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  • Author: Nilüfer Karacasulu, Irem Aşkar Karakır
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This paper discusses EU-Turkey relations with a specific reference to regional developments in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. In the last decade, the Turkish government has tried to intensify Turkey's influence in the region. However, increasing activism in Turkey's foreign policy toward the region was not accompanied by a parallel commitment in its relations with the EU. In the meantime, the EU was caught unprepared by the Arab Spring in the middle of the Euro-zone crisis, and now its strategic interests are being threatened by regional instability. Both sides have been faced with the task of adapting their policies to the political transitions in the region. After an analysis of their contemporary regional policies, this article argues that even though their strategies are not totally in line with each other, Turkey follows the same objectives that the EU neighborhood policy has pursued towards the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Valerie Behiery
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: he recent book edited by A.C.S. Peacock and Sara Nur Yıldız, The Seljuks of Anatolia: Court and Society in the Medieval Middle East, demonstrates how a cognizance of historiography affords the ability to reexamine a historical period. The book, which emerged out of a workshop held in Istanbul in 2009, reinvigorates the study of the Seljuk Empire. Its authors, in order to compensate for the paucity of Muslim sources on medieval Anatolia, draw from a number of “untapped” sources such as Greek and Armenian texts, epigraphy, poetry and letters sent to the court. More significantly, they employ innovative frameworks that test standard perceptions of the Sultanate of Rūm (c. 1081 -1308) and emphasize its religious, cultural, and linguistic diversity. Thus, while the cited aim of the book is to “explore how court and society interacted and shaped one [an]other,” moving “beyond the more purely political history that has dominated to date” (p. 4), its larger purpose of questioning entrenched views of the Seljuk dynasty and medieval Anatolia, and the methods that it uses to offer up new avenues of research make this book a benchmark in the field.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Armenia
  • Author: Nursin Atesoglu Guney
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Arab Spring gave rise to a variety of transitions in the Middle East. Although initial developments in Tunisia and Egypt created optimism, tragic events in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and elsewhere revived fears about a return to authoritarian governments, failed states and civil war. With no foreseeable change in the UN Security Council with regard to Syria, the country's neighbors, including Turkey, face the risk of instability. Although a recent agreement between the US and Russia marked a major step toward destrying the regime's chemical stockpile, it fails to address the conflict itself. As such, spillover effects continue to threaten Syria's neighbors. This paper highlights the critical nature of the situation and the international community's role in finding a solution.
  • Topic: War, Communications
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mustafa Kibaroglu
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Interest in Turkey and its foreign and security policies has grown significantly in the political and scholarly circles in the world, especially since the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP) came to power with the November 2002 elections. The AKP's electoral success continued in the subsequent elections in 2007 and 2011 with an increasing percentage of votes, which was unprecedented in the history of the Turkish Republic. One particular reason why Turkey attracted much attention in the world was because, in its first years in power, the AKP was easily categorized, both in the media and in academia, mainly in the West, as an “Islamic” party with a hidden agenda that aimed at drifting Turkey away from its mainstream foreign and security policies that have long been anchored in the Western alliance, thereby turning Turkey's face toward the Middle East and the Islamic world beyond it.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Islam
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Muzaffer Senel
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: THE CONTINUITIES, changes, ruptures, and transformation of Egyptian foreign policy have been analyzed from different angles. The changes in Egyptian foreign policy, in line with the Arab Spring and its transformative forces, were important for analysts, practitioners, and scholars working on both foreign policy and International Relations theory. Since the end of the Cold War, academia has become more receptive to the issues of the Middle East. However, in the last decade most work on the Middle East have revolved around a limited number of themes: ethnic/religious-based violence, the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Iranian nuclear issue, and problems related to Israel. Despite the prolific amount of literature on the foreign policies of Arab Middle Eastern countries, many of these works lack a theoretical analysis of the geostrategic positioning of these countries within the dynamics of international political power. Geostrategic positioning helps measure the possible weight of a country within the existing interna-tional and regional system, which leads to the analysis of what role a country can play in international politics. Mehmet Özkan's book is a timely addition to this literature with its in-depth analytical historical analysis and theoretical angle.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Richard Falk
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The end of the Cold War marked the end of adversary patterns of alignment in the Middle East, and the ebbing dichotomy between the U.S. and USSR led to vast uncertainty. In response, then-President Turgut Özal stated, as early as 1991, that Turkey should seek an active foreign policy. It was not, until the AK Party came to power a decade later, however, that Ankara began to seriously question Turkey's acquiescence in Washington's strategic unipolarity. Ahmet Davutoglu's appointment as Foreign Minister emphasized Turkey's independence and activism, causing unease in Washington. Nevertheless, the U.S. has been generally flexible toward a more independent Turkish foreign policy, under the condition that it does not threaten vital U.S. interests.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: James M. Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Surveying today's Middle Eastern and North African landscape offers few straws of hope. Iran's reemergence producing a potential catalyst for a focus on core domestic political, economic and social issues could be one of those few straws. Whether Iran wittingly or unwittingly plays that role, the Middle East and North Africa are only likely to break their internecine cycle of violence and despair when the alternative becomes too costly. A resolution of the nuclear issue offers Iran far more than the ultimate lifting of crippling international sanctions. It would also allow Iran to capitalize on geostrategic gains it has made despite its international isolation. What worries opponents of the nuclear deal like Israel and Saudi Arabia most is the potential transformation of Iran from a game spoiler into a constructive player.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Emre Ersen
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Critical geopolitics, which is a relatively new field of study for scholars of international relations, seeks to understand and analyze how politics is imagined spatially. To this end, it makes a distinction between three types of geopolitical reasoning: formal, practical, and popular geopolitics. Ahmet Davutoğlu is a very significant figure in terms of exploring the close relationship between formal and practical geopolitics in the context of Turkey due to his dual identities as an international relations professor and a foreign minister. Employing a critical geopolitical approach, this paper aims to discuss Davutoğlu's geopolitical ideas toward the Middle East by analyzing his writings and speeches to reveal the main images and narratives that shape his geopolitical understanding of this region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Annika Rabo
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East. The Politics of Community in French Mandate Syria Ethnic and religious minorities – and concomitant majorities – do not just exist sui generis. They have to be constructed or invented. It is not self-evident who is included in which category and who is excluded. It is only once these categories are accepted and used by people that they appear as natural and even eternal. This basic argument in White's book is not new or startling for readers familiar with today's mainstream research on ethnicity and social classifications. None the less, it is an argument well worth reiterating, not least because of its contemporary relevance for politics in the post-Ottoman empire in general and in Syria in particular. White does this by investigating the actual emergence of concepts such a 'minorities' and 'majority' during the French mandate in Syria.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mustafa Yetim, Bilal Hamade
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: As the Arab Spring unfolds, a new power configuration is emerging in the Middle East. Turkey is at the center of the new setting, with a fully engaged leadership role that was adopted by the ruling AK Party. In the Levant area, Ankara's influence is even greater due to Turkey's full support of the Syrian opposition against the Syrian Baath regime. In this context, it becomes clear that the increasingly involved Turkish role in the region has direct and indirect effects on the stability of countries in the Levant, one of which is Lebanon.
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Gul Berna Ozcan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Sovereignty After Empire: Comparing the Middle East and Central Asia The demise of empires left a powerful and perplexing legacy for successor states in the Middle East and Central Asia. Sally Cummings and Raymond Hinnebusch set the scene for this fascinating collection of essays in the introduction, where they address the limits of the Westphalian state system and frame the sovereignty question in relation to the imported character of the state in former colonies. Empires were amorphous, whether as contiguous landforms or maritime empires. In contrast to modern nation-states with clearly demarcated boundaries as prerequisites for legitimacy, empires could devolve variable autonomies from the center without breaking up. Empires may adapt to nationalism and local challenges, but the nation-states that emerge are fragile. What is especially interesting about this volume is that the authors seek to explore continuities, ruptures and divergences. In stark contrast to those who suggest that the legacy of imperialism is no longer relevant, these essays focus on the understanding that comes from analyses of the imperial and colonial past.
  • Topic: Economics, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, Soviet Union
  • Author: Ömer Aslan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Fathers and Sons: The Rise and Fall of Political Dynasty in the Middle East A decade after 9/11, the Arab revolts gave a second impetus to scholarly interest in the Middle East. A plethora of books and other academic and popular pieces have been published in the last few years. McMillan's book, Fathers and Sons, gives the reader a fine, bird's eye view account of the Arab world's journey in particular and the Muslim world in general from the time of the Prophet. McMillan's work is a historical narrative of how and why the Arab world inherited a system of dynastic succession that is blatantly un-Islamic and how that path culminated in the Arab revolts. The book, more popular than academic, is unbiased in its perspective towards Muslims/Arabs and is especially easy to read and follow. McMillan starts his narrative with the method of succession from one Guided Caliph to another. The convening of shura to decide the Caliph in the early period of “Rightly Guided Caliphs” contrasts starkly with the later period, when the method of consultation is abandoned for patrimonial rule. The consequence was that “the caliphate would no longer be a community of the faithful but a kingdom like any other” (p. 23). McMillan traces the history of militaries as the backbone of regimes in the modern Arab world to the period of Umayyad rule as well. It was “army officers wedding themselves to their rulers” that created the authoritarian stability in the region after the 1960s. The author reminds us that “this welding of a loyal army to an elite ruling family [during Muawiya's rule during the Umayyad] became the bedrock of a political model” (p. 26).
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ertan Aydin
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Turkey's presidential election in August 2014 introduced the direct election of the president, ushering in a new era of Turkish democracy. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's election to the Turkish presidency signals the legitimization of the AK Party's emocratic reforms over the previous twelve years. Turkish citizens' widespread participation in the election indicates a non-partisan acceptance of Turkey's democratic system, and its departure from the bureaucratic and military influence under the Kemalist system. Even the opposition parties have recognized this shift, adapting their political agendas and election strategies to appeal to the center. These developments have implications for the political future of Turkey, the Middle East, and the international community.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Malik Mufti
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: During the first years of its tenure in office, as the AK Party focused on consolidating its position domestically, Turkey's reengagement with the Arab world after decades of alienation took a largely unproblematic form. Inevitably, however, as Turkish activism deepened, conflicts of interest emerged both with other aspirants to regional influence such as Iran and Israel, and then - especially after the outbreak of the 2011 uprisings - with many Arab regimes as well. The future character of Turkey's engagement with its Arab neighbors will depend on its ability to combine an adherence to a conception of community based on Islam rather than ethnic nationalism, with a commitment to democratization both at home and regionally.
  • Topic: Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Murat Yeşi̇ltaş
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This article examines the critiques directed at Turkish foreign policy during the AK Party administration. There are three basic critiques leveled at the foreign policy that has been followed by the AK Party: Islamist ideology, geopolitical codes, and lack of capacity in foreign policy. These criticisms will be examined through a multi-layered approach, whereby they will be contextualized in terms of global fragmentation (macro level), regional disorder and fragmentation (meso level), and restoration in domestic politics and the opponents within Turkey towards these policies (micro level). A look at the challenges that Turkish foreign policy faces today and the search for a new foreign policy model will follow.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Joerg Baudner
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This article aims to explain the evolution of Turkish foreign policy through the search for a foreign policy role concept. It will argue that the AK Party government has already adopted two different foreign policy role concepts. Thus, the changes in Turkish foreign policy can best be characterized as the adoption of a foreign policy role with many traits of civilian power (2002-2005), subsequent limited change (2005-2010) and the adoption of a regional power role (from 2010 on).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Government
  • Political Geography: America, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Jinan Bastaki
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: How has the Syrian regime, being the 'odd man out' in the Middle East, survived for so many years under the Assads? Given its survival, what makes the current uprising, now nearing its third year, different? And did the Assads always act on ideological grounds? These are the central questions that scholar and foreign policy analyst Bente Scheller tries to answer in her book, The Wisdom of Syria's Waiting Game: Foreign Policy Under the Assads, by analyzing the Assads' foreign policy and the link to domestic policies and the current revolt.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Andrew A. Szarejko
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Some 15 to 20 years from today, it will be illuminating to examine how academic and policy circles read the period from early 2013 to late 2014 in Turkey. There are many competing narratives about the future of the country. One pessimistic reading that is currently popular with many American observers of Turkey goes as follows: the so-called "Turkish model" was all the rage just a couple years ago. Turkey was prospering and democratizing under the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which was hailed for its successful fusion of Islamic values and democratic governance.
  • Topic: Development, Governance
  • Political Geography: America, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia