Relations between the US and its NATO ally Turkey are going downhill fast—and many travelers have been caught in the diplomatic crossfire. Both countries abruptly suspended the issuing of most visitor visas for each other Sunday in a tit-for-tat move apparently sparked by the arrest of an employee of the US Consulate in Istanbul, the Washington Post reports. The consulate staffer was charged with espionage and accused of having links to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in Pennsylvania. The Turkish government blames Gulen for the 2016 coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In a statement Sunday, the US embassy in Ankara said nonimmigrant visa services for US citizens had been suspended because the commitment of Turkish authorities to the security of the US diplomatic mission had been suspended. Turkey fired back hours later with an almost identical statement about visa services for Americans, per the BBC. Reuters reports that US-Turkish relations, already strained by attempts to extradite Gulen, started going downhill faster after violence broke out at a protest during Erdogan's visit to the US in May. Turkey was also angered by the Trump administration's decision to side with a Kurdish group in the fight against ISIS. (Read more Turkey stories.)