WASHINGTON–A bipartisan letter sent to the Turkish Embassy from 10 US senators on December 7 sharply rebuked the Turkish government for the “downward trend of relations between Turkey and Israel this past year,” reported the Weekly Standard’s Blog on Monday.
The letter, led by Senators Nelson and Collins, was addressed to the then Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy, who abruptly resigned from his post and requested a transfer to the Turkish Foreign Ministry after President Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington DC on December 7.
Nevertheless it stressed that the Senators had “grown increasingly concerned” over the “downward trend of relations between Turkey and Israel this past year.”
The senators point in particular to the Turkish government’s exclusion of Israel from a recent NATO exercise, prompting the United States to pull out and the exercise to be canceled, the Standard said, adding that Senator Gillibrand also noted the “pro-Iran statements” recently emanating from Istanbul in a letter to supporters.
“Turkey’s exclusion of Israel from the recent exercise, Anatolian Eagle, which was also to include U.S. and NATO forces, was both unexpected and disappointing,” the letter said. “It is our hope that any political obstacles between Turkey and Israel can be overcome and that historic levels of cooperation will resume as quickly as possible.”
Despite the rebuke, the Senators said they agreed with Obama’s overall vision of a “reinvigorated US-Turkish relations.” The letter described Turkey as a “vital leader” in regional security and a “key” U.S. partner in NATO and the UN Security Council and commended Erdogan for his trip to the United States. It also praised the Turkish embassy for its role in “working to strengthen the U.S.-Turkish partnership.”
According to the blog, however, President Obama’s repeated overtures to the Muslim world have failed to lead relations with Turkey on a productive course. One source, it said, claimed Erdogan’s meeting with President Obama was “tense” and included some “sharp exchanges, primarily over Iran.”
“The recent visit of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is the peg for the letter. That trip, according to an official at one major Jewish organization, marked the first visit in recent memory of a Turkish prime minister that did not include a meeting with leaders of America’s Jewish community,” the blog said.
Signing onto the letter, which can be viewed here, were: Senators Bill Nelson, Susan Collins, Benjamin Cardin, Kristen E. Gillibrand, James Risch, James Inhofe, Russell Feingold, Frank Lautenberg, Edward Kaufman, and Robert Casey, Jr.