By Cengiz Çandar
February 14, 2019
The perception of a Kurdish threat from Syria, abetted by the United States, has provided the Turkish regime with its raison d’être. It is the glue that holds the power coalition of a variety of ultranationalists together. As long as the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan relies on the Kurdish “other” for its internal cohesion – and ultimately for its survival – that imperative will continue to determine Turkish foreign policy. But Turkey’s strategic reorientation is also sustained by a long history of deep-seated suspicion of American motives. Indeed, Turkish-American relations were never harmonious and their history has taught the Turkish state elite not to trust the United States, and never before had so much been at stake as today.
By Svante Cornell
June 29, 2017
The Gulf crisis over Qatar is once again catapulting Turkey into the politics of the Middle East, for which it is woefully unprepared. After a brief attempt at neutrality, Ankara threw in its lot with Doha, condemning the sanctions imposed by a Saudi-led coalition and accelerated its deployment of troops to a new base in Qatar. This decision risks upsetting President Erdoğan's tenuous rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, and reflects the continued ideological prism guiding Turkish foreign policy. But it also reflects a concern with regime security. At least in part, Erdoğan's embrace of Qatar reflects a belief that the same forces that supported the overthrow of Egypt's Muhammad Morsi welcomed the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey and now seek regime change in Doha. If so, Turkey's stance is unlikely to change, indicating a standoff may in the making.
By Toni Alaranta
December 1, 2016
The debate on political Islam under the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) needs to fully acknowledge the crucial importance of nationalism as the enduring element of any relevant form of mass politics in Turkey. In the Turkish case, it makes no sense to speak about political Islam distinct from nationalism as an overriding ideological component of modern politics. Just as much as the AKP’s political Islam utilizes religious texts, symbols and traditions, it also utilizes the familiar discourse of nationalism. This process was underway before the failed coup, but it has become more pronounced in its wake.
By Nathan Shachar
July 8, 2016
Whatever dividends the fresh Turkish-Israeli rapprochement will bring, it reveals something fundamental about the new Middle East: the number of unknown variables in this ever less predictable environment is steadily growing, and even the most arrogant and unrepentant leaders will have to eat crow from time to time in order to salvage their national interests. Leaders who stand by their words and their principles will be severely handicapped.
Ali Bulaç in Yarına Bakış writes that Turkey had the chance to provide a model of successful Islamist governance, and asks why it failed. Turkey could have been different, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. If every group had shown the maturity of sharing the work of governing with each other, while at the same time conserving their autonomy, then the process that started in 2002 would have ended with making Turkey a role model for the Middle East. We have to concede that the Muslims were unable to share power, and that they failed to construct a just power. They have forfeited nearly all of the gains that were made since 1960; indeed, the gains relating to freedoms and rights that had been obtained since parliamentary democracy was established in 1950 have been surrendered. This has more than one reason. Two principal reasons stand out: The first is the incompatibility between the two strands of Islam in Turkey that has never been surmounted, between the National Outlook movement and the Nurcu strand or strands; the other reason is that the religious fraternities, as soon as they glimpsed the light of power in the 21st century, reverted to the Ottoman tradition of seeing themselves as the prolongation of the state in society and engaged in a race to become the state’s most privileged group. Meanwhile, Muslim intellectuals quickly embraced the opportunity of becoming the official servants of the state. Anyone who chooses Turkey as model will repeat this mistake.
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.