It is very important to underline that Turkey is in the middle of a grueling campaign against the dictatorial regimes that engulfed the boiling region of the Middle East. Stranded in this place, Turkey always looked forward to get the region out of the problem’s deadlock. Turkey adopts a more realistic foreign policy, particularly in the context of Syria, proposing a good treatment to its neighbors only to avoid the dangers directed to its security. Turkey would be willing to create pragmatic relations with neighbors based on materialistic considerations and proportioning stability.
The so-called ‘zero problems with neighbors’ police prior to the Arab Spring was mostly negative liberal in its nature, rather than purely realist,l that aimed mostly favorable balance teens values and interests so that Turkey could accomplish its realities security interests in the context inside its region and outside of the country. The provision of values across the Middle Eastern region has become a key concern in Turkish foreign policy. Key issues for Turkish state are the assurance of internal and external peace and stability to create harmony towards “torn tolerance” in the region.
Turkeys neighbors are mostly governed by the post-Arab spring regional order except Syria who seems to cause tremendous crisis all over the region. Syria didn’t fall in the trap of the “Domino Effect” and as such, it was never Ewing spotted in the good look in the eyes of the Turkish government. Syrian government is doing all the best to keep its wheel rolling down to the path of the dictator, Basher al Sad. This one became vital concern in terms of Turkey’s national security over the recent years. It would be crucial to understand the core of Turkish foreign policy by addressing the realist theories’ principle.
First off, the international system is anarchic because in the case of Syria, no country mind the issue of civil war or the creation of armistice between troubled countries among the region. The USA hat considered itself as the world’s police did not even take a single look into this tumultuous region. So, the all burden was in the “shoulders” of the Turkish state. International system by being the night-watch and also reluctant towards these events, let the Turkey to take the main responsibility to find a way out of this disorder.
Despite the fact of being a permanent member in NATO, none of the countries that are participant of membership were willing to give the key to Turkey to open the door for the Syrian solutions. In other words, international actors turned their back to Turkey only to pave a way for another Muslim state to o towards the ruins of national destruction (or regression), the worst possible thing that can ever happen to a development state. According to the realist approach, the primary goals of states are to fulfill material interests based on friendship in terms of economy and security.
There is no such thing as eternal friendship as we have seen in the example above. Another characteristic of realist approach is that states do not attempt to transform other states in the system in line with their values and internal orders. Whether ruled by democracy or any other regime, all states act similarly in international arena. It seems that this principle was fairly undermined from the framework of Turkish foreign policy. When it comes to national security, it is strongly requested to make a lot of sacrifice. National security is the fundamental principle for any country in the world.
So, interference of one state in the internal affairs of other state sometimes it’s very crucial sometimes. A country will be in peace while its neighbor are in peace. Bad neighbor can cause trouble to you or someone else. Thus, aggression of the Turkish foreign policy towards the dictatorial Basher al Sad’s regime was very accurate because y letting a dictatorial regime in the “eve” of your border would be something very dangerous. What goes around comes around in one way or another. Therefore, the government of Turkey was main “cataloger” that tried to hasten the dictator’s downfall.
The Arab Spring of 2011 significantly challenged this foreign policy strategy of Ankara. The revolutions in the Arab world were desired but unexpected for Ankara. This is the reason why Turkish government initially was, as many of the world leaders, undecided as to how to respond to these uprisings. However, one thing was straight forward: backing or favoring the estimate demands of the people in these countries. The Turkish government put itself on the side of the people who were rising up against the decades- long serving Western-backed dictators.
As stated above, by opposing with the Western approach to the Arab spring, Turkey was also risking its regional actor role as well. The sharp division of the conflict within Syria was in a straight line challenging Turkeys societal security at the domestic level. The lack of consensus among the political parties and the different societal groups towards the Syrian crisis evoked the crisis in the region. The Syria-Turkey relationship today is composed of various key elements such as: political, diplomatic, economic, military and cultural.
Turkey’s main strategic goal is to maintain Syrians territorial integrity, stop civil war and sectarian conflict, and lead the country to form democratic change in a gradual manner. Another important determinant factor between the Syria-Turkey relationships is the religion. The domestic benefit of the alliance for Syria has the added bonus that Turkey, as a mainly Sunnis country, is more popular with the mainly Sunnis Syrian population than its longstanding alliance with Shih Iran. Turkey learned lessons from the consequences of instability and sectarian conflict in Iraq.
If Turkey wants to avoid sparking constant instability and sectarian conflict in the region, it is obliged to interfere power into other state’s political affairs. While Saudi Arabia and Iran are fueling Sunnis-Shih conflict for their own political purposes, the Turkey is doing its best to follow the moderate. In addition to sharing a similar philosophy, a government ruled by a Sunnis Salamis movement in Syria could help the Turkish government consolidate its influence and power in the Middle East. Turkey also infinite diplomatically from its ties to Syria, beyond the simple pragmatism of getting on better with a neighbor.
Syria has acted as a gateway to the Arab world for Turkey both economically and politically. Friendship with the Arab nationalist regime in Damascus helped Turkey to soften its own regional image. By starting to make a more populist line on Israel by backing pro-Palestine, Syria also played well domestically with Turkish ruling government base at home. An improved image has certainly helped Turkey boost its regional clout, and strengthen its economic ties with the region, with trade from the Arab world now representing 0% of Turkeys overall trade.
As it belongs to economic cooperation, the realist theory tend to stress the role of “hegemonic power”, or the need to defend self-sufficient national security within the prevailing zero-sum geopolitical competition, perhaps by maintaining self-sufficiency or by aiding allies at the expense of purely economic objectives. Realist theory put emphasis In the case of zero-sum preferences, attempts by dominant social groups in one state to realize their preferences through international action may necessarily impose costs on dominant social groups in other countries.
This is a case of “zero-sum” references, similar to the “realist” world. Governments face a bargaining game with few mutual gains and a high potential for interstate tension and conflict. 2 Today, it might still be argued that there are certain cases?trade in agricultural goods by industrial democracies, for example?where entrenched national interests are so strong that no government seriously considers embracing free trade. There are also strong incentives for quiet coexistence with low conflict and (at most) simple forms of interstate coordination.
For instance, advanced industrial democracies today no longer contemplate waging war on one another, and in some areas governments have agreed to mutual recognition of certain legal standards without controversy. One case of mixed preferences is bargaining, where states can achieve common gains (or avoid common losses, as with a war) if they agree to coordinate their behavior, but may disagree strongly on the distribution of benefits or adjustment costs.
Under such circumstances, one of the most important determinants of bargaining power is the intensity of the preferences of each party; the more intense their preference for a beneficial settlement, the more likely they are to make concessions (or employ receiver means) in order to achieve it. This intensity was being a prominent indicator in the foreign affairs between Turkey and Syria. The Syrian-Turkish economic relationship also has a vital economic component, a reminder that much of Advantageous ‘zero problems’ strategy is about finding new markets for Turkey’s booming economy.
Ankara also viewed strengthening economic ties with Damascus as a key component to create cooperation between the two states, viewing the integration of the Syrian economy into the broader global economy through Turkey as a potentially profitable opportunity. According to some Turkish decision-makers, Syria was, in a sense, Turkey’s hinterland, and its economy could become a natural part of the Turkish economy. Both countries could thus benefit from each other’s markets and act as bridges for one another to enter world markets.
Thus Ankara hoped to benefit from Damascus close ties with other Arab countries to increase its share in the larger Middle Eastern market; it was willing to open its borders as much as Syria would allow in order to accommodate cross-border trade and to create a free-trade zone, going so far as to eliminate customs restrictions. For this purpose, serious steps were taken when Turkey and Syria signed the free trade agreement in which both sides agreed to reduce customs taxes gradually until they would finally disappear.
The change in foreign policy, from a solely Euro-centric foreign policy to Advantageous wider ‘zero problems’ strategy, was motivated by realism and economics. The outbreak of the Arab democratic revolts in the winter of 2010-2011 caused a dramatic rupture in this regard by forcing a revision of foreign policy, according to which Turkey emerged as the champion of democratic transformations in the egging. 3 The victim of this revision, however, was the strategic partnership with the Syrian regime that Turkey had built in the last decade.
Under the cloak of Turkish democracy promotion in Syria lies a realist mindset regarding the rise of an Iran-led Shih bloc. The uprising of the terrorist group of ISIS, and ongoing fighting between Kurdish people and terrorist group (SILL), the war between free Syrian army (supported by Turkey) against dictatorial regime of Sad, clashes between Iraqi Military against ISIS forces, Cabana province and Sardinian issue, al these events, made Turkey to switch gears from liberal foreign policy to realist one.
Now, it is obvious that the government has often followed a mainly realist foreign policy approach in the Middle East and used the idealism for the minimization of Turkish national interests. Other dangerous challenge to Ankara will be the strengthening of armed jihads groups in northern Syria and in Turkey itself. Turkey is becoming vulnerable towards these hostile groups. However, any threat move made by Turkey against the shadiest would probably force Turkey to pay the price for taking risky actions.
It could be a payback from terrorist groups towards the policy of the Turkish state. This would be more hazardous as they can move freely to Turkey and organize their actions, for instance by recruiting hundred or thousand militants that are located in the refugee’s camps inside the Turkish territory. Simply in terms of Turkish domestic politics, a protracted Syrian civil war means increasing instability with a mass influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey and the possible revival of the PACK threat from across the Syrian border. Even if Damascus does not intend to use the
PACK against Turkey, the PACK may attempt to take advantage of the unstable environment and a potential power vacuum in Syria to resume attacks on Turkey. Thus, it was very disputable topic the acceptance of 2 million refuges inside the borders of the Turkish state. According to the theory of E. H. Carr that is build up upon 4 pillar: ” limitations of realism” as: 1) finite goal – realism doesn’t give purpose, 2) emotional appeal – war against everyone, 3) a right for moral judgment and 4) a ground for action; and the main issue is how to know if this policy is leaning close to moral judgment or not.
Acceptance of these refugees is considered as the main Turkish strategy movement to show different viewing points (more liberal in the sense) towards Sad’s regime. As E. H. Carr indicates: every characteristic of ethics, norms and values can be displayed in the “channel” of politics. So, acceptance of the refugees in Turkish border, should be viewed more or less as moral judgment. In my opinion sheltering innocent people of the Syrian people inside of Turkey manifest two controversy points: 1 .
The Turkey want to make clear to Syria that it is always ready to find out a common language ND it’s willing to make bilateral agreement between both parties. 2. If Syrian regime continues its blindness, the Turkey is telling that the state that is dealing with is most hegemonic country in the region by protecting the people from your brutality and criminal policies and also is reminding that Turkish sate knows very well to show the “Iron Fist” when it comes to dictatorial regimes like that. This policy is either through agreements between two parties or conflicts.
And think the Syria chose the wrong side- conflict side. That would be disastrous in the near future for Syria. Another defiance to Turkey’s security and regional session will be the gradual reinforcement of the Kurdish autonomy managed by the PAD in northern Syria. Turkey’s room for any possible action is limited in this case also: a juxtaposition with the PAD would lead to the sparkle of the war with the PACK on Turkey’s own territory, while a policy of non-involvement would strengthen the Pack’s regional position at the expense of Ankara.
The creation of a Kurdish autonomy in Syria would also considerably weaken Turkey’s regional position. Being isolated in this troubled region, the only way out for Turkey that explains the current foreign policy is the Offensive realism. Turkey now is like a “toasted sandwich” by all neighborhood countries that are soft of striving for their own survival against enormous threats of the terrorist groups. Thus, disenchantment of Turkey and the total disappointment from the help of European powers in the solution of the ongoing occurrence, forced Turkey to steer the wheel towards Offensive realism.
This absolutely proves that international arena is anarchical because it couldn’t propose even the smallest problem solving in the Middle East region. It appears that the Turkish state’s policy is compatible with offensive realism after having all elements hat this theory needs including the crucial ones: offensive military capability, power and security. Turkey possess offensive military capability so the state can easily preserve the national security from external threats such as the group of terrorist, extremists or new-nationalist etc.
According to John Merchandiser’s theory, a state needs to possess to ensure its security and issuing strategy states pursue to meet this satisfactory level of security. He also points out that realism also emphasizes that states are in fact power-maximizing revisionists towards aggressive intentions. The aggressive and unpredictable intentions are very obvious in the Syrians occasion when the Sad’s stubborn regime and other terrorist groups (like ISIS in Iraq), gripped the power not only to create chaotic environment in the internal affairs but also in external environment of the area.
Regarding this attitude of Syrian tyrannical government and radicalism, the Turkish policy flipped from liberal one to offensive realism. Trapped inside the cage of Middle East, current Turkey foreign policy gave a partial divergence to the so called “zero neighborhood problem” by introducing different strategies o achieve the main strategic goals: maximizing security and power by showing response to extremist frameworks, creating cozy atmosphere dominated by primary goals as survival and stability, advocating regime changes to fulfill its own aims throughout the area.
The Turkish government considers the war in Syria as a real and serious threat for Ankara. The Syrian war is getting high attention from Ankara because any possible failure in Syria would affect not only the future of Turkey but overall future of the near-abroad countries. To wrap it up, final destination of Turkish government’s strategic is to form a positive environment in the regional actors can jointly shape the future security of the region as a whole.
Finally, it should be underlined that Turkey is designating carefully the security of the regional transformation in order to enjoy a peaceful “symbiosis “of all actors in the region. To this end, Turkish government will concentrate itself on annihilating the strategic antagonisms among the regional actors by using Turkeys strategic flexibility as the main satellite throughout the Middle East area. Conclusion: Despite the glorious successes of the Turkish “soft power” approach, it was to able to sustain the influence on the Syrian regime as it had been expected.
Turkey is the leading regional actor, which can probably play the most significant role in sustaining regional security and order. The strategic flexibility of Turkish is considered to be the main backbone of Turkey’s success story in regional politics during the last decade. Several political and economic development in region, became huge threat not only for Turkish foreign policy but also for its national security. The gadgets of “soft power” have clear limits mainly when it comes to dictatorial states.
Bilateral relations, diplomatic meetings and agreements, the consensus of the internal and external political affairs meant too little for the obscure regime of Sad. While Turkey is trying to do the best to form better relations with the regimes, the main obstacle is the evil tendency of Sad to preserve its uninterrupted power for many years. Therefore, it’s normal for the so called “zero problem with neighbors” to be inefficient because it was tested towards tyrannical regime. This theory is only compatible with the countries that are democratic and understand the common language (consensus) or consent f the people.