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.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Turkish government appears to hope to deter the continued Syrian – and Iranian – deployment of the Kurdish card against Turkey. But it is questionable whether Turkey will succeed in deterring Damascus and Tehran since it is all too obvious that Ankara does not really want to go to war. Ankara would be well advised to change course, exploring the possibility of a truce with Damascus, with the two neighbors agreeing on a reciprocal cessation of support to their respective insurgencies.
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.