Category Archives: Foreign Policy Analysis

Turkey’s Revisionism in the Eastern Mediterranean

Source: Today’s Zaman

Part I: Turkey in the Middle East: The Tacit Revisionist

In the previous article, it was argued that Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East “is obviously, yet tacitly, revisionist.” Specifically, examples such as the Syrian civil war were employed to highlight Turkey’s revisionist goals (i.e. regime change) and its efforts to rely on great powers (U.S. and NATO) in order to achieve them without getting too much involved.

Another region where one could observe a revisionist Turkish foreign policy behavior is the Eastern Mediterranean. There, Turkey is part of long-standing disputes which concern issues such as the delimitation of maritime borders, air-control spaces, and Muslim or Turkish minorities in Greece and Cyprus. More recently, Turkey has also had problems with Israel and Egypt. Continue reading

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Turkey in the Middle East: The Tacit Revisionist

Source: The Independent (Getty Images)

Source: The Independent (Getty Images)

Turkey has lately moved to the epicenter of world politics, and rightly so. The jury is still out on whether that is a good or a bad thing and that is because of its handlings with regard to the Islamic State (IS) crisis in Iraq and Syria. Indeed, Turkey’s indecisiveness and belated actions in the face of the potential fall of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane and the advancements of IS more generally, bring to mind the Turkish foreign policy of the past.

Through the delay to take action or the refusal to allow Western allies to use its military bases, Turkey demonstrated a well-known reluctance to engage regional security problems, a suspicion toward Western powers, and a pro-status quo tendency. These were the very features that characterized the foreign policy of Turkish Republic for the most part of its history; a doctrine very much influenced by the founder of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, and the military-bureaucratic establishment. Similarly, Turkey’s opportunism, namely, its wish to be on the right side of history without being willing to play its part, draws parallels between today and 1945 when Turkey joined the Allies of World War II only a couple of months before the end of the war and after its outcome had already been decided. Continue reading

The Rise of Iran

Source: Reuters

One could be led to believe that it all started in 2013 with the election of Hassan Rouhani to the presidency of Iran. Rouhani, along with his moderate and reformist agenda, bore much optimism among Western countries that Iran might shift direction towards a more pragmatic and less anti-Western foreign policy. But this was not what put Iran to the epicenter of the Middle East and international politics.

Iran’s increasing influence and rising role in the broader region has been prompted by three main developments: a) the Iraq war of 2003; b) the withdrawal of the American troops from Iraq by 2011; c) and the failure of Western policies in the case of Syria’s civil war in conjunction with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (henceforth, ISIS). Rouhani and the new round of negations about Iran’s nuclear program are only “the cherry on the pie.” Continue reading

Egypt Military-Backed Gov’t Takes Decisions that Would Sustain its Own Role – Expert [Interview with Z.T.]

Egypt has lifted its three-month state of emergency on Tuesday. The measure would mean an end to night-time curfews that choked economic life in the country. The court decision comes amid continued protests across the country. Meanwhile, the government edges a step closer to passing a law on demonstrations that the opposition says could be a new way to curb protests. Zenonas Tziarras, Teaching Assistant at the University of Warwick and Junior Research Scholar at the think-tank “Strategy International”, Greece, shared his insight in the situation in Egypt in an interview with the VoR. Continue reading

Συνέντευξη στον “Πολίτη” – Ζήνωνας Τζιάρρας: “Δεν Μπορούμε να Αποκτήσουμε Υψηλή Στρατηγική Χωρίς Επίλυση του Κυπριακού”

Η παρακάτω συνέντευξη παραχωρήθηκε στον δημοσιογράφο Γιάννη Ιωάννου και δημοσιεύτηκε στον “Πολίτη” της Κυριακής, στις 29 Σεπτ. 2013, σελ. 79.

Ο διεθνολόγος Ζήνωνας Τζιάρρας, διδακτορικός ερευνητής στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Warwick και στο “think tank Strategy International,” μας δίνει το τρέχον στίγμα της τουρκικής εξωτερικής πολιτικής και μια συνοπτική ματιά των εξελίξεων στην περιοχή μας.

Για αρχή, θα ήθελα να σχολιάσετε την τρέχουσα διαμόρφωση της τουρκικής εξωτερικής πολιτικής. Πώς επιδρά σε σχέση με την τουρκοκυπριακή κοινότητα και πως επιδρά στην διαδικασία επίλυσης του Κυπριακού, μια διαδικασία η οποία βρίσκεται σε σημείο επανέναρξης;

Παρά το ότι το θέμα αυτό χωράει μεγάλη συζήτηση, θα αρκεστώ στο να πώ ότι αυτή τη στιγμή η Τουρκία βρίσκεται σε στρατηγική σύγχιση, παρόλο που θα μπορούσε ο χειρισμός της στα περιφερειακά ζητήματα να είναι πολύ χειρότερος. Για να αξιλογογηθεί εν συντομία ο ρόλος της στην Κύπρο πρέπει καταρχάς να λάβουμε υπόψην δύο πράγματα – πέραν από τους όχι και τόσο θετικους οιωνούς σε δικοινωτικό επίπεδο: α. Η τουρκική εξωτερική πολιτική εν μέσω περιφερειακής αστάθειας έχει να ασχοληθεί με πολύ πιο σημαντικά ζητήματα από αυτό της Κύπρου, και ας μη πλανόμαστε ότι η ευρωπαϊκή της προοπτική μπορεί να επηρεάσει αυτή την πραγματικότητα όσον αφορά το Κυπριακό ή οτιδήποτε άλλο. β. Είναι σημαντικό να καταλάβουμε ότι η Κύπρος και το Κυπριακό βρίσκονται αυτή τη στιγμή στην καλύτερη τους φάση για την Τουρκία και τα συμφέροντά της, με τις ενεργειακές εξελίξεις να έχουν θετικές προοπτικές για την ίδια, και την Κύπρο να είναι οικονομικά, και συνεπώς διπλωματικά, ακρωτηριασμένη. Μια οποιαδήποτε λύση, όπως και το 2004, θα ήτανε θετική για την Άγκυρα και αυτό, όπως φαίνεται, είναι μέχρι ενός βαθμού αναπόφευκτο. Παραμένει να αξιολογήσουμε τα δεδομένα με σοβαρότητα και να παρουσιαστούμε διεκδικητικοί όσον αφορά το περιεχόμενο Λύσης, πάντα όμως με ρεαλισμό. Continue reading

The Thoughtlessness of the Intervention Advocates – Syria (revisited)

Author’s Note: The following article, titled “The Thoughtlessness of the Intervention Advocates – Syria,” was published by Al Yunaniya on June 16th, 2012. It makes the case against an intervention in Syria. Sadly, more than one year later things have remained largely the same in terms of the Western stance and rhetoric vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis. Once again, at a crucial juncture it seems that the “International Community” (admittedly dominated by Western countries) is contemplating an intervention in Syria. Wrongfully, in this author’s opinion, the debate revolves around legalistic, tactic-related, and grand strategy arguments. Even more problematic is the effort to exploit a “moralistic” pretext, such as the use of chemical weapons, to the accomplishment of immoral ends – related to international, economic and geopolitical interests. In this respect the International Crisis Group report was absolutely right to point out that should an intervention is decided, it would be undertaken “for reasons largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people.” And that is all that matters.

Let us and the international society not fool ourselves: The International Community, NATO, and even individual countries willing to get involved in an intervention in Syria – be it authorized by the UN or not – will comprise a coalition of national and international elites completely dissociated from the intentions and interests of the public opinion and, even worse, dissociated from the interests of the Syrian people. Any effort of political communication by (inter)national leaders in favor of an intervention in Syria advocating that the operations would be “surgical” and that there would be benefits rather than new problems for the Syrians is largely misleading. Continue reading