By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 2 of the Turkey Analyst)
Until now, Turkey’s presence in Iraq has generally been encouraged by all major Iraqi groups. Turkey brings important diplomatic and economic assets to the partnership, especially in the economic dimension. Turkish officials have generally refrained from the more blatant intervention in Iraq’s affairs that has aroused popular animosities against Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s confrontational policies against Sunni and Kurdish leaders have now alarmed Ankara about the risks of renewed violent sectarian strife in Turkey’s southern neighbor. If they put behind them their recent spat, Iraqi policy makers would recognize that Turkey could be Iraq’s best friend in a volatile region. Turkey’s interests require a strong but democratic Iraqi state ruled by a coalition of political forces that can promote domestic stability, national independence, and regional security.
By Joshua W. Walker (vol. 4, no. 24 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s emergence in the 21st century as a Middle Eastern power has been in the making for the last decade, but only fully crystallized in the wake of the “Arab Awakenings” this year. Unlike Iran and Saudi Arabia that actively supported counter-protest movements to deflect attention away from their own domestic shortcomings, Turkey’s vibrant civil society nudged the government onto the side of the newly emerging Arab democratic movements. Turkey has earned a reputation under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as being a pragmatic and active actor in the Middle East. Despite the successes of AKP’s foreign policy in the last decade in opening new markets and expanding into its neighborhood through a policy of “zero problems with neighbors,” the Arab spring of 2011 has forced Ankara to confront the new realities of the Middle East. Ankara is now in need of a new foreign policy, post-Arab awakenings.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 24 of the Turkey Analyst)
The year 2011 saw a “regression toward the mean” in Turkey’s relation with the United States. 2010 had the deadly Israeli flotilla raid, the misfired Iranian nuclear negotiations, and the WikiLeaks’ revelations about the negative views held by some American diplomats regarding Turkey’s leaders who were described as dangerous extremists, megalomaniacal, and corrupt. The Turkey-U.S relationship has rebounded nicely in 2011, with Ankara and Washington collaborating on a range of issues. But danger signs abound beneath the surface, suggesting that 2012 and beyond might not be as rosy.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 26, 2011, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, declared that, if Iran came under attack from the U.S. or Israel, its first response would be to target elements of NATO’s missile shield in Turkey. The threat was the latest – and most explicit – Iranian expression of unease at Turkey’s willingness to deploy the missile shield since the decision was first announced on September 2, 2011. It put additional pressure on a bilateral political relationship already strained by the popular uprisings in the Arab world. The tensions will have reassured those in the West who had been alarmed by the apparent rapprochement between the two countries in recent years, particularly Turkey’s vigorous defense of Iran’s nuclear program in 2010. But, in reality, the relationship has always been more nuanced and multilayered than a simple dichotomy of friend or foe.
By Stephen Blank (vol. 4, no. 22 of the Turkey Analyst)
Wherever one looks, Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy is fading. Although Turco-Russian relations have not received the publicity of Turkey’s quarrels with Israel, those relations represent the latest example of this policy’s difficulties. The clash of Turkish-Russian interests are part of a larger theme. They underline that the core idea of Turkish foreign policy during the last years, the notion that Turkey can truly manage to have no problems with all of its neighbors and serenely navigate along the complex shoals of Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucasus and gain leverage throughout these zones, has proven to be unustainable.
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.