilians.
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