By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 26, 2011, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, declared that, if Iran came under attack from the U.S. or Israel, its first response would be to target elements of NATO’s missile shield in Turkey. The threat was the latest – and most explicit – Iranian expression of unease at Turkey’s willingness to deploy the missile shield since the decision was first announced on September 2, 2011. It put additional pressure on a bilateral political relationship already strained by the popular uprisings in the Arab world. The tensions will have reassured those in the West who had been alarmed by the apparent rapprochement between the two countries in recent years, particularly Turkey’s vigorous defense of Iran’s nuclear program in 2010. But, in reality, the relationship has always been more nuanced and multilayered than a simple dichotomy of friend or foe.
By Stephen Blank (vol. 4, no. 22 of the Turkey Analyst)
Wherever one looks, Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy is fading. Although Turco-Russian relations have not received the publicity of Turkey’s quarrels with Israel, those relations represent the latest example of this policy’s difficulties. The clash of Turkish-Russian interests are part of a larger theme. They underline that the core idea of Turkish foreign policy during the last years, the notion that Turkey can truly manage to have no problems with all of its neighbors and serenely navigate along the complex shoals of Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucasus and gain leverage throughout these zones, has proven to be unustainable.
By Veysel Ayhan (vol. 4, no. 22 of the Turkey Analyst)
The inability of the Baath regime in Damascus to bring the situation in the country under control has compelled Turkey to move against its erstwhile partner. As Turkey openly seeks to bring about regime change in Syria, it relies on diplomatic, political and economic instruments. Turkey can be expected to ask the member countries of the UN Security Council to impose further sanctions against Syria in the near future. In the event that such sanctions fail to bring about the fall of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and in case a full-blown civil war erupts in Syria, Turkey may – as a last resort – seek, conjointly with the Arab countries a United Nations resolution allowing the use of force.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish government representatives insist that they want to develop good ties in all directions, and consider these relations non-exclusive. Turkish officials describe their country as a bridge among these neighboring blocs and civilizations. They emphasize their newfound commitment to convey Western liberal democratic values to the newly emerging democracies that are slowly displacing the traditionally authoritarian countries of the Middle East. Turks would ideally like their country to become a diplomatic and energy bridge that connects Europe to the Middle East, Iran to the West, and the Black Sea to the Mediterranean in ways that would enhance Ankara’s leverage by making Turkey a pivotal state and an indispensable partner to its neighbors.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Arab spring has catapulted democracy and human rights to the top of Turkey’s stated foreign policy priorities. Turkey’s assumption of what almost amounts to a “neoconservative” foreign policy mission in the Middle East is far from risk-free. Ankara was recently served a first, dire public warning from Iran. The greatest danger for Turkey is that its rulers indulge in the conviction that they are on the right side of history, in tune with the forces of change. The new dictum of Turkish foreign policy might be labeled “freedom at home, freedom abroad”, but the AKP government’s celebration of “freedom” has a hollow ring to it. It may be that Erdoğan is in tune with the aspirations of the Arab street, but he is not paying close enough attention to the simmering anger on Turkey’s Kurdish streets.
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.