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After decades as a key ally on NATO’s southern flank, Turkey, under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has proved a fickle friend to the United States, drawing closer in its times of need but going its own way whenever it felt the wind in its sails.
Turkey is now seeking to reinvigorate its relations with the United States, European Union and Israel. But this comes only after the self-styled Islamic State (ISIS) attacked Turkish targets and Russia imposed sanctions when Turkish planes rashly shot down a Russian aircraft in November that briefly entered Turkish airspace.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems, at last, to have realized that his country cannot stand alone as a regional power without friends in the West. Until recently, Turkey did little to oppose ISIS and the al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of al Qaeda), tolerating the transit and provisioning of militants on Turkish territory while attacking Washington-supported Kurdish factions in Syria and denying U.S. use of the Incirlik Air Base. Turkey’s opportunistic alignment with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has revived oil exports from the region through Turkey, to the discomfort of Baghdad and Washington. Over the years, Ankara has provided material support to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.