By Joshua Walker (vol. 4, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
In stark contrast to its support for the protest movements in Egypt and Tunisia, Turkey has abstained from taking a principled, democratic stand in the case of Libya. Turkey has opposed the imposition of sanctions and military measures against the Libyan regime. The failure of the Turkish government to live up to the democratic ideals that purportedly guide its policy toward the Middle East reveals the limits of a foreign policy which seeks to balance ideals and “realism”. Ultimately, the effect of Turkey on regional dynamics will only be as strong as its ideals and principles.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 4 of the Turkey Analyst)
Several developments are making Turkey’s role in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) increasingly prominent. The Turkish government is strongly backing a Turkish national for the position of OSCE Secretary-General, the organization’s most important currently vacant position. In addition, Turkey’s compliance with the OSCE’s so-called human dimension has come under attack, especially due to the government’s restrictions on media freedoms. Furthermore, Turkey is playing a prominent role in several OSCE security issues, including efforts to revive the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty as well as resolve the protracted conflicts in the former Soviet republics, including in several countries near Turkey.
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.
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.