By Veysel Ayhan (vol. 4, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
The September 12-16 tour of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya has occasioned the question what role Turkey can be expected to play in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the “Arab Spring”. Erdoğan is for good reason perceived as a leader who speaks for the “Arab street” on the international scene. But, concurrently – although perhaps less obviously – Turkey’s Middle Eastern and North African aspirations are increasingly in tune with Western interests as well.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)
Chinese analysts have been pleasantly surprised by the stupendous growth in their cultural, economic, and political ties with Turkey after the Cold War. They describe both China and Turkey as two emerging powers that are now entering a new strategic partnership that could reshape Eurasia. Chinese scholars consider Turkey an increasingly important country for China due to its growing economy, increasingly independent and influential diplomacy, and pivotal location between Europe, Eurasia, and the Middle East.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)
On September 2, 2011, Turkey downgraded its diplomatic ties with Israel from ambassadorial to second secretary level and suspended all bilateral military agreements between the two countries. On September 8, 2011, in an interview on Al Jazeera, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan vowed that Turkey would provide naval escorts for any future attempts by Turkish aid vessels to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. He also warned that Turkey would “prevent Israel from unilaterally exploiting the natural resources of the eastern Mediterranean.”
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
The turmoil in Syria threatens to deprive Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of one of its most significant foreign policy achievements. Since coming to power in 2002, the AKP has achieved a remarkable improvement in relations with Syria as part of its general goal of “zero problems with neighbors” that underpins its foreign policy. Now the upheaval in Syria is straining ties not only between Ankara and Damascus but also between Turkey and Iran. In addition, Turkey could suffer massive economic loses, increased threats to its border and internal security, and a more complicated regional Kurdish problem.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
Foreign and defense policies did not figure prominently in the recent general election in Turkey. Most Turks seem satisfied with the more assertive role that their government has assumed in recent years, while Turkey’s weak opposition parties have yet to offer a coherent foreign policy alternative to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Still, Turkish leaders will not be able to escape foreign and defense issues given Turkey’s dependence on its foreign economic ties and its location as a “front-line” state bordering the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans. The situation in Syria is the most sensitive one for Turkey, and it could notably disrupt Turkey’s otherwise harmonious relations with Iran. Another crucial question is how much pull NATO will exercise over Ankara’s foreign and defense policies.
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.