By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
After Syria’s downing of a Turkish aircraft over the eastern Mediterranean, the question is not so much why Syria shot it down as why the two neighbors have become embroiled in a confrontation in the first place; more precisely why the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey decided to commit itself to bringing about regime change in Syria, by which it assumed significant risks. That choice speaks of the impact that sectarian reflexes is increasingly having on Ankara’s foreign policy. What beckons enticingly for Turkey’s ruling Sunni conservatives is a pro-Turkish “Sunni crescent”, stretching from Gaza over Syria to northern Iraq. However, Turkey courts danger by assuming the role as a leading Sunni power in the sectarian confrontation in the Middle East.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 4 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has just completed a well-timed visit to Washington. Although many issues arose during his multi-day rounds of meetings with congressional and executive branch figures, the topic that invariably drew the most attention in public, and likely in private, was what to do about Syria now that the diplomatic initiatives have been exhausted. Turkey and the United States have been aligning their policies toward Syria throughout the crisis, and Washington expects Turkey to assume a leading public role in any future initiative in its southern neighbor. Yet no specific new initiatives were announced by either party during Davutoğlu’s Washington visit. As has been indicated by Turkish and U.S. diplomats, the U.S. and Turkey prefer to consult with other governments also seeking a firmer stance toward Syria before committing to a concrete action plan.
By Veysel Ayhan (vol. 4, no. 22 of the Turkey Analyst)
The inability of the Baath regime in Damascus to bring the situation in the country under control has compelled Turkey to move against its erstwhile partner. As Turkey openly seeks to bring about regime change in Syria, it relies on diplomatic, political and economic instruments. Turkey can be expected to ask the member countries of the UN Security Council to impose further sanctions against Syria in the near future. In the event that such sanctions fail to bring about the fall of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and in case a full-blown civil war erupts in Syria, Turkey may – as a last resort – seek, conjointly with the Arab countries a United Nations resolution allowing the use of force.
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.