The presentation I delivered during the 6th Changing Turkey workshop at Warwick University sought to explore Turkish foreign policy change under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) towards the Middle East from a Neoclassical Realist (NcR) perspective and it was based on my PhD thesis.[i] It was argued that systemic changes in Turkey’s geopolitical environment have been primary in driving Turkey’s foreign policy behaviour with domestic politics being secondary. Within this NcR framework the system level comprises of three independent variables (international power changes, external threat perceptions, international economic interdependence) and two intervening variables (elite ideology and domestic interest groups). The dependent variable is essentially the foreign policy outcome – Turkey’s foreign policy behaviour – with the possibility of variation between status quo and revisionist foreign policy behaviour. To trace the change in Turkish foreign policy (TFP) since the AKP’s election to power (2002) I briefly evaluate the domestic and systemic context of the 2002-2011 and 2011-2013 periods. When it comes to the domestic level I remain focused on one of the two intervening variables (i.e. the AKP elite ideology) for brevity purposes. Continue reading →
The humanitarian crisis caused by the Islamic State (IS) continues to terrorize and displace hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East. The autonomous canton of Kobani is now bearing the brunt of the IS’s attacks as the international community has mostly been watching. The city has been under siege for three weeks. Despite fierce resistance by the defenders of the town, the advance of the IS forces towards Kobani is threatening to set off another massacre similar to that of Shengal. As scholars working on issues related to the Kurds and other peoples of Kurdistan, we are profoundly concerned about yet another imminent humanitarian crisis and stand in solidarity with the people of Kobani. We urgently call on the coalition forces against the IS and the broader international community to take immediate action to prevent an impending disaster by supporting the Kurds in their fight for self-defense. Continue reading →
What is happening in Taksim Square is not new to Turkey, yet this time the social, political and economic context is very different. The protests which began as a “green movement” to protect Gezi Park from being replaced by a huge mall, and ended up being anti-government and anti-Erdoǧan, constitute a benchmark for both the domestic and foreign politics of Turkey.
Fifteen, ten, or even five years ago the social unrest currently under way in Turkey, and particularly Istanbul, would probably cause the intervention of the military. In the past social turmoil had always been one of the things that preceded the military coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 as well as in the “post-modern coup” of 1997. Beyond that, the pro-Islamic policies of the government were also a factor that led the military to intervene as it had the historic role of safeguarding the secular character of the nation since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
Young people are once again leading the protests although in general the people participating range in age, class, ideological and education background. The numbers of the protesters may not be as significant as they could or should have been but the resilience of this movement in face of the brutal police crackdown has been remarkable. To be sure the Gezi Park events and the Taksim movement shook the Turkish political system so much that, even if political change does not come about, things can never be the same again. Continue reading →