This latest diplomatic dust-up follows a similar incident last year where Turkey and the U.S. suspended visa services for travel between the two countries. Until relations between the countries are repaired, we can expect more of these altercations.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry warned citizens to avoid travel to the U.S., citing the growing risk of terrorist attacks and other violence — a day after the State Department said the same about Turkey.
The U.S. on Wednesday urged its citizens to reconsider travel plans to Turkey, noting that terrorist groups explicitly target Western tourists and expatriates, while Turkish security forces detain individuals “based on scant evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated.” The Turkish statement echoed that language and referenced various past attacks in the U.S. including in Charlottesville, Ohio University, and a mosque in Minnesota.
The tit-for-tat diplomacy fits the recent deterioration in relations between the NATO allies. The Turkish government is angry at the U.S. refusal to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a cleric it blames for a coup attempt in 2016. There are also tensions over charges against several Turks accused of helping a Turkish-Iranian gold trader evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, and U.S. support for Kurdish groups in Syria that Turkey considers to be terrorist organizations.
Ties have also been strained by Turkey’s decision to purchase a missile defense system from Russia, while both sides suspended visa services last year amid the fallout over Turkey’s arrest of a local employee of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. Turkey summoned the U.S. Charge d’Affairs, Philip Kosnett, in Ankara on Thursday to express its anger over the travel warning, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
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Photo credit: Passengers board a Turkish Airlines flight in Istanbul. Turkey has warned its citizens about travel to the U.S. George Redgrave / Flickr