28 Apr ’14
Turkey’s Middle-Eastern Relations
Turkey enjoys deeply rooted cultural, historical, religious and social relations with Arab countries, especially during critical times as these. One of Turkey’s main political goals is to keep up positive ties with the Arab world through close dialogue and cooperation. Over the past few years, Turkey has made great efforts to further develop and diversify relations with a number of Arab countries, including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. Iran and Turkey have strong economic ties, but usually fall on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to regional conflicts, and ultimately see each other as rivals. Turkey assumes a strong, open anti-Assad position that includes support for foreign military intervention against Assad’s regime which angers Iran, however, both countries stood against Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi’s overthrow. Turkey-Israeli ties have included strong economic and military cooperation before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule, but as of late, tensions have increased under Erdogan, creating a bump in the road when Israel raided a Gaza-bound Turkish aid fleet, killing nine civilians. Relations have since improved, after Israel apologized for the offense in 2013, but turned ill once more when Prime Minister Erdogan blamed Israel for the military dismissal of Egyptian President Morsi. Erdogan has called Morsi’s dismissal a “coup” and has blamed Israel for backing it. “Experts” of the on-going, politically and socially complex middle-eastern relationships are constantly working to “decode” the nonstop events of the region. Turkey is in a fragile position in a very fragile region and must act conservatively given its relatively neutral position in current middle-eastern affairs.
The main reason Turkey is taking the initiative to establish good relations with its neighboring Arab countries is to join the E.U.
It’s interesting how Turkey is trying to build up greater regional power and influence in the Middle East. It seems that Turkey is shifting its focus away from the EU and is instead focusing on the importance of strengthening relations in the Middle East. I think this is because Turkey serves as a great model for the rest of the Arab world and wants to have an influence on the rest of the Middle Eastern countries precisely because they are fragile. Turkey could potentially impact the future direction of fragile, Arab Spring countries.
As Meron stated, Turkey has specific motives for creating good relations with neighboring countries. Do you think that these relations could affect Turkey’s relations with other countries, such as the US? Do you think that joining the EU is a good move for Turkey, or could that ultimately affect its relationship with non-EU countries?
I agree with Caroline, in that Turkey is in a very fragile position amongst these very fragile countries. Any move Turkey makes could instantly break or make ties with any other country, a move that has the potential to change their current political, economic, or social game. I found it really interesting that though they have a tie economically with Iran, they are actually rivals who seem to have little in common. I too contemplate what the outcome would be if Turkey was to join the EU.
I agree that Turkey has a very complex relationship with other middle-eastern countries. However, I believe that its scheme of maintaining a neutral position in all of the issues is a smart move, which benefits it in all aspects of politics.