By Joshua W. Walker (vol. 4, no. 24 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s emergence in the 21st century as a Middle Eastern power has been in the making for the last decade, but only fully crystallized in the wake of the “Arab Awakenings” this year. Unlike Iran and Saudi Arabia that actively supported counter-protest movements to deflect attention away from their own domestic shortcomings, Turkey’s vibrant civil society nudged the government onto the side of the newly emerging Arab democratic movements. Turkey has earned a reputation under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as being a pragmatic and active actor in the Middle East. Despite the successes of AKP’s foreign policy in the last decade in opening new markets and expanding into its neighborhood through a policy of “zero problems with neighbors,” the Arab spring of 2011 has forced Ankara to confront the new realities of the Middle East. Ankara is now in need of a new foreign policy, post-Arab awakenings.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 24 of the Turkey Analyst)
The year 2011 saw a “regression toward the mean” in Turkey’s relation with the United States. 2010 had the deadly Israeli flotilla raid, the misfired Iranian nuclear negotiations, and the WikiLeaks’ revelations about the negative views held by some American diplomats regarding Turkey’s leaders who were described as dangerous extremists, megalomaniacal, and corrupt. The Turkey-U.S relationship has rebounded nicely in 2011, with Ankara and Washington collaborating on a range of issues. But danger signs abound beneath the surface, suggesting that 2012 and beyond might not be as rosy.
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.
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.