By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 20 of the Turkey Analyst)
Despite vigorous efforts by Russian and Turkish policy makers, differences over Syria threaten to disrupt what has been a harmonious relationship. Leaders in Ankara are calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s immediate departure, while Moscow continues to support his regime if not al-Assad personally. Turkey’s leading role in organizing the anti-Assad resistance, Syria’s cross-border shelling of Turkish territory and Ankara’s recent decision to force a Syrian plane from Russia to land in Turkey threaten to worsen ties. However, Russia is nonetheless unlikely to take any drastic, punitive measures against Turkey because of the two countries’ still strong overlapping interests in other areas.
By Veysel Ayhan (vol. 5, no. 20 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan on October 17, proposed that the crisis in Syria be addressed through diplomatic methods and called for the establishment of an international mechanism for dialogue involving countries in the region as well as other interested powers. If pursued, this return to diplomacy would amount to a dramatic shift on the part of Turkey which has until now privileged military means seeking to bring about regime change in Syria by aiding the rebels. However, the crucial question is whether Turkey’s groundbreaking diplomatic initiative of Turkey does indeed represent a strategic withdrawal from its previous stance or rather a temporary, tactical move.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish-Azerbaijani relations have been on the rebound in recent months since the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation effort, launched in 2008, has effectively collapsed over differences regarding the Armenian-occupied territories of Azerbaijan and the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The summit earlier this month between the two governments will accelerate this process, especially by helping them develop their energy partnership.
By M. Kemal Kaya and Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Arab upheavals that are rocking the Middle East are indirectly contributing to arresting Turkey’s democratic evolution. Turkey’s embroilment in the Sunni-Shiite confrontation in the Middle East has invited Iran and Syria to exploit and exacerbate its Kurdish problem. That in turn strengthens the right-wing nationalist drift of Turkey, making the prospect of democratic reform even more elusive than it already was. Instead of the Middle East becoming more Turkish, Turkey may ultimately become more Middle Eastern.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish and U.S. officials have finally begun to contemplate the Syrian endgame. Both governments would like to avert further civil strife and achieve a rapid transition to a stable and prosperous Syria under a new government. They also want to prevent extremist groups from exploiting the chaotic situation to break Syria apart or transform the country into a terrorist safe haven. Yet, neither Turkey nor the United States is prepared to send large numbers of ground forces to Syria to attain these goals, increasing the likelihood of post-Assad civil strife in Syria with adverse consequences for neighboring countries.
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.