Jan 13 2018

West “must come to terms” with Turkey-Iran-Russia alliance - analyst

The West should take into account the fact that Turkey has moved away from NATO, wrote Isaac Kfir, head of the Counter-terrorism Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

“The West must come to terms with the fact that Ankara is now aligned with Moscow and Tehran, which poses a major challenge for NATO, as Turkey is a member of the alliance,” Kfir said.

“We need to substantially rethink the way international peace and security could be restored to the Middle East. The game has changed.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had moved away from Turkey’s earlier pro-West and largely isolationist foreign policy during his time in office, Kfir said.

“Erdoğan has redefined Turkey’s foreign policy, making it more independent and nationalist. The key to the new policy is a shift in Turkey’s security concerns, as the country has become less fearful of and closer to Russia (a traditional enemy) and Iran (a regional competitor and a possible supporter of Kurdish independence),” he said.

“The architect of Turkey’s revitalised foreign policy was Ahmet Davutoğlu, who steered Turkey on a course that was based more on diplomacy (run by the foreign office, as opposed to the Turkish military), economics, soft power and Turkic identity. In pursuing this policy, Turkey capitalises on its geostrategic location to underpin its role in international relations.”

One area where Turkish foreign policy is “paying enormous dividends” is Turkey’s relationship with the European Union, Kfir said.

“European leaders recognise that Turkey is their first line of defence against irregular migration. They also recognise that they can’t afford a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis,” he wrote.

“Consequently, beyond engaging in some rhetorical chastisement, the EU hasn’t challenged any of Turkey’s major assaults on human rights, including 148 trials of people who signed a petition organised by Academics for Peace, which advocated for a peaceful solution to the conflict between Turkey and the PKK.”