Turkısh Foreıgn Polıcy 1 Dersi 6. Ünite Özet

09.08.2022
14
A+
A-

Turkish Foreign Policy Between 2007 And 2017: Strategic Depth

Açıköğretim ders notları öğrenciler tarafından ders çalışma esnasında hazırlanmakta olup diğer ders çalışacak öğrenciler için paylaşılmaktadır. Sizlerde hazırladığınız ders notlarını paylaşmak istiyorsanız bizlere iletebilirsiniz.

Açıköğretim derslerinden Turkısh Foreıgn Polıcy 1 Dersi 6. Ünite Özet için hazırlanan  ders çalışma dokümanına (ders özeti / sorularla öğrenelim) aşağıdan erişebilirsiniz. AÖF Ders Notları ile sınavlara çok daha etkili bir şekilde çalışabilirsiniz. Sınavlarınızda başarılar dileriz.

Turkish Foreign Policy Between 2007 And 2017: Strategic Depth

The Strategic Depth Doctrine

Since 2002 there have been significant changes in Turkey’s foreign policy formation through a new set of foreign policy principles. Under the AKP leadership, Turkish foreign policy has become more proactive in regional issues. Ahmet Davutoğlu’s appointment as the Foreign Minister in May 2009 confirmed Turkey’s new proactive and assertive stance in international relations. Davutoğlu began his political career as the chief advisor of the Prime Minister, a position he held from 2002 to 2009. During these years, he was even described as the “secret foreign minister”. When he became Foreign Minister, he was able to implement his new foreign policy vision presented in his book titled Strategic Depth. Davutoğlu is widely accepted as one of the strongest figures in the Turkish foreign policy literature and as the main architect of important policies, which have had a global influence. He was ranked as one of the 100 global thinkers in 2010 by Foreign Policy magazine “for being the brains behind Turkey’s global reawakening”. Davutoğlu’s vision of strategic depth aims to “place Turkey right at the center of many geopolitical areas of influence” by exploiting the country’s historical and geopolitical importance.

In his book, Strategic Depth, Davutoğlu underlines that Turkey needed a new strategic approach at the end of the Cold War to establish good relations by adapting the changing variables of the international conjectures. Based on his statements, new policies were expected to have new diplomatic and practical policies compatible with the necessities of the dynamic international system. Davutoğlu focused on Turkey’s embedded potential in world politics. In this new vision, Turkey, as both a secular and a Muslim nation state, would be able to play a greater role in regions such as Eurasia and the Middle East. Davutoğlu claims that Turkey’s geostrategic position connects it to all major regions in all directions: the Balkans, the MENA, the Caucasus, Europe, and Central Asia. In this way “strategic depth is all about overcoming the old animosities and deepening and widening a strategic horizon through new geopolitical imagination”. Hence, it is not an understatement to say that Davutoğlu’s vision guided Turkish foreign policy for more than a decade.

Davutoğlu formulated a set of foreign policy principles to exploit Turkey’s geopolitical and historical strategic depth. He underlined that its historical and geographical richness would turn Turkey into a global actor in this century. He had established the AKP’s new foreign policy principles even before he became the Foreign Minister, and his policies started to be implemented by the foreign policy makers since the early years of the AKP rule. The following part describes three main methodological principles of the new Turkish foreign policy under the AKP leadership; vision-orientedness, systemic framework, and soft power. Along with these methodological principles, the following part explains five operational principles set forth by Davutoğlu:

  • Balance between freedom and security,
  • Zero problem with neighbors,
  • Diplomatic discourse,
  • Multidimensional and multi-track policies,
  • Rhythmic diplomacy.

During the fight against terrorism, people continued their normal life without any government restrictions on civil liberties. Davutoğlu believed that the AKP administration successfully settled the balance between democracy and security-related issues. For example, there was not any emergency case or any postponement of elections, nor was there any threat to national security. In order to strengthen national security, Turkish policy makers believed in the necessity for the normalization of Turkish foreign policy with its neighbors. Turkey’s new perception of its neighbors created new areas of cooperation. In this way, Turkey provided more freedom to its citizens without any immediate concerns about its national security.

This principle aimed to improve Turkey’s relations with all neighbors. According to Davutoğlu, the “zero problem with neighbors” policy has a deeper meaning than simply resolving problems or improving Turkey’s relations with all neighbors. He claims that this policy aims to create a historical transformation in Turkey’s unstable and problematic neighborhood through establishing a milieu of friendship and cooperation that would serve the interests of all countries in the region. As such, Turkey could contribute to international stability and security in the regional context. Turkey sought for maximum cooperation with its neighboring countries through economic interdependence. To this end, Turkey established high strategic council meetings with countries with which it previously had problems such as Russia, Greece, Syria, and Iraq. Through the policy of zero problem, Turkey wanted to increase its regional collaboration by abolishing visa requirements for its neighboring countries such as Syria and Russia.

Bilateral Relations of Turkey Under the Strategic Depth Doctrine and the Paradigm Shift Debate

The AKP policy makers focused on Turkey’s relations with the European Union (EU) during between 2002 and 2007. The EU membership became the center of discussion in Turkish foreign policy during these years. With the stalemate on the EU process, Turkish policy makers aimed to diversify Turkey’s external relations especially in its neighborhood. Turkey’s new foreign policy principles (especially the zero problem with neighbors policy) as well as diplomatic discourse and multidimensional policies led to a rapprochement with countries such as Syria and Iran. Following the financial crisis of 2008-09, this diversification process speeded up, and the Middle East region became an alternative to the European market for Turkey. Turkey’s export to the Middle East was $3.4 billion in 2002, and this number increased to $42.4 billion by 2012.

The AKP’s proactive foreign policy agenda received some criticism. For example, the neo- Ottomanism discourse has been a source of criticism. According to the critics of the active foreign policy agenda, the AKP policy makers aimed at re-connecting Turkey with former Ottoman territories, especially through the zero problem with neighbors policy. Neo-Ottomanism is the idea of Turkey’s projecting power over its traditional Ottoman sphere of influence. However, AKP policy makers did not identify the new foreign policy with neo-Ottomanism because this concept might carry imperialist implications.

Davutoğlu emphasized that Turkey’s new policies were not based on the Ottoman legacy but on the zero problem with neighbors principle. He pointed out that Turkey’s engagement with its neighbors did not mean a revival of historical and political relations, but was the result of inescapable factors such as Turkey’s geography and history (Baran, 2013: 117). He believed that the new Turkish foreign policy principles were not to be linked to the legacy of the Ottoman Empire because Turkey had no choice but follow certain policies, as it was impossible to change neither Turkey’s history nor its geographical position.

Some circles considered Davutoğlu’s new foreign policy principles and Turkey’s re-engagement with the Middle East region, especially the rapprochement with Syria and Iran, as a paradigm shift (or an axis shift) in Turkish foreign policy making. Some scholars argued that the AKP’s foreign policy activism especially in the Middle East region was shifting Turkey away from the Western alliance and that Turkey was getting closer to the East.

The paradigm shift discussion alludes to the overall change of Turkish foreign policy direction under the AKP governments. A series of events triggered the paradigm shift argument in Turkish foreign policy making. One such event was Turkey’s position during the Iraq war in 2003. The Turkish Grand National Assembly rejected a bill on March 1, 2003, which proposed allowing the American troops to use the Turkish territory for conducting a military operation in the northern part of Iraq. However, Turkey did not look favorably at this plan, because Turkish policy makers were concerned about the national security and believed that further instability in Iraq could provoke some problems in Turkey.

Moreover, Turkey’s commitment to promote its relations with Syria and Iran were interpreted as redirecting Turkish foreign policy toward Muslim states. Turkey’s closer relations with these countries raised concerns among Turkey’s Western partners especially when Turkey voted against a UN Security Council resolution that authorized economic sanctions on Iran. As a response to the paradigm shift debate, Davutoğlu strongly emphasized that “Turkey’s relations with the Western partners is the main direction of Turkish foreign policy”. According to Turkish policy makers, the EU and NATO still act as the basis for Turkish foreign policy making, and Turkey’s new regional and global vision is not a departure from its previous policies and commitments to its allies. They believe that changes in Turkish foreign policy is simply an adaptation to the changing international system in the post-Cold War world and the post 9/11 era.

Implications of the Arab Spring for Turkish Foreign Policy

The Arab Spring started in Tunisia in December 2010 because of growing political and economic dissatisfaction of people with the country’s leadership. The unrest spread to other countries in the region including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. The popular uprisings known as the “Arab Spring” in the MENA region had a significant impact on Turkish foreign policy. Until this political earthquake, proactive foreign policy principles had successfully positioned Turkey as a rising power in the region. This part of the chapter examines both the opportunities and the challenges of the Arab uprising for Turkish foreign policy. The popular uprisings, particularly the Syrian civil war, became an important challenge to Turkish foreign policy and the strategic depth doctrine.

Turkish policy makers believed that Turkey could promote democratic values without compromising its national interests or its commitment to regional development and peaceful conflict resolution. With this perspective, the Arab uprisings provided new opportunities for Turkey. Turkey successfully reconciled its Muslim identity and Western values, followed a somewhat independent foreign policy, and achieved economic growth. These positive developments made Turkey a model and a source of inspiration for the states in the region that were undergoing political transformations. Turkey was first proposed as a “model” in the early 1990s and “the model” metaphor was applied to the Turkic world in the former Soviet space. Second, in the 2000s, the Bush and the Obama administrations referred to Turkey as a model, an example, and a source of inspiration for the Muslim Middle East after Turkey had been declared an EU candidate state. Third, during the Arab uprisings, the U.S and the EU promoted the Turkish Model to establish friendly political structures in the region. In this context, the worsening Turkish-Israeli relations and Turkey’s stand against Israel to defend Palestinians’ rights increased Turkey’s popularity among the Arab nations and promoted the idea of the Turkish model. Davutoğlu underlined that “if needed, Turkey remains ready to share her own democratic experience with all interested countries”.

Since the Arab uprisings, Turkey’s regional policy has gone through a transformation as the Middle East region occupied the center stage of Turkish foreign policy. For example, Turkish leaders were among the first to call for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on February 2, 2011. However, as popular uprisings uncontrollably spread across the region, Turkey’s economic and political interests in the region were challenged. These challenges tested Turkey’s assertive regional policy vision. Turkey’s response became more complex in Libya and Syria mostly because of its economic investments and political relations with the Libyan and Syrian regimes.

Increasing instability and increasing number of refugees in Syria turned into another challenge for Turkey. Due to its humanitarian open-door policy for Syrian refugees and its support for the Free Syrian Army (officially known as Syrian National Army), Turkey was exposed to crossborder terrorist attacks. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the refugee problem has reached a critical point for Turkey. According to a UNHCR report on Syria Regional Refugee Response, as of July 2019, the official number of Syrian refugees in Turkey is recorded as 3,614,108.

Bilateral Relations of Turkey in the Post-Arab Spring Period

Turkey’s policies toward the Syrian regime shaped Turkey’s relations with the US and other regional actors including Russia and Iran. This part of the chapter evaluates the transformation of Turkish foreign policy in Syria following the Syrian civil war and the implications of these policies for Turkish-U.S and Turkish-Russian relations.

The Syrian crisis became the most important challenge to Turkish foreign policy. It has affected and shaped Turkey’s relations with other actors including Iran, Russia, and the U.S. Turkey’s Syria policy was interrupted by the Syrian civil war. As the crisis deteriorated in Syria, Turkish policy makers underlined that Turkey desired a democratic rule in Syria. After several unsuccessful attempts to convince the Assad regime to implement credible reforms, Turkey’s relations with Syria shifted from cooperation back to conflict.

The increasing military activities and incidents on the Turkish-Syrian border escalated the tension between the two countries. Turkish policy makers called for military intervention in Syria, but the intervention in Syria and the removal of Bashar al-Assad were strongly opposed by Russia and Iran. While Turkish policy makers underlined that the Assad regime was a threat to Turkish national security, Turkey’s Western partners focused on the elimination of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (the ISIS) from the region. On October 2, 2014, with 298 votes in favor, the Turkish Grand National Assembly authorized military action in Syria and Iraq to protect Turkish interests. From 2016 to 2018, the Turkish Armed Forces launched two large-scale military operations in Syria: the Operation Euphrates Shield (the OES) on August 24, 2016 and the Operation Olive Branch (the OOB) on January 20, 2018. “Both the OES and the OOB were carried out on the basis of international law, in accordance with Turkey’s right of self-defense as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, as well as in full respect for Syria’s territorial integrity” (Turkish MFA, 2019). The Turkish Armed Forces announced that the OES ended in March 2017. However, Turkey had to initiate the Operation Peace Spring in Syria on October 9, 2019, due to increasing terror threats.

Turkish-American relations have soured over the clash of interests during the Syrian civil war, particularly during the conflict in Ayn el-Arab (Kobani). On September 11, 2014, the U.S established a coalition with some Arab countries in the Middle East region to fight against the emerging jihadist group, the ISIS, in Iraq and Syria.

The July 15 failed coup attempt was an important turning point for Turkey’s relations with the U.S. On July 15, 2016, there was an attempt for a coup d’état in Turkey to overthrow the democratically elected government and President Erdoğan. The AKP government held the Fethullah Gülen (FETÖ) terror organization responsible for the attempted coup. Gülen, a pseudo cleric, currently lives in the U.S. His followers held influential positions in Turkish institutions from the military to the police, from the secret service to the judiciary. After the failed coup attempt, the AKP government initiated a “cleansing operation” to eliminate the Gülenist establishment from all government institutions.

Turkey’s relation with Russia initially deteriorated in the mid-2010s due to the Syrian crisis. On November 24, 2015, Turkish authorities shot down a Russian jet over Turkish territory. This incident negatively influenced Turkish-Russian relations; the two countries cut their political, economic, and military ties. However, following the failed coup attempt on July 15, relations between the two countries improved relatively quickly. In the postfailed coup period, when the U.S refused to extradite Gülen, Turkish policy makers aimed to restore Turkey’s relations with Russia. Both countries reached an agreement on several issues including the Syrian civil war. Although Turkey and Russia have had disagreements about the future of the Assad regime, both countries agreed on maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria.

Turkish policy makers did not step back from the S-400 deal despite the U.S’s disapproval and warnings, and the first delivery of the missiles arrived in Turkey in mid-July 2019 (Fraser, 2019). This development would threaten Turkey’s F-35 program. However, Turkish policy makers are still committed to develop strong military ties with Russia toward strengthening Turkey’s national security.

The Strategic Depth Doctrine

Since 2002 there have been significant changes in Turkey’s foreign policy formation through a new set of foreign policy principles. Under the AKP leadership, Turkish foreign policy has become more proactive in regional issues. Ahmet Davutoğlu’s appointment as the Foreign Minister in May 2009 confirmed Turkey’s new proactive and assertive stance in international relations. Davutoğlu began his political career as the chief advisor of the Prime Minister, a position he held from 2002 to 2009. During these years, he was even described as the “secret foreign minister”. When he became Foreign Minister, he was able to implement his new foreign policy vision presented in his book titled Strategic Depth. Davutoğlu is widely accepted as one of the strongest figures in the Turkish foreign policy literature and as the main architect of important policies, which have had a global influence. He was ranked as one of the 100 global thinkers in 2010 by Foreign Policy magazine “for being the brains behind Turkey’s global reawakening”. Davutoğlu’s vision of strategic depth aims to “place Turkey right at the center of many geopolitical areas of influence” by exploiting the country’s historical and geopolitical importance.

In his book, Strategic Depth, Davutoğlu underlines that Turkey needed a new strategic approach at the end of the Cold War to establish good relations by adapting the changing variables of the international conjectures. Based on his statements, new policies were expected to have new diplomatic and practical policies compatible with the necessities of the dynamic international system. Davutoğlu focused on Turkey’s embedded potential in world politics. In this new vision, Turkey, as both a secular and a Muslim nation state, would be able to play a greater role in regions such as Eurasia and the Middle East. Davutoğlu claims that Turkey’s geostrategic position connects it to all major regions in all directions: the Balkans, the MENA, the Caucasus, Europe, and Central Asia. In this way “strategic depth is all about overcoming the old animosities and deepening and widening a strategic horizon through new geopolitical imagination”. Hence, it is not an understatement to say that Davutoğlu’s vision guided Turkish foreign policy for more than a decade.

Davutoğlu formulated a set of foreign policy principles to exploit Turkey’s geopolitical and historical strategic depth. He underlined that its historical and geographical richness would turn Turkey into a global actor in this century. He had established the AKP’s new foreign policy principles even before he became the Foreign Minister, and his policies started to be implemented by the foreign policy makers since the early years of the AKP rule. The following part describes three main methodological principles of the new Turkish foreign policy under the AKP leadership; vision-orientedness, systemic framework, and soft power. Along with these methodological principles, the following part explains five operational principles set forth by Davutoğlu:

  • Balance between freedom and security,
  • Zero problem with neighbors,
  • Diplomatic discourse,
  • Multidimensional and multi-track policies,
  • Rhythmic diplomacy.

During the fight against terrorism, people continued their normal life without any government restrictions on civil liberties. Davutoğlu believed that the AKP administration successfully settled the balance between democracy and security-related issues. For example, there was not any emergency case or any postponement of elections, nor was there any threat to national security. In order to strengthen national security, Turkish policy makers believed in the necessity for the normalization of Turkish foreign policy with its neighbors. Turkey’s new perception of its neighbors created new areas of cooperation. In this way, Turkey provided more freedom to its citizens without any immediate concerns about its national security.

This principle aimed to improve Turkey’s relations with all neighbors. According to Davutoğlu, the “zero problem with neighbors” policy has a deeper meaning than simply resolving problems or improving Turkey’s relations with all neighbors. He claims that this policy aims to create a historical transformation in Turkey’s unstable and problematic neighborhood through establishing a milieu of friendship and cooperation that would serve the interests of all countries in the region. As such, Turkey could contribute to international stability and security in the regional context. Turkey sought for maximum cooperation with its neighboring countries through economic interdependence. To this end, Turkey established high strategic council meetings with countries with which it previously had problems such as Russia, Greece, Syria, and Iraq. Through the policy of zero problem, Turkey wanted to increase its regional collaboration by abolishing visa requirements for its neighboring countries such as Syria and Russia.

Bilateral Relations of Turkey Under the Strategic Depth Doctrine and the Paradigm Shift Debate

The AKP policy makers focused on Turkey’s relations with the European Union (EU) during between 2002 and 2007. The EU membership became the center of discussion in Turkish foreign policy during these years. With the stalemate on the EU process, Turkish policy makers aimed to diversify Turkey’s external relations especially in its neighborhood. Turkey’s new foreign policy principles (especially the zero problem with neighbors policy) as well as diplomatic discourse and multidimensional policies led to a rapprochement with countries such as Syria and Iran. Following the financial crisis of 2008-09, this diversification process speeded up, and the Middle East region became an alternative to the European market for Turkey. Turkey’s export to the Middle East was $3.4 billion in 2002, and this number increased to $42.4 billion by 2012.

The AKP’s proactive foreign policy agenda received some criticism. For example, the neo- Ottomanism discourse has been a source of criticism. According to the critics of the active foreign policy agenda, the AKP policy makers aimed at re-connecting Turkey with former Ottoman territories, especially through the zero problem with neighbors policy. Neo-Ottomanism is the idea of Turkey’s projecting power over its traditional Ottoman sphere of influence. However, AKP policy makers did not identify the new foreign policy with neo-Ottomanism because this concept might carry imperialist implications.

Davutoğlu emphasized that Turkey’s new policies were not based on the Ottoman legacy but on the zero problem with neighbors principle. He pointed out that Turkey’s engagement with its neighbors did not mean a revival of historical and political relations, but was the result of inescapable factors such as Turkey’s geography and history (Baran, 2013: 117). He believed that the new Turkish foreign policy principles were not to be linked to the legacy of the Ottoman Empire because Turkey had no choice but follow certain policies, as it was impossible to change neither Turkey’s history nor its geographical position.

Some circles considered Davutoğlu’s new foreign policy principles and Turkey’s re-engagement with the Middle East region, especially the rapprochement with Syria and Iran, as a paradigm shift (or an axis shift) in Turkish foreign policy making. Some scholars argued that the AKP’s foreign policy activism especially in the Middle East region was shifting Turkey away from the Western alliance and that Turkey was getting closer to the East.

The paradigm shift discussion alludes to the overall change of Turkish foreign policy direction under the AKP governments. A series of events triggered the paradigm shift argument in Turkish foreign policy making. One such event was Turkey’s position during the Iraq war in 2003. The Turkish Grand National Assembly rejected a bill on March 1, 2003, which proposed allowing the American troops to use the Turkish territory for conducting a military operation in the northern part of Iraq. However, Turkey did not look favorably at this plan, because Turkish policy makers were concerned about the national security and believed that further instability in Iraq could provoke some problems in Turkey.

Moreover, Turkey’s commitment to promote its relations with Syria and Iran were interpreted as redirecting Turkish foreign policy toward Muslim states. Turkey’s closer relations with these countries raised concerns among Turkey’s Western partners especially when Turkey voted against a UN Security Council resolution that authorized economic sanctions on Iran. As a response to the paradigm shift debate, Davutoğlu strongly emphasized that “Turkey’s relations with the Western partners is the main direction of Turkish foreign policy”. According to Turkish policy makers, the EU and NATO still act as the basis for Turkish foreign policy making, and Turkey’s new regional and global vision is not a departure from its previous policies and commitments to its allies. They believe that changes in Turkish foreign policy is simply an adaptation to the changing international system in the post-Cold War world and the post 9/11 era.

Implications of the Arab Spring for Turkish Foreign Policy

The Arab Spring started in Tunisia in December 2010 because of growing political and economic dissatisfaction of people with the country’s leadership. The unrest spread to other countries in the region including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. The popular uprisings known as the “Arab Spring” in the MENA region had a significant impact on Turkish foreign policy. Until this political earthquake, proactive foreign policy principles had successfully positioned Turkey as a rising power in the region. This part of the chapter examines both the opportunities and the challenges of the Arab uprising for Turkish foreign policy. The popular uprisings, particularly the Syrian civil war, became an important challenge to Turkish foreign policy and the strategic depth doctrine.

Turkish policy makers believed that Turkey could promote democratic values without compromising its national interests or its commitment to regional development and peaceful conflict resolution. With this perspective, the Arab uprisings provided new opportunities for Turkey. Turkey successfully reconciled its Muslim identity and Western values, followed a somewhat independent foreign policy, and achieved economic growth. These positive developments made Turkey a model and a source of inspiration for the states in the region that were undergoing political transformations. Turkey was first proposed as a “model” in the early 1990s and “the model” metaphor was applied to the Turkic world in the former Soviet space. Second, in the 2000s, the Bush and the Obama administrations referred to Turkey as a model, an example, and a source of inspiration for the Muslim Middle East after Turkey had been declared an EU candidate state. Third, during the Arab uprisings, the U.S and the EU promoted the Turkish Model to establish friendly political structures in the region. In this context, the worsening Turkish-Israeli relations and Turkey’s stand against Israel to defend Palestinians’ rights increased Turkey’s popularity among the Arab nations and promoted the idea of the Turkish model. Davutoğlu underlined that “if needed, Turkey remains ready to share her own democratic experience with all interested countries”.

Since the Arab uprisings, Turkey’s regional policy has gone through a transformation as the Middle East region occupied the center stage of Turkish foreign policy. For example, Turkish leaders were among the first to call for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on February 2, 2011. However, as popular uprisings uncontrollably spread across the region, Turkey’s economic and political interests in the region were challenged. These challenges tested Turkey’s assertive regional policy vision. Turkey’s response became more complex in Libya and Syria mostly because of its economic investments and political relations with the Libyan and Syrian regimes.

Increasing instability and increasing number of refugees in Syria turned into another challenge for Turkey. Due to its humanitarian open-door policy for Syrian refugees and its support for the Free Syrian Army (officially known as Syrian National Army), Turkey was exposed to crossborder terrorist attacks. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the refugee problem has reached a critical point for Turkey. According to a UNHCR report on Syria Regional Refugee Response, as of July 2019, the official number of Syrian refugees in Turkey is recorded as 3,614,108.

Bilateral Relations of Turkey in the Post-Arab Spring Period

Turkey’s policies toward the Syrian regime shaped Turkey’s relations with the US and other regional actors including Russia and Iran. This part of the chapter evaluates the transformation of Turkish foreign policy in Syria following the Syrian civil war and the implications of these policies for Turkish-U.S and Turkish-Russian relations.

The Syrian crisis became the most important challenge to Turkish foreign policy. It has affected and shaped Turkey’s relations with other actors including Iran, Russia, and the U.S. Turkey’s Syria policy was interrupted by the Syrian civil war. As the crisis deteriorated in Syria, Turkish policy makers underlined that Turkey desired a democratic rule in Syria. After several unsuccessful attempts to convince the Assad regime to implement credible reforms, Turkey’s relations with Syria shifted from cooperation back to conflict.

The increasing military activities and incidents on the Turkish-Syrian border escalated the tension between the two countries. Turkish policy makers called for military intervention in Syria, but the intervention in Syria and the removal of Bashar al-Assad were strongly opposed by Russia and Iran. While Turkish policy makers underlined that the Assad regime was a threat to Turkish national security, Turkey’s Western partners focused on the elimination of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (the ISIS) from the region. On October 2, 2014, with 298 votes in favor, the Turkish Grand National Assembly authorized military action in Syria and Iraq to protect Turkish interests. From 2016 to 2018, the Turkish Armed Forces launched two large-scale military operations in Syria: the Operation Euphrates Shield (the OES) on August 24, 2016 and the Operation Olive Branch (the OOB) on January 20, 2018. “Both the OES and the OOB were carried out on the basis of international law, in accordance with Turkey’s right of self-defense as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, as well as in full respect for Syria’s territorial integrity” (Turkish MFA, 2019). The Turkish Armed Forces announced that the OES ended in March 2017. However, Turkey had to initiate the Operation Peace Spring in Syria on October 9, 2019, due to increasing terror threats.

Turkish-American relations have soured over the clash of interests during the Syrian civil war, particularly during the conflict in Ayn el-Arab (Kobani). On September 11, 2014, the U.S established a coalition with some Arab countries in the Middle East region to fight against the emerging jihadist group, the ISIS, in Iraq and Syria.

The July 15 failed coup attempt was an important turning point for Turkey’s relations with the U.S. On July 15, 2016, there was an attempt for a coup d’état in Turkey to overthrow the democratically elected government and President Erdoğan. The AKP government held the Fethullah Gülen (FETÖ) terror organization responsible for the attempted coup. Gülen, a pseudo cleric, currently lives in the U.S. His followers held influential positions in Turkish institutions from the military to the police, from the secret service to the judiciary. After the failed coup attempt, the AKP government initiated a “cleansing operation” to eliminate the Gülenist establishment from all government institutions.

Turkey’s relation with Russia initially deteriorated in the mid-2010s due to the Syrian crisis. On November 24, 2015, Turkish authorities shot down a Russian jet over Turkish territory. This incident negatively influenced Turkish-Russian relations; the two countries cut their political, economic, and military ties. However, following the failed coup attempt on July 15, relations between the two countries improved relatively quickly. In the postfailed coup period, when the U.S refused to extradite Gülen, Turkish policy makers aimed to restore Turkey’s relations with Russia. Both countries reached an agreement on several issues including the Syrian civil war. Although Turkey and Russia have had disagreements about the future of the Assad regime, both countries agreed on maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria.

Turkish policy makers did not step back from the S-400 deal despite the U.S’s disapproval and warnings, and the first delivery of the missiles arrived in Turkey in mid-July 2019 (Fraser, 2019). This development would threaten Turkey’s F-35 program. However, Turkish policy makers are still committed to develop strong military ties with Russia toward strengthening Turkey’s national security.

BİR YORUM YAZIN

ZİYARETÇİ YORUMLARI - 0 YORUM

Henüz yorum yapılmamış.