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Turkey: security cooperation with US government 'has ended'

US troops patrol in their military vehicles near the border with Turkey, on December 17, 2020 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images]
US troops patrol in their military vehicles near the Syrian border with Turkey, on December 17, 2020 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images]

Joint training and intelligence-sharing between Turkey and the US have reportedly been ended gradually since 2016, Middle East Eye has reported. The move was apparently part of a process initiated by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

According to the London-based news outlet, which cited Turkish sources close to the prominent minister, he suspended a number of joint programmes and cooperation gradually due to the fallout between Ankara and Washington since he took office five years ago. The activities suspended include joint training by Turkish and US police forces, early access to intelligence on suspects, and other intelligence information usually shared between the two.

Despite those restrictions, the suspensions were largely limited to the early access to shared data and intelligence that the US had previously enjoyed. "It didn't completely impede the cooperation with the American authorities, because they were able to receive the relevant information once the investigations have been completed and submitted to the courts," one anonymous official is quoted as saying.

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The increasingly strained relations between the US and Turkey over the past few years have long been known, but Soylu's suspensions also apparently had a personal touch. He and other ministers were twice sanctioned temporarily by Washington, first in 2018 because of the detention of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, and then again the year after over the Turkish operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria.

Furthermore, officials such as Soylu have long suspected the US of having a hand in the failed coup attempt by segments of the Turkish military in 2016, especially due to Washington's refusal to extradite the suspected mastermind of the coup, Fethullah Gülen. On Wednesday last week, Soylu openly voiced those suspicions, stating that the coup attempt "happened with an order from them [the US]."

During a televised speech he also accused the United Arab Emirates of involvement. "The UAE and the US are the perpetrators of 15 July [the coup]. The UAE is the most important operational partner of the US." In that same TV appearance, Soylu also revealed that he refused to grant a meeting with US Ambassador David Satterfield. "I won't award him any appointment. I would only do it if they begin to show respect to this country," he insisted.

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