Foreign policy after Turkish elections

We are in a period where the risk of extra-political actors affecting the domestic politics is quite high with the activation of some elements, even international factors.

Foreign policy after Turkish elections

Akif Emre - Istanbul

While there is only little time left for the elections, many of Turkey's main problems awaiting a resolution have been postponed till June 7. It is not possible to make sweeping decisions in terms of politics and the operations of state mechanism anyways. The issue of how the political structure is shaped and the course of action to be decided will determine the dimension of the risk.

Contrary to what is believed, it seems like the agenda of Turkey in the post-election period will be determined by foreign policies as much as domestic political issues. This situation does not only consist of Turkey giving signs that it intends to play a role again in the policies of the region.

We are in a period where the risk of extra-political actors affecting the domestic politics is quite high with the activation of some elements, even international factors. For instance, the messages given by influential newspapers, such as the New York Times, to recommend NATO to step in to “dissolve concerns regarding Turkey” could be one of the indicators of the point we are trying to get across here. It should not be too usual to invite foreign factors, even a military structure like NATO, to design domestic politics, let alone the existence of the atmosphere to encourage this discourse and see it as legitimate.

At the end of the day, even though we do not rule out the fact that this is only an editorial, we cannot disregard the political weight that it represents. The question regarding when Turkish politics, -especially domestic politics- have been shaped independent from such upper design projects is as appropriate as the previous question.

When we close the parenthesis regarding the potential of international factors to design domestic politics and focus on potential developments following the elections, we can say that the Syrian issue will be the top point of the agenda. Therefore, the news leaked from some meetings conducted now indicates that this issue will dominate the order of the day following the elections. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has expressed that Turkey and the U.S. have agreed in principle and that the trained moderate opposition would receive air protection. On the one hand, there is America which wants to use the moderate opposition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and on the other hand, there is Turkey which wants to use this against the Assad regime, both giving a different/contradicting message. In reality, when the two situations are fused together, we get a picture where the moderates, who will be fighting against ISIL, are to be trained in Jordan, and the ones which will be used against Assad are to receive training over Turkey.

In both situations, no fundamental change can be seen in Obama's Middle Eastern policy, similar to Iraq. He insistently continues the policy to avoid being actively involved in the developments, while protecting prioritized strategic interests.

There are two reasons why the U.S. has remained aloof to the Syrian issue since the beginning: The first has to do with not being actively involved in close combat and staying away from it. For us, what is more important is that the U.S. no longer has the ability to simultaneously manage four or five crises at the same time and be involved in them, the way it used to before. This is why the expectation that the U.S. would somehow support, or that the actual uprisings which sprung with America's enthusiastic discourse have come to nothing. A typical example of this took place in Syria. What happened in Yemen was no different than this:

During this process, the misreading of the process by Turkey besides the opposition has been quite destructive in terms of foreign policies and the regional equation. However, in the new period it seems like the Syrian issue is more inclined towards a resolution through the establishment of an alliance with Saudi Arabia.

According to the statement made by the foreign minister, the two countries have agreed to give moderate opposition groups protection from the air –within Syrian borders- under the scope of the train-and-equip program. Accordingly, Turkey as a base will conduct interference from the air to Syria, including the use of armed drones. The meaning of his statement is that Turkey will be actively involved in the Syrian civil war.

Taking into consideration that Obama is not likely to make radical changes in his Middle Eastern doctrine, we could expect the new situation to result in new power shifts in regional balances.

In such an active situation, since we cannot disregard the Russia-Iran factors, we should take note of America's strategy which it plans to carry out without touching the ground and make evaluations about the possible situation. Besides the strategic cost of the Syrian crisis, the humanitarian and economic toll of the civil war is ever mounting. Providing air support to the opposition, which is not limited to logistic support alone, means that Turkey will be actively drawn into the war. The possible ensuing implications of this have not been discussed yet.

The extraordinary situation which could be created by a potential war could affect the domestic politics, while the statement of the foreign ministry saying that they “agreed in principle” is another issue, as it is not certain for how long the U.S. would stay and to which action this corresponds to. A similar support was also in question when the Syrian opposition took to the streets… We know that those who encouraged the opposition and said they should be supported, left Turkey all by itself when the protests turned into a civil war.

In conclusion, there is the U.S., which complains about or exploits the strengthening of structures, such as ISIL, which were boosted by the gap, while Syria –where blood is continuously flowing- awaits a resolution:

On the subject of Turkey's achieving its desire to become actively involved in the region, there's no need to mention that Turkey has entered a more risky period.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2015, 10:03