Below you may find the abstract of my PhD thesis, completed in 2014, on Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East under the AKP. The thesis was recently released online by the University of Warwick. You may reach the full document here.
Turkey – the “new Iran”: Revolution & Foreign Policy (Working Paper no. 52) has been published by the Greece-based Academy for Strategic Analyses, in July 2016.
The first draft was completed in March, 2016 and was updated a few days before publication, after the coup attempt in Turkey.
One of the most important side-effects of the turmoil in the Middle East has been the crisis in Turkey’s relations with its Western partners. However, the events taking place in the Middle East or the Syria war are not the root causes of this friction; merely a triggering factor. The real reasons lie in the multileveled transformation, a sort of “revolution”, that Turkey has been going through over the past years and particularly since the election of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP) to power in 2002. These domestic changes usher in a new era for Turkey’s political scene that has many similarities – as well as differences – with Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979. As a result, its national identity and ideological orientation shifts, something that undoubtedly impacts its foreign policy preferences, and as such will pose significant challenges to Western actors that try to work with Turkey and secure their interests in the region.
You may also find the PDF on Academia.edu, here.
The latest developments show that the Turkey-European Union (EU) deal on the refugee crisis is in limbo. On the one hand, the EU (through Merkel) seems to be standing firm regarding Turkey meeting all criteria (including the amendment of the anti-terror law) for the liberalization of visas for Turkish citizens. On the other hand, Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is relentless; he is unwilling to accept the amendment of the law under the pretext of Turkey’s need to fight the Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Even though the definition of “terrorism” is so broad that actually allows the violation of freedom of speech and freedom of press since virtually anything could be deemed pro-terrorism propaganda. Academics, journalists and (Kurdish) MPs have already been prosecuted for this reason.
A couple of days ago I wrote a post on Facebook. It wasn’t against the French flag Facebook launched, thought it may have seemed that way. It was about the tragedy of ascribing different value to people, based on their geographies, culture and religion. My main point was that we mourn, care, act and react selectively, based on what we feel closest to us. Not based on a principled appreciation of human life. Which is reasonable, but we should maybe think about it more. This was not judgement. It was just highlighting a fact, based on my own opinion. Raising awareness of the reality that this is how our system works, and that this is how we are drawn to act and behave. I had no intention to downplay the Paris tragedy. Nor did I suggest that one life matters more than others, or that one tragedy deserves more attention than others. Quite the contrary. I’m as devastated as anyone who watched these events unfolding from afar. And I definitely do not see that post as any kind of “activism” – in the age of Facebook, this word has lost its meaning. It was just the expression of an opinion. Continue reading
Update no. 3 – 24 November 2015
A new crisis is unfolding on the Turkish-Syrian border and Russia is once again a central actor. According to reports so far, Turkey seems to have downed a Russian Su-24 jet which, according to Ankara, violated Turkish airspace over Hatay. Russia disputes Ankara’s claims and argues that the jet was within Syrian airspace when shot down. The plane crashed in Syria (see the Guardian map below). The body of one of the pilots appeared in a leaked video and is estimated that it’s been captured by the anti-Assad Alwiya Al-‘Ashar group.
Below you may find brief comments on Turkey’s elections that I provided to a Turkish news agency in the form of an interview after their own request; the answers were accepted for publication but then censored and eventually not published. Simply because they describe President Erdogan’s policies as authoritarian. The same thing happened to me last year, from a different Turkish news agency, with regard to Turkey’s policy vis-a-vis the so-called “Islamic State” in Iraq and the crisis with the Turkish hostages. Continue reading
In early May, 2015 it became known that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are supporting extremist Islamist groups in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. That Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others, have – mostly indirectly – been supporting Islamist groups is not news as similar reports have been emerging from time to time since 2011, if not earlier. But this policy with regard to the Syrian conflict became increasingly overt amidst growing instability and lack of Western commitment to Assad’s overthrow. According to The Independent and other media, Turkish and Saudi support focuses on the overarching jihadist group Jaish al-Fatah which includes al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra – a rival to both Assad and the self-styled “Islamic State,” also known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham). Continue reading