Category Archives: Turkish Foreign Policy

PhD Thesis: Turkish Foreign Policy towards the Middle East under the AKP (2002-2013): A Neoclassical Realist Account

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+rising

Source: thomaspmbarnett.com/

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Turkish Foreign Policy towards the Middle East, 2002-2013

The following is a review of my PhD thesis, written by Dr. George Kyris (University of Birmingham) for Dissertation Reviews:

A review of Turkish Foreign Policy towards the Middle East under the AKP (2002-2013): A Neoclassical Realist Account, by Zenonas Tziarras.

This thesis seeks to explain Turkish foreign policy towards the Middle East under the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government. Drawing on neoclassical realism debates and focusing on foreign policy towards Syria and Israel during the period from 2002 to 2013, the author seeks to offer a “comprehensive and systematically integrated approach which analyses drivers, causal chains and foreign policy behavior.” Continue reading

Shifting the Balance against ISIS, or Why Turkey Changed its Mind

Source: Reuters

When the international anti-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) coalition was formed back in September 2014, Turkey was thought to be a pivotal participant. However, the international initiative divided Turkey’s political scene which appeared reluctant to follow in the footsteps of its traditional ally, the United States (US). Even after October 2, 2014, when the Turkish parliament voted on a motion that would authorize the government to conduct operations in Syria and Iraq as well as provide Turkish soil and military bases for allied operations, Ankara kept resisting any kind of meaningful military engagement of ISIS. Not only that, but it seemed to be turning a blind eye on foreign fighters crossing into Syria through its borders. Continue reading

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

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 Geopolitical Impact of ISIS: Actors, Factors, and Balances of Power in the Middle East

Isis fighters, pictured on a militant website verified by AP.

Source: The Guardian

The ISIS Threat

Generally speaking, the emergence of ISIS has posed a significant security threat to regional and international states alike; a threat which challenges the stability and territorial integrity of regional states as well as Western regional interests. As known from International Relations and particularly Realism literature, (mutual) security threats are one of the most important factors in the formation of different kinds of alliances. As such, it is without surprise that we see unlike partnerships to emerge, such as the ones mentioned below. Continue reading

Turkey is Facing a Highly Uncertain Future

Source: Reuters

The Turkish presidential elections of August 10, 2014, bear great significance for the country’s future as well as for its domestic and foreign policies. This will be the first time that the Turkish people will directly elect the president of the Republic; something which, in conjunction with the constitutional reform process, signifies Turkey’s gradual shift from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

The main candidates are three. The current Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of Justice and Development Party (AKP); Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who is supported by the two main opposition parties (Republican People’s Party and Nationalist Action Party), as well as by three smaller parties (Democratic Left Party, Independent Turkey Party, and Democratic Party). The third and with less chances candidate is Selahattin Demirtas, the co-president of the main pro-Kurdish party of Turkey, People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Continue reading