Tag Archives: Turkish Middle East

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

Turkish Foreign Policy and the Leaked Tape on Syria

While presenting my paper on a Neoclassical Realist theorization of Turkish foreign policy, yesterday (28/03/2014), I was “accused” of being wrong that systemic-geopolitical factors and national security considerations were the primary factors that turned Turkey against Syria (from friend to enemy) in late 2011. Some scholars (including Turkish ones) were saying that Turkey’s regional image, model, and legitimization (i.e. to be a promoter of democracy and “on the right side of history”) were more important.

Well, in the leaked tape (attached below) regarding Turkey’s Syria policy, you can see that national security, including the Kurdish (PKK) threat (which was one of my points), is central to Ankara’s decisions with regard to Syria. It is also clear that they have been wanting to do more (i.e. intervene) all along – which is, again, one of the arguments I make in articles and my PhD. However, a number of factors, which I will not mention here, led Turkey to adopt only an indirect involvement (e.g. supporting the rebels and sanctions). As occurs from the tape, they are today regretting the fact that they did not take more drastic measures in the recent past, although they do acknowledge the practical, tactical and logistical difficulties. Continue reading