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.
The United Kingdom and Germany have been the latest powers to join the war in Syria though Germany’s contribution will be in ground forces and aerial reconnaissance operations. The UK’s decision has stirred up a heated debate about whether this is the right line of action that should be followed from London, or any other country for that matter.
International bombing operations in Syria have been taking place at least since September 2014 in the context of the Western anti-ISIS “Coalition of the Willing” led by the United States. States like the U.S., France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar, Germany and the UK are participating in one way or another in this coalition. On the other end, Russia and the Syrian regime are also conducting large scale military operations. (See map below)
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
Talk (Video & Text) delivered at the conference “EU Foreign Policy and Humanitarian Aid: Developments in the Middle East”, on October 16, 2015. Organized by The European Parliament Offices in Cyprus & Greece, The Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus & the Diplomatic Academy of the University of Nicosia.
A lot can be said and speculated about the roots and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh. It is, however, undeniable that its military advances and territorial gains in Iraq and Syria have had a great impact on the politics of the greater Middle East and beyond. Its presence, operations and organizational character have changed the geo-political landscape of the region and the strategic calculations of many states around it and across the world. At the same time it gave new meaning and significance to transnational asymmetrical security threats. Continue reading
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