Sunday, 22 January 2017 00:00

Turkey is Expecting a Restart with the U.S.

By Halil Karaveli

January 23,  2017

The Kurdish question has, once again, complicated Turkish-American relations. The rhetoric of anti-Americanism remains useful to whip up and mobilize nationalist opinion. Yet, Erdoğan’s Islamists are not any aspiring anti-imperialists. What they want – and what they expect that Turkey is now going to get – is simply a better “business deal” with the United States under Donald Trump.

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Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet observes that HDP representatives are now hoping that Erdoğan is going to resume the peace process and that he will make concessions to the Kurds if they back the presidential system that he insists on introducing. But is Erdoğan going to bargain with HDP in the parliament while he is fighting the PKK ferociously on the ground? It’s less likely for the time being. At most, they might consider making minimal concessions to HDP that don’t threaten the unitary state, when they think that they are close to “finishing off the matter.” And this is because of the alliance between Erdoğan/AKP and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). The greatest ally of the AKP in the country is the TSK. One reason why Erdoğan is able to pursue his authoritarianism so brazenly is the “alliance” he has entered into with TSK. They have reached an agreement with TSK on the war against PKK, on the unitary integrity etc. Erdoğan cannot step outside these limits, until a new situation. That means it’s probably not on the agenda to seek endorsement from HDP in order to get an amended constitution accepted in parliament.

Hasan Cemal on the t24 news site writes that the military and Erdoğan have converged on three points, and that there does not seem to be any disagreement at all between them. The three points are the Kurdish problem, the fight against PKK and northern Syria…  I wonder if not a fourth point could be added to these three, and that is about democracy. Democracy and the rule of law no longer figure on Tayyip Erdoğan’s agenda. There is an Erdoğan on the stage that has turned his back on the West and who dislikes the EU…  Erdoğan is facing east. He has his gaze on Russia, Central Asia, China, and of course on the Islamic world. This eastern orientation was quite strong among the military during especially the 1990’s and during the first years of the 2000’s. The big pashas used to say “The European Union means first class democracy. Turkey is not ready for such a democracy; it would lead to our breakup. Let’s make an opening to the East, to Russia, China; that would be much better for Turkey…”  Could it be that Erdoğan and the military have met at the same point – that is in a common “antipathy toward democracy” – or perhaps more accurately in a shared “fear of democracy,” as Turkey is swinging from “military tutelage” to “civilian despotism?” Yes, I’d say that’s possible. Would not Erdoğan’s civilian despotism be strengthened when he sort of designates the military to deputize him? If this is indeed the case, it most certainly would strengthen his despotism.

By Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak (vol. 8, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst) 

Despite the importance and improvement of multi-dimensional Turkish-Chinese relations, Turkish decision makers have had difficulties reconciling their Pan-Islamic ideological rhetoric and the demands of realpolitik. While Ankara recognizes the need to form good relations with China, its self-assigned role as the protector of “oppressed Muslims” has, so far, trapped Turkey between realpolitik and the purism of ideology. Having acknowledged this clash, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has moved to neutralize the discord that has existed between Turkey’s national interests and its Pan-Islamic ideological rhetoric. Erdoğan’s new China strategy promises to pave the way for solid, stable relations between Turkey and China.

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By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)

The decision of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to visit Turkey along with Ireland and the United States during his ten-day world tour before becoming president in about a year underscores the importance Turkey holds for China’s leaders. The AKP government’s desire for new partnerships and Turkey’s eagerness to join other states in benefitting from the strength of the Chinese economy has contributed to this flourishing relationship. Their growing mutual attraction has led them to overlook their diverging policies regarding some regional issues, such as Syria and the status of ethnic Uighur Turks in China, and instead concentrate on cultivating mutual economic and strategic ties. But that situation may not endure. Beijing will have to pay close attention to the power struggle within the governing coalition of Islamic movements in Turkey, and its implications for the future evolution of Turkey’s foreign relations.

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Joint Center Publications

Op-ed Lawrence Stutzriem and Svante Cornell "Turkey and Qatar's Support for Extremist Groups", Realcleardefense, May 23, 2017

Article Halil Karaveli "Turkey's Authoritarian Legacy", Cairo Review of Global Affairs,  May 1, 2017

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Assasination in Ankara"Foreign Affairs, January 3, 2017

Essay Halil M. Karaveli "Erdogan's Journey"Foreign Affairs, October 19, 2016

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Turkey's Fractured State", The New York Times, August 1, 2016

Op-ed Svante E. Cornell "A botched coup and Turkey’s descent into madness", Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, July 19, 2016

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "Turkey's Decline", Foreign Affairs, March 2, 2016.

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "La Turquie, est-elle destinée à durer?", Centre for International Policy Studies, January 27, 2016.

Monograph Eric Edelman, Svante Cornell, Aaron Lobel, Halil Karaveli, "Turkey Transformed: The Origins and Evolution of Authoritarianism and Islamization under the AKP", Bipartisan Policy Center, October 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell and M.K. Kaya, "The Naqshbandi-Khalidi Order and Political Islam in Turkey", Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, September 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell, "Understanding Turkey's Tilt", Journal of International Security Affairs, no. 27, Winter 2014.

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.

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