By M. Kemal Kaya and Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Arab upheavals that are rocking the Middle East are indirectly contributing to arresting Turkey’s democratic evolution. Turkey’s embroilment in the Sunni-Shiite confrontation in the Middle East has invited Iran and Syria to exploit and exacerbate its Kurdish problem. That in turn strengthens the right-wing nationalist drift of Turkey, making the prospect of democratic reform even more elusive than it already was. Instead of the Middle East becoming more Turkish, Turkey may ultimately become more Middle Eastern.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish and U.S. officials have finally begun to contemplate the Syrian endgame. Both governments would like to avert further civil strife and achieve a rapid transition to a stable and prosperous Syria under a new government. They also want to prevent extremist groups from exploiting the chaotic situation to break Syria apart or transform the country into a terrorist safe haven. Yet, neither Turkey nor the United States is prepared to send large numbers of ground forces to Syria to attain these goals, increasing the likelihood of post-Assad civil strife in Syria with adverse consequences for neighboring countries.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey would make a significant contribution to the resolution of the Syrian crisis if it could bring itself to rise above the sectarian considerations that have dictated its regime change policy in Syria. So far, however, Turkey’s intervention in the Syrian civil war has demonstrated how Turkey’s lack of “democratic depth” disables a constructive foreign policy in the service of stability and democratic reform in a region that was supposed to be Turkey’s “strategic depth”.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
The decision of the June 6-7 annual meeting of the heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Beijing to designate Turkey a formal dialogue partner of the organization is yet another sign of recognition of Turkey’s growing influence in Central and South Asia. Turkey’s new status may also reinforce Ankara’s influence in the region, especially now that other NATO members are reducing their presence in Afghanistan. But Turkey still confronts major obstacles to pursuing its ambitious diplomatic agenda in Central and South Asia. China was likely supportive of deepening the SCO’s ties with Turkey, but Turkey’s relations with Russia might worsen, which in that case will constrain Turkish influence in Central Asia.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
After Syria’s downing of a Turkish aircraft over the eastern Mediterranean, the question is not so much why Syria shot it down as why the two neighbors have become embroiled in a confrontation in the first place; more precisely why the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey decided to commit itself to bringing about regime change in Syria, by which it assumed significant risks. That choice speaks of the impact that sectarian reflexes is increasingly having on Ankara’s foreign policy. What beckons enticingly for Turkey’s ruling Sunni conservatives is a pro-Turkish “Sunni crescent”, stretching from Gaza over Syria to northern Iraq. However, Turkey courts danger by assuming the role as a leading Sunni power in the sectarian confrontation in the Middle East.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.