Turkey’s Middle East policy is imperialist - analysis

Turkey’s assertive foreign policy has been attributed to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)  having a ‘neo-Ottoman’ or ‘pan-Islamist’ outlook, but in fact it should be considered as  ‘sub-imperialist’, said political scientist Gönenç Uysal in Open Democracy on Monday.

What the AKP has been ruling is fundamentally a peripheral capitalist state and it acts like other peripheral states that attempt to appropriate more surplus on a regional scale by dominating and subordinating other peripheral countries, said Uysal, an assistant professor of international relations.

Turkey, a country located at the periphery of global capitalism, has over a long period developed relations of dependence vis-à-vis Western powers, Uysal said. “At the same time, however, over the past decades it has been pursuing ‘proactive’ foreign as well as economic policy in the Middle East, policy which can be considered ‘sub-imperialist’,” she said.

Turkey’s dependent relations with Western countries were reinforced with Turkey’s economic, political, and military commitment to the Western bloc, but beginning from 1980s Turkish firms’ growing competitiveness strengthened ties with Middle Eastern countries, according to Uysal.

The AKP promoted this expansion by a series of trade agreements with the countries in the region, while it developed new relations of dependency with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia,  with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which became two of the top three importers of arms from Turkey by 2017, the academic said.

It has also formed an alliance with Qatar to strengthen its influence and fostered military relations with Somalia and Sudan, she said.

“In conclusion, the AKP’s foreign policy in the Middle East has sought to promote the economic interests of Turkish firms while aiming at political and military domination in the region,” Uysal said.


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