By Halil M. Karaveli and Svante E. Cornell (vol. 4, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s leaders have embraced the popular revolts in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül publicly urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to respect the will of the people and resign. Yet where authoritarian regimes are Islamic as in Iran and Sudan, Ankara has propped them up and refrained from any criticism; only where Islamists are in opposition has the Turkish government come out in support of change to the status quo and “democracy”. In fact, the AKP foreign policy is in ever clearer terms motivated primarily by Islamic solidarity and ideology. Contrary to expectations that Turkey will serve as a moderate example to emulate for the forces that clamor for change in the Middle East, the convulsions in the Arab world risk giving further impetus to Islamic radicalization in Turkey itself.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 2 of the Turkey Analyst)
Though not pursuing an overt or perhaps even deliberate policy of balancing Iran, Turkey has managed to overcome years of tense ties with Iraq and emerge as a major force in that country’s political, economic, and cultural life. Whereas the Shiite members of the new Iraqi government seek to limit the influence of the Persian Gulf monarchies, and non-Shiite leaders want to constrain Iranian influence in their country, neither they nor any other influential Iraqi group oppose Turkey’s growing sway in their country. As it quietly helps to keep Iraq out of Tehran’s orbit and by linking Baghdad to the West, Ankara is set to increase its own regional influence and, potentially, enhance its value as a strategic partner of Western and Persian Gulf governments.
By Svante E. Cornell (vol. 3, no. 11 of the Turkey Analyst)
Ostentatiously seeking zero-problems with neighbors, Turkey has ended up taking on an erstwhile strategic partner in the region. Its growing economic clout does indeed legitimate Turkey’s aspiration to have a decisive say in Middle Eastern matters. Ultimately, Turkey’s new, assertive – indeed aggressive – foreign policy is predicated on the notion that the West is on the decline. Yet as they rather carelessly wield their newfound power, the Turks seem curiously oblivious to the risks of overreaching.
By Halil M. Karaveli and M.K. Kaya (vol. 3, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
Opinion polls in Turkey show that there is a very real possibility that the next general election may return one or two of the nationalist opposition parties, CHP and MHP to power. The nationalist opposition, together with strong resistance within the ruling AKP itself and the government’s mishandling of those initiatives, has in fact already helped force the AKP to abandon its openings to Armenia and to the Kurdish minority. A Turkey ruled by the secularist-nationalists would be more circumspect in its dealings with Muslim countries. Yet in a fundamental sense, the secularist-nationalists are, just like the current government, inclined to defy the West, strategically as well as ideologically.
By Rafis Abazov (vol. 2, no. 22 of the Turkey Analyst)
Recent Turkish foreign policy initiatives have asserted the country’s growing influence in its neighborhood. One of the important, yet overlooked, factors that underpin Turkey’s growing clout in international affairs is the demographic dynamics. Today’s Turkey is a country of about 76 million people, up from 56.5 million in 1990, making it the second largest European NATO country after Germany. However, the recent report by the UNFPA estimates that by 2050 the population of Turkey will reach 100 million people, making it the largest country in Europe outside Russia. This change has important implications that will affect the new geopolitical and geo-economic balance in Europe. However, although demographics offer Turkey an advantage, it also calls for well-balanced economic 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.