The turbulent relationship between the US and Turkey – allies for more than half a century – is about to reach a decisive moment when the United Nations Security Council votes on whether to tighten sanctions on Iran.
Tensions between Ankara and Washington have increased after last week’s Israeli raid on a Turkish aid ship, which claimed nine lives, but US officials say that Iran is the bigger issue.
The UN vote on a new sanctions resolution, which could happen this week, has become perhaps the biggest US foreign policy priority, following President Barack Obama’s promise that Iran will face “consequences” over its nuclear ambitions.
Turkey, a temporary member of the Security Council, is leading the case against sanctions. US officials say the most they can hope for is that Ankara might finally abstain. Even that would greatly complicate Washington’s efforts to highlight international unity against Iran.
“The moment when the Turkish ambassador at the UN fails to raise his hand in support of the Iran sanctions vote may be a breaking point,” said Bulent Aliriza of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.