Dec 25 2017

Four Turkish foreign policy trends in 2017

Despite a constant zig-zagging, there have been four important factors that have remained constant, and have come to characterise Turkish foreign policy in 2017, Al Sharq Forum Research Director Galip Dalay wrote in the moderate Islamist Karar newspaper.

Dalay firstly explained that there is a narrative shift taking place wherein the old narrative positing Turkey as the founder of a new regional order is being replaced by a narrative that is dominated by national security themes.

“But here the true danger has been the narrative of national security opening the way to a securitisation of domestic politics,” Dalay noted, while adding, “Fundamental areas of freedoms and political identities in Turkey are once again fast being surrendered to a securitised viewpoint.”

Secondly, Dalay said that Turkish foreign policy was becoming geographically less ambitious, “squeezed between northern Syria and northern Iraq,” and focused on Kurdish threats to the detriment of any wider vision of the Middle East.

Thirdly, there had been a change in alliances, Dalay said. The Muslim Brotherhood had been marginalised and Turkey had fallen out with the Iraqi Kurds. The country should be keeping out of blocs and trying to rebuild its soft power in the region, the director noted.

Finally, Dalay said that a crucial factor in Turkish foreign policy was the lack of a vision that could give it direction.

“But, contrary to assumptions, establishing a foreign policy vision is no easy task,” he said.

“Because this requires the existence of a vision of domestic policy, economic policy and security policy. The theme of how the fundamental issues of the country are to be solved has a critical importance here.”

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