Apr 12 2018

Turkey’s foreign policy could threaten republic - former diplomat

Former Turkish diplomat Aydın Selcen wrote in his column yesterday that Turkey’s misjudged threat perceptions were themselves the greatest threat to the republic.

Selcen, the former consul-general in Erbil, Iraq, said there were three types of policy choices for a country to eliminate clear and imminent threats: pre-emptive, preventative, and selective. 

“To put it straightforwardly, a selective threat perception can be translated as a search for trouble,” he said. 

“It means I am the bully in this neighbourhood, I can smash the windows and frames whenever I want, enter any house whenever I want. There is no accountability,” he explained. 

Selcen said that one could evaluate the recent policies of Turkey according to this categorisation, adding that it had become impossible to discuss the economic and legal liabilities of Turkey’s Syria policy in a reasonable and evidence-based way. In such an environment, the only choice remained making political evaluations, such as the effects of this militarisation policy on the social fabric or the effect of Turkey’s military offence in Syria on social the contract inside Turkey with its Kurdish population. 

Selcen noted that it was still early to make such political evaluations and added: “Yet, one should at least draw attention to his point. This nationalist-conservative wave which is expected to carry the government till the upcoming elections with a strategy of accelerating and putting on the brakes repeatedly can easily get out of hand.”

Selcen also listed the selective strategies in current Turkish foreign policy. 

“A Syria, without Assad, but united. Close cooperation with the Russian Federation and Iran, but demanding that the United States intervene against Assad. Strong criticism of Israel, but trying to mend relations with the U.S., which is about to move its embassy to Jerusalem.  A strategy favouring the domestic and national, yet military interventions carried out by leaning on Russia in exchange for asymmetric compromises. Turning our back to Irbil, but willing to launch a military operation in Iraq despite Baghdad. Breaking bilateral relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Iraq, but doing business simultaneously with both Russia and Iran, and the U.S.”

Adding that he might look crazy in writing this, Selcen concluded, “The reason for this is, those adventures they embark on by continuously telling us that they are necessary to overcome the problem of survival in reference to imminent and open threats, have in fact themselves become an imminent and open threat that also contain the potential for bringing about the end of our republic. I guess (unfortunately) that the upcoming elections will be our last and only chance of shifting to a regional policy that seeks to strengthen national prestige by establishing peace”.