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At a time when Turkey is witnessing increasing tensions with the central government in Iraq, the Turkish ambassador to the US, Namık Tan, said, “The rhetoric of the US sometimes resembles that of Iran,” as he reiterated Turkey's commitment to the territorial integrity of Iraq.

Defending the right of Turkish firms to do business in northern Iraq as numerous American ones do in the region, Tan says Turkey cannot turn its back to resources available next door.

Speaking to Today's Zaman in İzmir, where he attended the Fifth Annual Ambassadors Conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tan said US-Turkish bilateral relations are enjoying the best time in their history despite the differences in the priorities of the two countries. Directing attention to a long list of overlapping issues between Turkey and the US, Tan said the partnership between the two actors is defined as a model one by the Obama administration, dismissing the idea that Turkey presents itself as a model. In this partnership of the US as a global actor and Turkey as an emerging regional leader, Tan says, however, priorities change. In foreign policy, Syria and Iraq occupy the top of the list in Turkey, while Iran is more of a concern in the US, according to Tan, who has first-hand familiarity with the last two decades of Turkish-US relations.

Tan reiterated Turkey's position against any military action in the region including in Syria and Iran as he urges more diplomatic efforts in the Iranian nuclear issue. “Turkey could play a facilitating role” in the Iranian issue, adds Tan, as he believes any military action would be devastating for the region. In terms of the frozen relations with Israel, Tan says Turkey will not step back from the three conditions it listed to normalize relations, while saying that those conditions are the end results of the then-discreet and now disclosed negotiations with Israel.

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As far as the approaching 100th year of the Armenian events, Tan says Turkey is not avoiding the issue as he repeats Turkey's suggestion to form an independent committee of historians to do research on the issue in an effort to move the debate from a political to a historical one.

Did the US start leading from behind in the region?

America's image has already been damaged in the region due to the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, although it came with a vision of peace and engagement. Now, it no longer has its previous eagerness to involve itself in the issues of the region.

There is a tendency in the US to delegate or leave the issue to the regional leaders in a given region. It does not mean that the US asks the regional leaders to solve the problems -- of course it will surely be engaged -- but the US will not be in the forefront or lead the situation as it used to.

Speaking of engagement and leading from behind, Turkey is criticized for being a part of this US policy in Syria. Why is the US is not displaying the expected engagement in Syria?

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Nobody wants a military intervention in Syria, in the first place. Why would we want any? We want to enjoy our prosperity that we have brought to a certain level. This is not the case. No country can or should design the policies of another country.

Let's look at what both the US and Turkey want in Syria: the end of violence as soon as possible, peaceful transition to democracy and the meeting of the demands of the people.

Does the US not know that the opposition is not strong enough to succeed in such a transformation without support?

If you look at it only from the military perspective, what you say is correct, but it is has other dimensions such as humanitarian, for example. There is a necessim/">bab.cons such we wan in SIas "stuleave the issue 998as humanitarian, for example. b.cons such we wan in SIas "stuleave the issue 99lablsi