By Micha’el Tanchum (vol. 8, no. 2 of the Turkey Analyst)
With the close of 2014 witnessing the beginning of a de facto anti-Turkey bloc emerging in the eastern Mediterranean among the four countries with whom Turkey is in contention, the Turkish government has attempted to reduce tensions by removing a seismic exploration vessel and its escort ships from an area where the Republic of Cyprus has been drilling for offshore energy. However, the stand-down is likely to be temporary as campaigning intensifies in the run-up to Turkey’s all-important June 2015 parliamentary elections.
The question whether or not and to what extent Turkey is going to participate in the fight against ISIS is at the center of the attention of the Turkish columnists after the release of the Turkish hostages held by ISIS. Abdülkadir Selvi in the leading pro-government daily Yeni Şafak writes that Turkey is never going to participate in operations “directed against the Islamic world.” Ali Bayramoğlu, also in Yeni Şafak, writes that Turkey is concerned that the fight against ISIS is going to bestow new legitimacy on Bashar al-Assad, and that the PKK is going to become empowered as a part of the coalition. Ergun Babahan on the t24 news site cites Kurdish news sources that claim that Turkey has been providing weapons and ammunition to ISIS forces that have laid siege on Kobane, and warns that the Kurds cannot be controlled by using the methods of the Cold War.
By Halil Gürhanlı (vol. 7, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
As the the Sunni militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), keeps expanding its sphere of influence deeper into Iraq, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Turkey is facing a very real fear. Its neo-Ottoman dream of becoming a regional hegemonic power revered by ideologically affiliated governments in the Middle East is turning into a nightmare. The rise of ISIS is a painful reminder for Turkey that its Middle Eastern policies are bound to cause unpleasant side effects.
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.
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.