Washington-Ankara relations rattled by child soldiers accusation – analysis

Washington’s placement of Turkey on a list of countries accused of recruiting children as soldiers may signal a possible worsening of ties between the NATO allies, analysts told the Media Line on Sunday.

The move is part of the United States’ latest rebukeagainst Turkey amid years of deteriorating ties, Media Line said, over a string of issues including Turkey’s procurement of the Russian S-400 missile systems and disagreement between the NATO allies on policies towards Syria, Libya and energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has slammed the U.S. State Department’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons report that was released on Thursday, whichcriticized Ankara for providing “operational, equipment, and financial support” to an armed militia in Syria that recruits child soldiers.

Ankara has completely rejected the claim.

The move marks the first time a NATO member is cited in the Child Soldier Prevention Act (CSPA) list, according to senior U.S. officials.

The move will “definitely have ramifications on US-Turkish relations,”  Muzaffer Şenel, from Ankara Medipol University’s Political Science and International Relations Department, told the Media Line, with Turkey likely to respond in the medium-to-long term by shifting more toward Moscow and Beijing.

According to Ryan Bohl, a Middle East and North Africa analyst with Stratfor, Washington is sending a signal that it is monitoring Turkey’s human rights record and foreign policy. 

Moreover, the move signals the possibility of the United States taking more serious action in the future, according to the analyst.