Turkey is reframing their relations with Europe, Iran, and the US. The 2007 and 2011 Turkish elections in which the AKP party made a good showing, the Western oriented Turkish General Staff’s lackluster performance on national security strategy of the state, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s appointment in 2009, and the “zero problems” strategy for foreign policy moving Turkey from a western-oriented country to a regional mediator in the Middle East. Present and future involvement in the region does not change Turkey’s relationship with the US or NATO. It’s central interest in the region with the goal of economic and political integration is making it less dependant on the US and more reliant on it’s own. Strategic and regional autonomy, seperate from US goals and interests will serve to make them stronger in the region. Because of the Arab Spring start a few years ago, Turkey has run into a few problems, choosing between it’s “zero policy problems” and their core national security interests in both Syria and Israel, their promotion of stability in the region is being tested. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8632833.stm
Due to the information supplied by the CSIS and the Institute for Strategic Studies, ALU scholars were able to construct a Foreign Relations model providing current and future suggestions.
The situation in Syria, continues to strain the relations with Iran since they are still supplying aid to their ally, thereby increasing instability on Turkey’s southern border, increase in refugee outflows, and empowering Syrian Kurds; conflicting their policy of engagement and conflict avoidance with Iran. Syria and the nuclear program will temper Turkey’s trade and energy relationship with Iran. The bilateral issues with Iran of Syria, Pkk, and the Kurds will force Turkey not to confront Iran on these issues as long as Iran (their 6th largest trading partner) continues to send 30% of it’s oil and 19% of it’s natural gas to them. Uncertain of Turkey’s view regarding the Iran nuclear program, there will be a major downturn in Turkisn-Iranian relations with regards to them actually acquiring and testing a nuclear weapon, the resulting Syrian Civil War, their energy relationship: Turkey will continue to solve the diplomatic crisis thru a peaceful venue. A US-Iranian confrontation is bad for regional peace and security and by extension it’s same peace and security. Under international law the US has to realize that it’s relationship with Turkey has to shift to take into effect they are a sovereign partner with it’s own different national interests; with a wide array of regional interests that will be different than US Foreign policy. Turkey continues to be a viable complex ally that has proven itself in the region as an mediator and a valuable tool for solving regional disputes (ex. their engagement with Syria before the uprising).
Respect for Turkey by the US as a highly nationalistic power is well documented. Despite the issues that they agree on Iranian nuclear weapon, stability and economy of the Middle East, a peace agreement between Syria and Israel, there will still be differences. Turkey cannot be a US extension of policy within the region. Deeper US-Turkish relationship can evolve if they build on the shared interests of both countries. Turkey will always be between the US and Iran. Enforcing US or EU sanctions or increasing sanctions in Iran will continue to be resisted by the AKP-generates a loophole in the strategy of isolating Iran diplomatically, economically, and regionally. One way that Iran prevents collapse in using the valuable hard currency of Turkey’s oil and gas purchases. Continuation of Turkey as an intermediary and mediator will continue to be a disagreement between Turkey and the US. Preventing a violent conclusion about this conflict will have good effects for both the US and Turkey.
The ALU scholar’s Foreign policy Model reflects, 1) Turkey needs to negotiate more with the other parties of the NPT (not just the US and NATO), 2) cease fire and peace agreements will generate stability within the region, 3) the Kurdish issue can be settled by giving them an area within the country and a voice in parliament representing their region within Turkey, 4) listen to PKK demands and look for a peaceful accord, 5) as a sovereign partner with their own national interests, they should approach the United Nations themselves with their own proposition, 6) start their own summit within Turkish territory and bring the parties in question to the table to discuss; nuclear limitation talks, cease fire of the Syrian Civil War, humanitarian concerns for the 100,000+ refugees, solicit the Vatican”s input (Pope Francis I), concerning their inter faith dialogue relative to their vision for the region.