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What’s next for Turkey’s foreign policy after Erdogan’s win?

by alex


(Picture of Tayyip Erdogan and the ‘Four-Finger Salute’ that shows Solidarity to Muslim Brotherhood – from his official FB Page)

What’s next for Turkey’s foreign policy after Erdogan’s win?



















Turkey’s June 24 elections created  a new constitutional order with significant ramifications for the country’s international role. Tayyip Erdogan became Turkey’s first elected executive president with 53% of the national vote. Erdogan’s election victory also shows that his offensive tone in conducting relations with the West and Israel has the support of a significant number of Turks in and out of the country.

Following implementation of constitutional amendments adopted in 2017, Erdogan is effectively Turkey’s sole ruler. With his latest victory, Erdogan enjoys exclusive executive control,  for not only domestic matters, but most of all, for Turkish Foreign policy. This has led many analysts and diplomats to assume that Ankara’s foreign policy orientation, under Erdogan’s executive presidency, will take a more negative turn in relation to the Turkish-Western and Turkish-Israeli issues… Turkey’s relations with the West, and especially Israel, have never been as tense and turbulent as under President Erdogan. In addition, no governments in the Middle East appear to be happy with Ankara’s interference in the region’s affairs.

Same Dogma Different era!!! – Kemal Ataturk Dogma…

Kemal Ataturk (Photo on the left), founder of the Turkish Republic, founded the dogma of “peace at home, peace abroad”… Based on the aforementioned “Ataturk’s dogma”, Davutoglu, the now discredited former prime minister,  had previously based Turkey’s foreign policy on the notion of  “zero problems with neighbors”. After Davutoglu had been replaced in July 2016, Binali Yildirim rephrased and reshaped this Dogma, suggested the Idea of “increase the number of Turkey’s friends, and reduce the number of its enemies.”

Of course, both Davutoglu and Yildirim’s formulations were not original, and being nothing more than derivatives of the Kemal Ataturk’s dogma of 1923…

In contrast with, Kemal Ataturk’s success of his doctrine, both Davutoglu (Left) and Yildirim’s (Right) ideas and formulations failed to produce the desired effects, as Turkey’s problems with its neighbors increased, and the number of its friends fell sharply, due mainly to Erdogan’s singular and harsh approach to international relations.

The Transformation and the New Era of Turkish foreign Policy

The THREE PILLARS of the Turkish State-Foreign Ministry, Military, and the Finance Ministry – were the three key pillars of the Turkish state along with institutions distinguished by their allegiance to the nation’s interest rather than the respective government or the ruling party. From the first day of Erdogan’s presidency, the Foreign Ministry gradually began losing its influence within the executive branch.

For more than 70 years, Turkey’s foreign Ministry was composed exclusively of career diplomats who guided the Turkey’s foreign policy. The systemic transformation of the system that’s going on now, under Erdogan’s Presidency, will have a huge impact on the conduct of Turkish foreign policy. Remodelling of Turkish diplomacy, will rapidly accelerate with the transition from the old system to the new presidential system, under Erdogan’s Rule… Turkish foreign policy will also be affected by the fact that the ruling AKP party lost its Parliamentary Majority after 5 years of absolute control…

The AKP’s new ally in parliament will be the ultra nationalist, the National Movement Party (MHP) that is defined by its heavy focus on Turkish nationalism and agenda that prioritizes national security concerns over personal freedoms. This type of alliance with the Ultra Nationalist Party, will expand on different levels and will create difficulties in Erdogan’s foreign policy making…

Erdogan’s Vision, the NEOOTTOMANISM, and the Alliance of  AKP and MHP

Erdogan’s foreign policy vision is to become the key power in the region, and to build a strong militarily that can stand up to its enemies and protect itself against any external threats

During May 2018, Erdogan presented his “Electoral Manifesto”… making it clear, he would abandon the Ataturk’s idealistic dogma that Davutoglu and Yildirim chose to “move on” with. Erdogan’s foreign policy would be based on “realism” driven by his understanding of the global situation, and built essentially on the understanding that the world is no longer “the unipolar world” (Davutoglu Statement – November 2017)

The problem, for Erdogan’s new era and his vision of the Neo-OttomanTurkey, is that the Alliance with the MHP, will severely restrict and constrain Erdogan’s “room for maneuver”, on the Kurdish and Cyprus issue. Especially when it comes to the Kurdish issue, the most important security driven chapter of the Turkish domestic and foreign policy,  the alliance with the MHP, is diminishing any possibility or options for political settlement.

The Kurdish issue combined with the unresolved Cyprus Problem the last 44 years (Military Turkish invasion at the Republic of Cyprus in 1974)… will further  impact Turkey’s relations with the EU, Israel, and the United States. Turkey will try to prevent the emergence of a constitutionally recognized, and autonomous Kurdish region in Syria. At the same time, Turkey will try to stop the drilling program for extracting Natural Gas from the E.E.Z… (ExclusiveEconomicZone) … of the republic of Cyprus. The Cyprus Drilling program was created by a partnership between Cyprus, Israel, France, USA, and Egypt …

Photo of Devlet Bacheli, leader of the MHP … Translation: “We are dedicated to the cause of life, and thanks to God Almighty, for every game and treacherous scenario, we are standing upright, country and nation. – MHP GENERAL PRESIDENT  -Devlet BAHÇELİ”

The influence by MHP will make Turkish Foreign policy more confrontational on the issue of U.S. support to Syrian Kurdish groups, including the YPG and the PYD, that viewed in Turkey as being linked to the PKK. MHP’s Ultra-nationalism, combined with the anti-Americanism. Anti-EU and anti-Israeli rhetoric and fanaticism in the country, will complicate the efforts to manage the many existing disagreements Between Turkey and the West… Such disagreements are:

  1. The case of the exiled Pennsylvania-based cleric… Fethullah Gulen
  2. The proposed U.S. sanctions against Turkey, linked to Ankara’s planned acquisition of S-400 air defense systems, from Russia.
  3. The possibility of a severe fine against the state-owned Halk-Bankfor violating sanctions against Iran
  4. The Ankara’s refusal to comply with the renewed set of secondary sanctions against Iran…
  5. The Turkish relationship with Europe will become more complicated. The MHP is deeply skeptical of Turkey’s European Union membership.
  6. Turkey’s military campaigns in Syria against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG),
  7. The Turkish incursions into Iraq against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
  8. Visa liberalization for Turkish citizens visiting the EU will continue to be delayed, as Turkey will very likely continue to resist changes to its anti-terrorism legislation, having suppressed freedom of expression in the country.
  9. The prospects for a settlement of the Cyprus conflict will evaporate, thanks to an MHP leadership that views any deal as treason…

Turkish Economy, Growth, and Direct investment, is heavily reliant on the west, with funding overpassing $230 Billion a Year…

If, in any case, we have a complete alienation of Turkey from the West, then we have to be ready to face a total collapse of Turkish economy…

Sinan Ulgen,head of the Istanbul-based EDAM Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, is pessimistic about Turkey’s ties to the West under Erdogan’s executive presidency. He points to the AKP’s partnership with the MHP, a party deeply skeptical towards EU, Israel and the U.S… Ulgen believes Ankara’s foreign policy will take a “turn to the right.” Sinan believe that this will make Ankara a “more belligerent and intransigent ally” for the West. In Foreign Policy, Ulgen wrote, “Under these circumstances, Turkish-EU relations could become purely transactional, covering only a few areas of mutual interest such as the refugee deal.”  

Sinan Ulgen concluts by saying “Turkish disengagement from the West is not a foregone conclusion. It is the probable outcome of growing MHP influence on Turkish foreign policy.  But ultimately Turkey’s future ties with the United States and Europe will depend on whether the MHP leadership prefers to use its political leverage to achieve domestic or foreign-policy objectives. It will also depend on how Erdogan chooses to satisfy the MHP’s political aspirations. And eventually an uncompromising MHP could compel the Erdogan administration to jettison its partner and seek new alliances in parliament. This unstable situation, caused by the nascent internal struggle for power between Erdogan and the MHP leadership, will determine the direction of Turkey’s foreign policy.”

Sources of information:

  • “Strategic Depth” Book by Ahmet Davutoglu
  • Yeni Şafak -Newspaper- (Tr)
  • “Alternative Paradigms” Book by Ahmet Davutoglu
  • U.S State department
  • www.independent.co.uk
  • Semih Idiz, columnist at Al-Monitor (www.al-monitor.com)
  • Sinan Ulgen – Chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe.
  • www, foreignpolicy.com
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclusive_economic_zone
  • https://www.facebook.com/RecepTayyipErdogan/ (Photos)
  • https://www.facebook.com/milliyetcihareketpartisi/ (Photos)


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