Tags: Nicholas Burns | Russia | Assassination | Strain | Turkey-US | Relations

Former Amb. Nicholas Burns: Assassination May Strain US-Turkey Relations

Image: Former Amb. Nicholas Burns: Assassination May Strain US-Turkey Relations

Amb. Nicholas Burns. (AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 20 Dec 2016 09:35 AM

The assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov will make the United States' relationship with Turkey more difficult, Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said Tuesday morning.

"The Turks are accustomed over decades to leaning on the United States and looking to us for leadership, and we are normally, in most of the Middle East countries, the outside power, but no longer," Burns told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

But after eight years of the Obama administration, the United States has been removed from that leadership role, said Burns, who served under former President George W. Bush, leaving Russia as the "dynamic power."

"The Turks are looking to the Russians, not for leadership, but for cooperation, and the Turks need to protect their border with Syria," Burns continued. "They want to protect the Turk population and ethnic group in northern Syria and they want to prevent the Syrian Kurds from dominating that region."

Russian President Vladimir Putin allows Turkey to protect its border, Burns said, explaining there is an "understanding" between the Russian leader and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Meanwhile, Turkey is in a critical location between the Middle East and Europe, said Burns, and has the largest standing army outside of the United States and the NATO alliance.

"I think that [President-elect] Donald Trump needs to reach out to President Erdogan," said Burns, warning that the Turkish leader is "difficult and he's been using the United States as a punching bag," and blames almost everything that goes wrong, including the Russian ambassador's murder, on the United States.

"I think personal relationships are important to him, and an early call and meeting with Donald Trump would be well advised," said Burns. "We do have common interests with Turkey.

"The Turks very much want a vocation, and that might be an issue that Donald Trump could help the Turks with in relations, for instance, with Angela Merkel and some of the other European leaders."

But the United States' relationship was already fragile with Turkey, because as far back as 2012, the country wanted the United States to be more active with Syria, while backing some of the leading Sunni groups.

The ambassador's assassination was a "shocking development," said Burns, but Turkey is deeply divided and continues to be divided while Erdogan takes the country " in a more Islamic direction, but he opposes ISIS, which may prove to be a good connection point between him and Trump.

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The assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov will make the United States' relationship with Turkey more difficult, Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said Tuesday morning.
Nicholas Burns, Russia, Assassination, Strain, Turkey-US, Relations
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2016-35-20
Tuesday, 20 Dec 2016 09:35 AM
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