Can Turkey have its anti-imperialist cake and eat it too? - analyst

The fundamental question facing Turkish foreign policy is whether President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan be the champion of the world’s downtrodden while staying on good terms with those he claims are doing the trodding, wrote Nicholas Danforth in an article he penned for War on the Rocks website.

Attendance at Erdoğan’s inauguration ceremony after gaining sweeping powers following the country’s snap presidential and parliamentary elections last month, was quite telling  in terms of the global constituencies he has been successful in cultivating as well as those he’s alienated in the process, Danforth wrote.

While positioning itself as the anti-imperialist champion of the powerless and marginalized of the world, Turkey has become a friend to those regional powers who reject the current global order. This however, the author wrote, poses some serious dangers.

Ankara faces variations of this dilemma in the Middle East, for example, where standing with the stateless and out of power  has also Turkey its relations with a number of wealthy and powerful states such as Israel and Egypt but also Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

In Syria, Turkey will be faced with the final defeat of the rebel groups it sponsored in Syria, as well as a massive influx of refugees and extremists.

Meanwhile, amidst a number of pre-existing disputes with Washington, Turkey’s already fragile economy is faced with the threat of secondary sanctions due to the ongoing detention of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson.

‘’Can Turkey have its anti-imperialist cake and eat it too? Can it ride the wave of anti-Western resistance while remaining anchored in the West? Can it keep one foot in the Global North and one in the Global South? In short, can it successfully mix its geopolitical alignments like so many ill-thought-out metaphors?’’ Danforth asked.

Still, if the world is changing, it may not be changing quickly or completely enough to resolve the contradictions facing Turkey. Turkey has benefitted enormously from over a half century of close integration into the economic and security infrastructure of the West and the country’s interests remain closely tied up with it, according to Danforth.

Breaking these ties in pursuit of an alternate ideological agenda would be risky no matter what the calculations are.
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