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  • Author: Adel Abdel Ghafar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The role played by countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming increasingly important. This calls for an assessment of their evolving relationship with countries in the region, as well as their involvement in the Libyan conflict. Increased involvement by Gulf actors may inflame existing regional rivalries and geopolitical tensions. The interests of GCC countries in the Eastern Mediterranean are first analysed in the broader context of regional rivalries. Special attention is then devoted to Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Greece and Cyprus, while considering the role of other key regional actors such as Turkey and Israel. Recommendations on why and how the new US administration should intervene to decrease regional tensions are provided.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Gulf Nations, Geopolitics, Economy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. concerns center on Turkey’s democratic backslide and deepening ties between Erdogan and Putin—but the Turkish president also wants to develop a rapport with Joe Biden and fortify his country’s weakened economy. In the seventh in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Soner Cagaptay offers guidelines for reinforcing the strained U.S.-Turkey relationship. Principal causes for unease involve U.S. concerns about Turkey’s democratic backslide and deepening ties between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, particularly Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Moscow. Yet Erdogan also wants to develop a rapport with President Biden and fortify his country’s weakened economy. Further, Ankara and Washington can find many areas for tactical cooperation in places such as Syria, Libya, and China’s Xinjiang province, where the government is carrying out a genocide against the Muslim Uyghur population “Erdogan needs to reverse the current dynamic by advancing the narrative that he is getting along just fine with Washington,” the author explains. “Thus, in this early phase of the U.S. administration, Biden would appear to have a brief window of leverage over his Turkish counterpart.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Can Kasapoglu
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In late 2020, Turkey finally secured a lucrative arms sale package to Tunisia after a long period of negotiations. The $150 million portfolio, which attracted key players of the Turkish defense technological and industrial base, such as Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAS) and British Motor Corporation (BMC), will mean more than only defense revenues for Turkey (TRT Haber, December 24, 2020). It will additionally mark Turkish weaponry’s entrance into the Tunisian market against the backdrop of Ankara’s geopolitical quests in North Africa, which has become a geopolitical flashpoint encompassing various forms of militancy, transnational terrorism, and proxy warfare.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Weapons , Drones, Arms Trade, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, North Africa, Tunisia, Mediterranean
  • Author: Billy Agwanda
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: During the last two decades, key reforms in social, economic, and political structures have elevated Turkey into a rising regional power. In the Middle East, the increasing influence of Turkey for a better part of the last two decades has been reinforced by its humanitarian oriented foreign policy. Whereas this transformation is extensively attributed to the reform agenda by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the last decade has proved to be challenging for Turkey’s foreign policy stance. Regional dynamics, such as the Syrian civil war, Qatar crisis, and the Kurdish question, have influenced Turkey to gradually shift from its previous subtle to a more assertive foreign policy. Additionally, the frequent domestic political challenges and economic pressure on the AKP government have only pushed Turkey further towards a more assertive Middle East foreign policy. This article examines how regional and domestic political developments are influencing Turkish foreign policy approach. The analysis will attempt to provide a comprehensive perspective on why Turkish geopolitical engagement and an increasingly assertive foreign policy that is characterised by unilateralism particularly in the pursuit of national and regional security is leading to its isolation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Domestic politics, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Abdel Latif Hegazy
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Turkish foreign policy has witnessed changes since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002. Turkey initially adopted a ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy and resorted to solving regional issues through diplomatic mechanisms, leading to improving its relations with the countries of the region. However, following the outbreak of the Arab uprisings end of 2010 and the collapse of several major Arab regimes, resulting in a leadership gap within the region, Ankara sought to foster its influence in the region. This was clear in abandoning the ‘zero problems’ policy, engaging in the region's military conflicts and providing support to the Muslim Brotherhood to enable its rule in some Arab countries. These policies have led to tensions in Turkey's relations with many countries in the region, such as Egypt and Syria, as well as interrupted relations with countries that were considered its allies, such as the US and the EU, leaving Turkey with ‘zero allies’. Turkish officials defend their country's policies by launching the term ‘precious loneliness’, clarifying that Turkey's foreign policy is based on a set of values and principles that achieve its national interests, and that sometimes one may have to stand up alone to defend the values that one believes in. Nevertheless, since late 2020, Turkey's foreign policy has made a shift towards appeasement and the pursuit of improving relations with many countries in the region, with the EU and the US. Perhaps one of the most significant official statements indicating the desire to resolve issues is Erdogan's call in November 2020 to open diplomatic channels and reconciliation with all countries in the region for a quick resolution of conflicts. He also mentioned that they have no implicit or explicit prejudices, enmities or hidden agendas against anyone, and that they sincerely and cordially call on everyone to work together to set a new stage in the framework of stability, safety, justice and respect. This change has raised questions about Ankara's real motive, whether it aims to improve its foreign relations or it simply seeks to compensate for the losses incurred by its regional policies, relieve the pressures imposed on it and to penetrate the fronts that counter its role in the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Appeasement
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Zeynep Sahin Mencutek, N. Ela Gokalp Aras, Bezen Balamir Coşkun
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: Migration studies have seldom dealt with the foreign policy dimensions of refugee migration. Additionally, international relations (IR) theories have barely addressed migration policy. The present study seeks to address this gap by analysing Turkey’s response to Syrian mass migration through the lens of neoclassical realist theory. Its purpose is to ascertain to what extent IR theories, particularly neoclassical realism, help us to understand Turkey’s policies and politics addressing Syrian mass migration and changes over time. It questions the pertinence of Turkey’s relative power and its foreign policy objectives in shaping responses to Syrian mass migration. The research also sheds much-needed light not only on dynamism in power-policy relations but also interaction between the international system and internal dynamics in designing migration policies. It aims to stimulate dialogue between IR theories and migration studies, with a particular focus on the foreign policy dimension of state responses to mass refugee migration.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Migration, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Author: Jakob Lindgaard, Moritz Pieper, Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Turkey-NATO relations are still sufficiently strong to keep the relationship from the brink, a new DIIS-report finds. But more dynamics are also gaining strength to render further troubles increasingly likely. The future of Turkey’s NATO membership has been the subject of heated debate of late, from both outside and within Turkey. What ramifications will Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air anti-missile system have for Turkey’s NATO future? Has the Syrian conflict exposed deep strategic differences between Turkey and other key NATO members? In response to such questions, a number of foreign policy practitioners as well as researchers and long-standing Turkey watchers have cautioned that a number of centripetal forces – dynamics that keep member states together - remain sufficiently strong at a structural level to keep Turkey-NATO relations on track. There seems to be widespread agreement on both sides that the alternative is simply worse. At the same time, the report also argues that these centripetal forces are losing their strength, and that centrifugal forces pulling the alliance apart are gaining strength and salience. Barring wild card developments, the net result is that this will increase the likelihood of further troubles ahead for Turkey-NATO relations The report is based on an analysis of the published policy commentary, scholarly literature, as well as a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with practitioners and academic experts during the course of 2019.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Denmark
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey’s increasing activity in Africa is part of its new foreign policy doctrine within which Turkey is conceptualized as a global ‘order-producing’ country. The export-oriented companies supporting the AKP constantly seek new markets, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to export his brand of Islamic-conservative ideology to other Muslim-majority countries. Turkish government officials and NGOs emphasize the historical connections between the Ottoman state and the African target countries. Turkey currently plays a key role in the internal affairs of Libya and Somalia, upholding military bases and training programmes. Turkey’s emphasis on humanitarian aid and equality, and the use of government-affiliated NGOs, have produced positive results, but the tendency to see Africa as a terrain for hegemonic power struggles against Egypt and Saudi Arabia is likely to generate negative reactions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Humanitarian Aid, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This study analyzes Turkish foreign policy narratives generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and their intellectual and political context provided by Western debates. The approach is based on the assumption that the narratives about the pandemic provide an interesting window through which to observe the long-term fears and hopes concerning international politics in Turkey. The study utilizes Steven Ward’s conceptualization of distributive and normative revisionism as a theoretical framework for analyzing Turkey’s increasingly assertive foreign policy. It also discusses the analytical limits of this concept by introducing the idea of revisionism as a familiar narrative trope in Western International Relations scholarship. The study demonstrates that while Turkey remains loosely attached to its traditional commitment to defend the existing order, it increasingly expresses its dissatisfaction within that order, sometimes pushing it to the limits, and taking action that could even be defined as normative, or radical, revisionism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Revisionism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A survey of how regional media outlets discussed the congressional impeachment process and its potential ramifications on the 2020 presidential election. Across the Middle East, the story of President Trump’s impeachment and subsequent acquittal received secondtier coverage compared to regional or local issues. Many Arabic-language websites and newspapers translated and republished Western articles as opposed to creating their own content on the issue, such as Al Jazeera publishing a translated version of a Guardian editorial. Moreover, the bulk of the articles just explained the facts or process of impeachment rather than expounding on its significance. Some celebrated the idea that there is a mechanism for peaceful removal of a leader. Most commented on the unlikelihood of Trump’s removal and how America is facing unprecedented polarization. Those articles that did offer their own editorial content were split on whether impeachment will help or hurt Trump’s election campaign. Publications in the Gulf states tended to portray impeachment as an act of “political vengeance” by Democrats against Trump, “who won despite their opposition” (Sky News Arabia). Most Gulf papers posited that Trump will ultimately benefit in the 2020 election “after proving his innocence before the Senate” (Al Seyassah). Yet Qatari coverage deviated from the general Gulf trend. For example, one Al Jazeera article asserted that the impeachment case against Trump “is simple, and established not only by officials speaking under oath, but by his own words and actions.” Egyptian newspapers were more split on how impeachment will affect the election. Anti-American outlets in Syria suggested it will hurt him, with Al Baath noting “all data indicate that Trump’s hope for a return to the White House have faded.” Lebanese publications tended to take a more neutral view. The Hezbollah-controlled newspaper Al Akhbar wrote that the prospect of impeachment weakening Trump’s electoral campaign “is similar to that of his potential main rival,” arguing that Joe Biden was also tainted by the process. Most Iranian media tended to copy Western sources, but two themes prevailed among outlets offering original content: portrayal of impeachment as a scandal that has tainted Trump’s presidential legacy, or neutral analysis of how impeachment may or may not harm his reelection chances. A few analytical pieces suggested that he might be able to transform the scandal into an asset for his campaign, since it may “lead to more popularity among the middle class.” While most Iranian articles leaned against Trump, few appeared to praise Democrats. Turkish articles generally depicted impeachment as a “gift” to Trump’s campaign. SETA, a think tank that supports President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that what “hasn’t killed Trump will make him stronger.” Sabah News, another pro-Erdogan source, wrote that impeachment will “unite Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives around him.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Media, News Analysis, Domestic politics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey, Russia, and Washington have compelling reasons to welcome a new ceasefire agreement, however imperfect, but they still need to address the longer-term dangers posed by the Assad regime’s murderously maximalist strategy. Recent fighting between Turkish and Syrian regime forces in Idlib province has seemingly wiped away the last vestiges of the September 2018 Sochi agreement, brokered by Russian president Vladimir Putin as a way of pausing hostilities and dividing control over the country’s last rebel-held province. Beginning last December, renewed Russian and Syrian attacks against civilians sent a million residents fleeing toward the Turkish border, creating another humanitarian disaster. Then, on February 27, thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed when their unit was attacked in Idlib—Ankara’s largest single-day loss in Syria thus far. Turkey initially blamed Bashar al-Assad for the deaths, but eyes soon turned to his Russian patron as the more likely culprit, elevating tensions between Ankara and Moscow to a level not seen since Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane in November 2015. Meanwhile, the Turkish military and its local partner forces launched a string of attacks against the Syrian regime and its Iranian-backed militia allies. On March 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Putin in Moscow to discuss these rising tensions. If the two leaders reach another ceasefire deal, will it last any longer than the short-lived Sochi agreement? More important, what effect might it have on the latest refugee crisis threatening to wash over Turkey and Europe?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Author: Alicia Campi
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Dr Alicia Campi, President of the Mongolia Society, explains that “The [“Third Neighbor”] policy was reinterpreted in content and meaning to include cultural and economic partners as diverse as India, Brazil, Kuwait, Turkey, Vietnam, and Iran. With increased superpower rivalry in its region, Mongolia has expanded this basic policy.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Partnerships, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Turkey, India, Mongolia, Asia, Kuwait, Brazil, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Turkey’s success in the South Caucasus is echoing across the former Soviet space as well as inside the Russian Federation itself; and not surprisingly, Moscow is worried. Azerbaijan is now openly an ally of Turkey and has Turkish military forces on its territory, something Russia had previously said it would never allow. Three of the four Turkic-majority countries in Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan—have taken note of the change in the balance of forces in the region in Turkey’s favor and are increasingly looking toward Ankara for guidance. And some Turkic nations inside the Russian Federation, Volga Tatars in particular, have organized pro-Azerbaijani and pro-Turkic demonstrations, which, despite their small size, troubled the central authorities in Moscow (Vestnik Kavkaza, November 29). Except for Azerbaijan, of course, these all represent overwhelmingly long-term challenges. Central Asian countries are not about to make any dramatic geopolitical shifts unless and until additional robust transportation links through the Caucasus make that compelling; whereas the Turkic peoples within the Russian Federation, however strongly they may identify with such pan-Turkic impulses, have few possible outlets for acting on them.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Caucasus
  • Author: Can Kasapoglu
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In the wake of Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against the dug-in Armenian forces in Karabakh and surrounding Azerbaijani districts, the defense ministers of Turkey and Russia, General (ret.) Hulusi Akar and General Sergei Shoigu, respectively, met on November 11 and penned a memorandum of understanding to broker the ceasefire process in the war-torn region. According to the deal, Ankara and Moscow have, in principle, agreed to establish a joint peace-monitoring headquarters. The Russian foreign policy community has been extremely uneasy to see the Turkish Armed Forces suddenly operating in the South Caucasus, once considered Moscow’s undisputed hinterland (Milliyet, December 3).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Peacekeeping, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Author: Rami Jameel
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On October 9, the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed the “Sinjar Agreement” to normalize the situation in the war-torn district of Sinjar in northern Iraq. The agreement stated that only Iraqi federal forces should operate in Sinjar and all other armed groups must leave the town. It also gave the KRG a say on establishing a new local government, including appointing a new mayor, and planning and running reconstruction efforts in Sinjar, including related budgetary matters (Rudaw, October 10).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Kurds, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Karol Wasilewski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey has sent aid to fight the COVID-19 pandemic to more than 20 countries. Although the gesture has a humanitarian dimension, it is also calculated to achieve political and economic benefits in the future. The challenge to these plans is the dynamics of the pandemic in Turkey, which may force the authorities to focus on the internal situation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Humanitarian Aid, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Karol Wasilewski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The agreement signed on 5 March between Russia and Turkey has halted the offensive by the Syrian army on Idlib and led to a new division of influence in the province. Both Turkey and Russia are using the truce to strengthen their military presence in this territory. The coronavirus pandemic may delay the resumption of fighting in Idlib, giving the EU time to prepare for a renewed escalation and attempts by Turkey to instrumentally use an exodus of Syrian refugees to exert pressure on the Union.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Syrian War, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey is strengthening its role in the Middle East as the main political patron of the Palestinians. Turkish policy towards Palestine is reinforced by the tensions in relations with Israel, the country’s desire to be a world leader of Islam, and the growing rift between the Palestinians and their Arab allies. Turkey will use its involvement in Palestinian affairs in its regional rivalries. Opposition to Israeli-Arab normalisation and close ties with Hamas will diminish Turkey’s relations with the U.S.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Regional Integration, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: It is not the caliphate that the world’s Muslim powerhouses are fighting about. Instead, they are engaged in a deepening religious soft power struggle for geopolitical influence and dominance. This battle for the soul of Islam pits rival Middle Eastern and Asian powers against one another: Turkey, seat of the Islamic world’s last true caliphate; Saudi Arabia, home to the faith’s holy cities; the United Arab Emirates, propagator of a militantly statist interpretation of Islam; Qatar with its less strict version of Wahhabism and penchant for political Islam; Indonesia, promoting a humanitarian, pluralistic notion of Islam that reaches out to other faiths as well as non-Muslim centre-right forces across the globe; Morocco which uses religion as a way to position itself as the face of moderate Islam; and Shia Iran with its derailed revolution. In the ultimate analysis, no clear winner may emerge. Yet, the course of the battle could determine the degree to which Islam will be defined by either one or more competing stripes of ultra-conservativism—statist forms of the faith that preach absolute obedience to political rulers and/or reduce religious establishments to pawns of the state.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Islam, Politics, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper scans the interests and activities of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt in the Mediterranean Basin – their varying and competing interests, their points of convergence and cooperation, and the challenges and opportunities for Israel. The paper is based on the main points raised at the third meeting of the working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held in September 2019 in the Herzliya offices of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The paper shines a spotlight on key elements in regional relationships and significant activity taking place in the Mediterranean Basin, which Israel must consider in formulating and executing policy. It is based on the presentations and discussions conducted at the event and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean