Citing security concerns in the region, United States military and defense officials are ordering American military families and dependents to leave certain regions Turkey.
The orders are coming from the Pentagon and State Department which, according to NBC News are based on “the changing security environment” and the “potential increase in threats and risks.”
“The decision to move our families and civilians was made in consultation with the Government of Turkey, our State Department, and our Secretary of Defense,” said Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command. “We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong Ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism.”
The move comes while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heads to Washington DC for participation in a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on March 31 and to inaugurate a grand Ottoman style mosque in Maryland.
Chilling relations between Washington and Ankara are obvious from the uncertainty of a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and the mixed messages that have come from opposite sides of the Atlantic.
The White House said Monday there were no plans for bilateral talks between Obama and Erdogan, while Erdogan said, leaving Istanbul Airport that he would meet Obama on the sidelines of the nuclear summit, indicating with a bit of uncertainty that it was still “open” what form the encounter would take.
An official Turkish presidential statement did not even mention Obama.
Numerous differences in strategy, opinion, policy and geopolitical agendas have strained the relationship, namely the war in Syria and a growing U.S. concern over Turkey’s push to more authoritarianism by Erdogan.
Tweets and other public expressions of support by the US Embassy in Ankara supporting prosecuted academics and journalists have made Ambassador John Bass a hate figure for hardliners in Turkey.
“We don’t always agree on everything — media freedom is one of them,” said US State Department spokesman John Kirby during a recent press conference, angering media and government officials in Turkey and accusing the United States of meddling in that country’s domestic policies.