Turkey’s authorities will rename an Ankara street where the American Embassy is located after the military offensive in northern Syria, the city’s mayor said on Monday, revealing the state of tension between two NATO allies.
The renaming of the street in downtown of Ankara as “Olive Branch Avenue” is the latest example of the testy relations between the two allies who have bickered fiercely during the last months over a string of issues, including Syria.
“I have signed the proposal necessary to change the name of the street that the U.S. embassy is on from Nevzat Tandogan Avenue to Olive Branch,” Mustafa Tuna said on Twitter.
He said the proposal will be presented to the Ankara municipality assembly on Monday evening for approval. Nevzat Tandogan was a former governor of the Turkish capital between 1929 and 1946.
“Olive Branch” is the name given to Turkey’s operation launched on Jan. 20 against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in its western enclave of Afrin.
Although the US embassy is found on Nevzat Tandogan Avenue, the mission gives Ataturk Boulevard, named after Turkey’s post-imperial founder and which part of the building backs onto, as its official address.
Relations are strained between the U.S. and Turkey over multiple issues including Washington’s arming of the YPG and the failure to extradite the suspects accused of ordering the July 2016 coup bid.
Turkey has called on the US repeatedly to stop working with the YPG, which it views as a “terrorist” group. But Washington has expressed concern about the Olive Branch operation and urged restraint from Turkey.
Turkey has in recent months made the renaming of streets into a tool of diplomacy. The latest proposal follows the symbolic riposte to the United Arab Emirates last month when Ankara renamed the street where Abu Dhabi’s embassy is located after an ex-Ottoman governor of Medina.
The move came shortly after tensions following a retweet by the UAE foreign minister of a post claiming that Fahreddin Pasha — governor of Medina from 1916 to 1919 — stole from the people of the sacred Islamic pilgrimage city.