By John Daly (vol. 7, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
As armed conflict ravages Syria and Iraq, Turkey risks adding to the social and political tensions to its south by cutting the water flow of the Euphrates, which originates in southeastern Turkey and is Western Asia’s longest river, to downstream states. Compounding Iraqi misery, the Islamic State (IS) has been using water as a weapon of war. As unrest continues to roil the Fertile Crescent, whether water is used as a tool of inconsiderate state policy or a weapon of war, the suffering of civilians and farmers has dire political consequences. What is certain is that Turkey’s ambitious GAP program is adding to the misery of the downstream populations.
By Jesper Åkesson (vol. 7, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
The regions of Turkey that border Syria need external support, both from the Turkish government and from the international community, as these parts of the country have come to bear a disproportionally large burden of the refugees fleeing Syria. Public services need to be expanded and ways need to be found to stimulate the local economy. Ultimately, the Syrian civil war will continue to negatively affect Turkey until its resolution – but measures can and should be taken to alleviate the pressure on those hardest hit by this crisis, lest tensions grow further among locals and refugees in Turkey.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s membership in NATO has many unique dimensions, including in the number of missile-related crises the country has experienced. Washington pledged to withdraw its nuclear missiles from Turkey during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis in return for securing a Soviet nuclear pull-out from Cuba. In 1990 and 2003, Turkey had to overcome West European qualms about deploying NATO air defense systems in Turkey to counter Saddam Hussein’s threats. After considerable wavering, Turkey averted a major NATO crisis in 2010 when it agreed to host advanced U.S. ballistic missile defense radar. Now Turkey has secured a NATO commitment to relocate some of the alliance’s most advanced air and missile interceptors despite considerable foreign and some domestic opposition.
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.
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.