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  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the European Union (EU) debates its new post-2020 funding instruments, EU civil society support faces a pivotal moment. The union has been fine-tuning this support in recent years and is now contemplating further reforms. Civil society around the world is undergoing far-reaching changes as new types of informal activism emerge, governments try to constrict civic activity, and digital technology has major political implications. Against this backdrop, this analysis proposes ten practical ideas for how EU civil society assistance needs to evolve. It focuses on the countries that fall under the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)—Turkey and the countries of the Western Balkans—and the six states of the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. This research examines how EU funding mechanisms need to change and assesses whether current financing proposals are likely to be beneficial or damaging. It suggests how the EU can overcome the main challenges of supporting newer forms of activism. And it explores how the EU can best help civil society to resist the heightened repression it faces in most IPA and EaP states. To improve its civil society assistance, the EU should: 1. tie critical measures to civil society support; 2. set minimum thresholds for mainstreaming; 3. engage with unfamiliar civil society partners; 4. define clearer rules on government-organized nongovernmental organizations (GONGOs); 5. focus on systemic resilience; 6. help local fund raising; 7. widen support networks; 8. better connect civil society to politics; 9. assess the civil society impacts of other EU policies; and 10. link civil society to foreign policy. This publication does not attempt to give a comprehensive or detailed account of all aspects of EU civil society support—something Carnegie has covered elsewhere.1 Rather, it offers a snapshot of the current state of play in this area of policy at a moment when the EU is debating significant changes and is set to make decisions that will affect the future course of its civil society support.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Social Movement, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe, Balkans, European Union
  • Author: Kirill Semenov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The situation in Idlib poses a challenge to the Assad government. Damascus has neither the forces nor the means to resolve the problem. Moreover, any operation conducted against the Syrian moderate opposition and the radical alliance “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS) concentrated in this region could be significantly problematic for the government. Turkey seeks to establish a protectorate or security zone in Idlib to accommodate those fleeing regime-held areas and prevent a new refugees flow into Turkey. The gains achieved by the Turkish operation in Idlib by the establishment of the security zone has potentially been lost as a result of the subsequent Russian backed Syrian government offensive, which has created a problem for Turkey with hundreds of thousands heading toward the Turkish border and threatening to exasperate what is already a costly refugee problem for Ankara. In order for Turkey to address issues in Idlib, including IDPs and economic problems, it first needs to deal with the HTS, ideally finding a way to dissolve the group. This could potentially be an area of cooperation for Moscow and Ankara. This may be necessary to prevent a deterioration in the security situation and long-term destabilisation of the area.
  • Topic: Security, Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Displacement, Syrian War, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Transition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Serhat Erkmen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Peace Spring Operation (PSO), launched on 9 October 2019, was Turkey’s military/diplomatic/political offensive against the People's Defence Units (YPG) in Syria and beyond and was triggered by key dynamics in the country. The first was the redeployment of US troops in the northeast of Syria; second was the expansion of Russia’s area of influence towards the east of the Euphrates; third was the launch of a new phase of the Assad government’s operation in Idlib; forth was a re-evaluation of YPG’s patron-client relationship with the United States and the European Union. Turkey sought to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state and to address the Syrian refugee issue. While Turkey was able to achieve some strategic gains via the PSO, many challenges remain which prevent Ankara from achieving all its objectives. This paper argues that PSO should be analysed in the context of Turkey’s two former operations in Syria, Euphrates Shield Operation (ESO) and Olive Branch Operation (OBO).
  • Topic: Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Transition, YPG
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Keller
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Since the fall of Baghuz city in North East of Syria in March 2019, thousands of women, children and former IS fighters have been imprisoned in either camps or prisons. Following the Turkish military operation in October 2019, the security conditions have deteriorated, resulting in fewer guards as well as more instability and vulnerability for all those imprisoned. The worsening living conditions, the absence of adequate medical care and lack of access to education endanger the future of the children imprisoned in the camp. Moreover, the influence of the Muhajirats remains constant as a means for the spreading of propaganda inside and outside the camps.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Children, Women, Islamic State, Transition
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper scans the interests and activities of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt in the Mediterranean Basin – their varying and competing interests, their points of convergence and cooperation, and the challenges and opportunities for Israel. The paper is based on the main points raised at the third meeting of the working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held in September 2019 in the Herzliya offices of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The paper shines a spotlight on key elements in regional relationships and significant activity taking place in the Mediterranean Basin, which Israel must consider in formulating and executing policy. It is based on the presentations and discussions conducted at the event and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Irina Tsukerman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The recent news about the involvement of Iranian diplomats in the murder of an Iranian dissident in Turkey sparked a flare of international interest from within the all-encompassing coronavirus pandemic coverage, largely thanks to unflattering comparisons with coverage of the Jamal Khashoggi murder in 2018 (which the Iranian press promoted with gusto). The relative lack of interest in the crime from within Turkey itself reflects Ankara’s willingness to consort with Shiite Islamists to its own advantage.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Geopolitics, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Anna Getmansky, Konstantinos Matakos, Tolga Sinmazdemir
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
  • Abstract: How can refugees overcome barriers to integration in the host country? Refugees often face economic, social, and political discrimination by the local population. Ethnicity, religion, and refugees' past involvement in political violence can further exacerbate these biases. We examine whether host country's citizens reduce anti-refugee attitudes if they know that refugees have made proactive effort to integrate by forging social ties with the locals and learning the local language. Unlike most of the previous studies, we examine a non-Western country-Turkey-that hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees (3.6 million). We field a conjoint survey experiment-a method previously applied to study migration attitudes in the West-to 2,362 respondents in Turkey, presenting them with profiles of Syrian refugees that vary by demographics, ethnicity, religion, and involvement in the Syrian civil war. Respondents rank each profile in order of support for social, economic and political integration. We find that although Turkey is a Muslim country hosting predominantly co-religious refugees, not all refugees are perceived equally. There is a significant bias against Arabs and Kurds compared to Turkomans, and against former pro-regime fighters. Although information on refugees' effort strengthens support for their integration, not all disadvantaged groups benefit equally from it. Such information has a more robust effect on boosting support for Kurdish refugees, and has a limited effect on support for integration of Arabs and former pro-regime fighters. Importantly, information on proactive effort also strengthens support for groups that experience less discrimination (Turkomans and non-fighters), thereby potentially exacerbating inequalities among the refugees.
  • Topic: Religion, Refugee Issues, Refugees, Refugee Crisis, Discrimination, Identities
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Syria
  • Author: Dragana Kaurin
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: For the millions of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution every year, access to information about their rights and control over their personal data are crucial for their ability to assess risk and navigate the asylum process. While asylum seekers are required to provide significant amounts of personal information on their journey to safety, they are rarely fully informed of their data rights by UN agencies or local border control and law enforcement staff tasked with obtaining and processing their personal information. Despite recent improvements in data protection mechanisms in the European Union, refugees’ informed consent for the collection and use of their personal data is rarely sought. Using examples drawn from interviews with refugees who have arrived in Europe since 2013, and an analysis of the impacts of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal on migration, this paper analyzes how the vast amount of data collected from refugees is gathered, stored and shared today, and considers the additional risks this collection process poses to an already vulnerable population navigating a perilous information-decision gap.
  • Topic: United Nations, Refugee Issues, European Union, Asylum, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Başak Yavçan
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Discussion paper for the workshop on: “The Politics and Modalities of Reconstruction in Syria”, Geneva, Switzerland, 7-8 February 2019. Turkey hosts the majority of the Syrian refugees, with 3, 636 617 registered Syrians. From 2015, Turkish authorities moved from a policy of temporary protection, to one of integration, while also promoting voluntary return. According to statistics from Directorate General of Migration Management of Turkey (DGMM), in 2018, 254, 000 Syrians voluntarily returned to Syria. This was thought to be the effect of new government policies promoting return, such as permits for holiday visits and family reunion. However, 194, 000 of these re-entered Turkey, casting doubt on the actual impact of these policies as well as the security and economic conditions inside Syria, which would accommodate return.
  • Topic: Government, Migration, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In October 2018, the Mitvim Institute held its annual Israel-Turkey policy dialogue, for the seventh consecutive year. The dialogue took place in Istanbul, in cooperation with FriedrichEbert-Stiftung, and was participated by Dr. Nimrod Goren, Dr. Roee Kibrik and Arik Segal of the Mitvim Institute. The policy dialogue included a series of meetings and discussions, with Turkish scholars, journalists, former diplomats, and civil society activists. It focused on Israel-Turkey relations, in light of the current crisis in ties, and on Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East. The policy dialogue aimed at helping improve Israel-Turkey relations, by enabling experts from both countries to exchange views on regional developments, to identify opportunities for better bilateral relations, and to increase cooperation between researchers and policy analysts from both countries. Throughout the dialogue, there was a sense that Turkey and Israel can find a way to overcome their current crisis and to reinstate ambassadors. Nevertheless, such progress is not expected to lead to a significant breakthrough in the relations. The Turkish counterparts expressed hope that Israel and Turkey will resume talks on natural gas export from Israel; shared their concern over what they perceive as Israel's support of the Kurds in northern Syria; and pointed out that Turkey and Iran should not be considered by Israel as allies, but rather as countries that cooperate at times regarding shared interest but are also competing with each other and adhering to different ideologies and beliefs. The dialogue also emphasized the importance attributed in Turkey to Jewish community in the US, and to the impact it has on the American discourse towards Turkey as well as on US policy towards the Middle East. This paper highlights key insights from the meetings and discussions that took place throughout the policy dialogue. It does not reflect consensus among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In recent years, the Eastern Mediterranean has become a central focus of world powers, of states in the Middle East, Europe, and beyond, and of international corporations. Regional geopolitical developments, as well as economic opportunities generated by natural gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, have contributed to this trend and turned the Eastern Mediterranean into a distinct sub-region perceived as having unique features. Israel plays a central role in this development. Israeli diplomacy identified these trends correctly, successfully becoming an active and dominant player in the region. The natural gas findings in Israel’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) provide it with a wider range of diplomatic options, helping it promote relationships with various states in the region; including some engaged in conflict with each other. Israelis regard the Mediterranean as an important component of their identity, as reflected in the 2018 Israeli Foreign Policy Index of the Mitvim Institute, in which 22 percent of those surveyed claimed Israel belongs predominantly to this region (compared with 28 percent who said it belongs to the Middle East and 23 percent to Europe).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Turkey is in every way ideally placed to bridge the EU with its southern neighbours and together tackle their common challenges and myriad business opportunities. The question is, can they align priorities and policies to make the most of the opportunities? The answer is: not easily. Given the complexity of and uncertainty in Turkey and Iraq, as well as Syria’s security dynamics, sustained EU-Turkey convergence in all areas of common interest is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Although both Turkey and the EU have adopted multifaceted foreign policies vis-a-vis the Middle Eastern countries, yet they have converged only on specific issues, such as dealing with the Iran nuclear deal. Both sides consider the US withdrawal from the deal as a “matter of concern”, believing that maintaining the deal and keeping Iran engaged through diplomatic and economic means instead of sanctions or military threats is crucial even after the US withdrawal. Otherwise, Turkey and the EU diverge on the overall approach to the most troubled neighbours, namely Iraq and Syria, which have been sources of grave concern to all. Iraq continues to be a fragile country, struggling to keep its integrity. The country was at the brink of failure between 2014-2017 after the emergence of the so called Islamic State (IS), and further threatened by the Kurdish referendum for independence in 2017. Iraq was pulled back to survival, mainly by international assistance. Interestingly, in 2018 Iraq saw two transformative general elections, one for the Federal and the other for the Kurdistan Region’s Parliament. The outcome of these elections brought about a degree of change in the political landscape, a sense of optimism for future recovery and a clear promise for creating new business opportunities for international partners. However, in keeping with the past, the formation of government in both Baghdad and Erbil became protracted and problematic. These features indicate that the Iraqi leaders remain ill focused on the country’s priorities in terms of state-building and provision of services or addressing the root causes of its fragility. Turkey and the EU share the objectives of accessing Iraq’s market and energy supply, and prevent onward migration of the displaced populations. Of course, the EU is to a large extent dependent on Turkey to achieve its goals. Therefore, it would make sense for the two sides to converge and cooperate on these issues. However, Turkey’s foreign policies in the southern neighbourhood are driven primarily by its own domestic and border security considerations and – importantly – Turkey sees the economic, political and security issues as inextricable. While Iraq has lost its state monopoly over legitimate violence and is incapable of securing its borders, Turkey often takes matters into its own hands by invading or intervening in Iraq, both directly and indirectly (through proxies). Of course, the Iraqi government considers Turkey’s interventions as acts of aggression and violations of its borders, but is unwilling to take measures against them. For Iraq, Turkey is a regional power and an indispensable neighbour. It has control over part of Iraq’s oil exports, water supply and trade routes. The EU, on the other hand, considers Turkey’s interventions as acts of self-defence but frowns upon them as destabilising factors, adding to the fragility of Iraq. In Syria, the political landscape and security dynamics are very different from Iraq, but the EU-Turkish policies follow similar patterns. Syria remains a failed state with its regime struggling to secure survival and regain control over its territories. Meanwhile, Turkey has become increasingly interventionist in Syria via direct military invasion and through proxies, culminating in the occupation of a significant area west of Euphrates, and threatening to occupy the Eastern side too. Turkey has put extreme pressure on the USA for permission to remove the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) and its lead organisation (Democratic Union Party, PYD) from governing North East Syria (also referred to as Rojava). However, the EU and USA consider the SDF and PYD indispensable in the fight against IS and fear the Turkish interventions may have grave consequences. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission recently emphasised that “Turkey is a key partner of the EU”, and that the EU expect the “Turkish authorities to refrain from any unilateral action likely to undermine the efforts of the Counter-IS Coalition”. Therefore, EU-Turkey divergence or even conflict with some EU Member States is possible over Syria.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, European Union, Islamic State, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This timely session was dedicated to a debate with the President of Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to discuss central geo-political and domestic developments, including the protests and the crisis of governance in Baghdad; the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria (particularly Rojava); and finally, the effects of internal political fissures within the KRI.
  • Topic: Development, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Baghdad, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Turkey expects Chinese support for its incursion into Syria against the Kurds, but in return, China expects Turkey to turn a blind eye to its persecution of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. Turkey’s refusal to fully recognize Kurdish rights is thus intertwined with China’s brutal crackdown in its troubled northwestern province. Both parties justify their actions as efforts in the fight against terrorism.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Ethnic Cleansing, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: China, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria, Xinjiang
  • Author: Bircan Polat
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Following the March 31, 2019 local elections, the indebtedness of local governments has once again emerged as a subject of public debate in Turkey. Local government expenditures took center stage in these debates, yet much less attention has been paid to potential sources of revenue for local governments. Generation of internal sources of municipal revenue is no less important than the issue of expenditures as it pertains to the relative financial independence of municipalities from the central government. Among potential sources of municipal revenue, a significant one is taxation on urban (land) rent which occurs as a result of a few distinct processes: transformation of agricultural land into urban land due to population increase, migration, industrialization; zoning change that renders the property more valuable due to a number of potential factors such as greater proximity to parks, attractions, or highway systems.
  • Topic: Governance, Economy, Tax Systems, Public Sector, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Richard Youngs, Gareth Fowler, Arthur Larok, Pawel Marczewski, Vijayan Mj, Ghia Nodia, Natalia Shapoavlova, Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Marisa Von Bülow, Özge Zihnioğlu
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the domain of civil society burgeoned in the 1990s and early 2000s—a crucial component of the global spread of democracy in the developing and postcommunist worlds—many transnational and domestic actors involved in building and supporting this expanding civil society assumed that the sector was naturally animated by organizations mobilizing for progressive causes. Some organizations focused on the needs of underrepresented groups, such as women’s empowerment, inclusion of minorities, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights; others addressed broader societal issues such as economic justice, social welfare, and antipoverty concerns. In many countries, the term “civil society” came to be associated with a relatively bounded set of organizations associated with a common agenda, one separate from or even actively opposed by conservative political forces. However, in the past ten years, this assumption and outlook are proving increasingly incorrect. In many countries in the developing and postcommunist worlds, as well as in long-established Western democracies, conservative forms of civic activism have been multiplying and gaining traction. In some cases, new conservative civic movements and groups are closely associated with illiberal political actors and appear to be an integral part of the well-chronicled global pushback against Western liberal democratic norms. In other cases, the political alliances and implications of conservative civil society are less clear. In almost all cases—other than perhaps that of the United States, where the rise of conservative activism has been the subject of considerable study—this rising world of conservative civil society has been little studied and often overlooked. This report seeks to correct this oversight and to probe more deeply into the rise of conservative civil society around the world. It does so under the rubric of Carnegie’s Civic Research Network project, an initiative that aims to explore new types of civic activism and examine the extent to which these activists and associations are redrawing the contours of global civil society. The emerging role and prominence of conservative activism is one such change to civil society that merits comparative examination. Taken as a whole, the report asks what conservative civic activism portends for global civil society. Its aim is not primarily to pass judgment on whether conservative civil society is a good or bad thing—although the contributing authors obviously have criticisms to make. Rather, it seeks mainly to understand more fully what this trend entails. Much has been written and said about anticapitalist, human rights, and global justice civil society campaigns and protests. Similar analytical depth is required in the study of conservative civil society. The report redresses the lack of analytical attention paid to the current rise of conservative civil society by offering examples of such movements and the issues that drive them. The authors examine the common traits that conservative groups share and the issues that divide them. They look at the kind of members that these groups attract and the tactics and tools they employ. And they ask how effective the emerging conservative civil society has been in reshaping the political agenda.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Politics, Political Activism, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Europe, South Asia, Turkey, Ukraine, Caucasus, Middle East, India, Poland, Brazil, South America, Georgia, North America, Thailand, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Karim Makdisi
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Refugee movements are not a new phenomenon in the Middle East and North Africa. The history of the region has been shaped by waves of displacement and refugee crises, and the most recent, the dramatic case of Syria, is still in process. This paper investigates refugee movements in the region and their impact on regional dynamics by focusing on two important case studies: Lebanon and Turkey. It explores each country’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis in detail, while addressing the role of relevant stakeholders, such as international organizations, civil society and government, in humanitarian relief efforts as well as in refugee protection and management.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Refugees, Syrian War, Mobility
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, European Union
  • Author: Martin van Bruinessen
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: In spite of their overwhelmingly Muslim populations, Indonesia and Turkey are formally secular states though of different kind. However, both allocate a surprisingly high proportion of the state budget to the administration of Islam, considerably higher than most countries where Islam is the state religion. In Turkey during the years 1950-2000 and in Indonesia during the New Order period (1966-1998), the state invested heavily in the education of “enlightened” religious personnel and the dissemination of religious views that were compatible with the drive for modernisation and development. Turkey’s Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) controls a huge bureaucracy through which the state interacts with the pious conservative part of the population. Schools for the training of prayer leaders addressed the needs of the same segment of the population and were intended to facilitate the integration of these conservatives into the project of secular modernisation. However, these institutions had the unforeseen effect of enabling the social mobility of once marginalised conservatives, allowing them to gradually gain control of part of the state apparatus. Mutatis mutandis, very similar developments can be observed in Indonesia, where the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) and the Council of Islamic Scholars (MUI) were expected to provide development-friendly religious guidance and prevent undesirable expressions of religiosity. After the fall of the Suharto regime, the MUI made itself independent of the government and instead became a vehicle through which various conservative religious groups strove to influence government policies, with various degrees of success.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Social Movement, Secularism, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document briefly outlines major trends in Israel’s regional foreign policies over the past six months. It is based on the Mitvim Institute’s monthly reports that cover ongoing developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process/conflict, Israel’s relations with the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the conduct of Israel’s Foreign Service.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, International Affairs, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, European Union
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: This report provides a summary of the "Environmental Politics in the Middle East" research initiative, which explores the geopolitics of natural resources in the Middle East in an attempt to expand the focus to include the region’s many natural resources other than natural gas, such as land, air, water, and food. Some of the issues under investigation include a focus on water scarcity, which is a global issue but one that is particularly acute in the Middle East; its impacts are examined through a case study on Yemen. Food security is studied in the case of Syria, which before the civil war began, in 2011, was one of the region’s notable food exporters. Aside from acute food shortages within Syria, the conflict has had ripple effects on the region and has led to rising food prices in neighboring states, such as Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Food
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen, Susan Cersosimo, Kamaran Palani
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: There are major security events, issues and trends within Iraq since 2003 and Syria since 2011, that have influenced and impacted Turkey-European Union (EU) relations. In this policy paper we deconstruct the causal mechanisms that act as the primary drivers impacting bilateral relations. We then compare and contrast Ankara’s and Brussels’ current security interests, priorities and perceptions toward security threats originating in this troubled neighbourhood. Finally, we classify opportunities as culminating in three possible discrete or combined security policy scenarios: conflict, cooperation and/or convergence and make recommendations to improve Turkey-EU relations. To address how Iraq’s and Syria’s security environment evolved to its current state and predict the subsequent outcomes and impacts on EU-Turkey relations, we look back and critically analyse Ankara’s and Brussels’ views on the following key events, issues and trends: security and political dynamics following the second term of al-Maliki, the withdrawal of the US forces in 2011, the 2011 Syrian revolution, the war against the Islamic state (IS), The Global Coalition against Daesh (GCD) backing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria, the rise of Kurdish nationalism and aspirations for statehood in Iraq and autonomy in Syria, the enhanced influence of Iran in Iraq and the growth of IS with subsequent mass displacement of person across both Iraq and Syria. Iraq is now largely free of IS reign, yet is still threatened by terrorism, mass population displacement and weak governance, among other ills. In parallel, now that the Syrian civil war enters its seventh bloody year, generating large numbers of casualties and millions of displaced persons, Brussels and Ankara are strongly incented to converge and/or cooperate on security policies which mitigate the escalating humanitarian crisis and ease the path to a durable peace agreement. However, finding durable solutions to address high value, high impact problems stemming from Iraq and Syria requires identifying and mitigating the causes vs symptoms of these countries’ instability and insecurity affecting Ankara’s and Brussels’ own security interests, priorities and threat perceptions. Central security priorities for the EU in post-IS Iraq include stabilization, the return of internally displaced people and refugees and eliminating violent jihadist organizations and ideologies. While Turkey shares these objectives in principle, Ankara’s security interests concentrate primarily on neutralizing the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and its affiliates’ presence and influence. Since 2014, Ankara and Brussels have mostly bifurcated on how they perceive security threats in Syria. Turkey-EU leaders continue to disagree on the Kurd’s role in the Syrian war and how Turkey should control its borders to cut flows of foreign fighters into Syria. As the IS invaded parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014, European states began providing PKK affiliated Kurdish groups in Syria with both intelligence and military support. Alternately, since the Kurdistan Region of Iraq held its referendum for independence on 25 September 2017, EU and Turkish leaders have mostly converged on how they perceive security threats in Iraq with both staunchly supporting the country’s territorial integrity, thus, both refused to recognize the referendum’s legitimacy. We consider the issue of terrorism as a highly relevant driver of EU and Turkish security policies, perceptions and priorities. Though we see both countries as highly concerned with this issue, they diverge on which organizations pose the greatest threat. Ankara places the PKK at the top of its terrorist list – both within its borders and across the region – while Brussels prioritizes neutralizing jihadi terrorist threats on its soil, thus, the probability of convergence and cooperation and positive impact on EU-Turkey relations is moderate for this issue. Moreover, the IS is not given the same degree of priority by the two sides in the neighbourhood, including Iraq and Syria. Unlike the EU, Turkey considers the threat posed by the IS equal to the one posed by the PKK, but not as strategic. Here, the two sides diverge. In sum, dissent between Brussels and Ankara is highly likely given the Turkish Armed Forces’ broad kinetic engagement in both Iraq and Syria which negatively impacts EU and US efforts to roll back terrorism, stabilise the region, deliver humanitarian aid and help displaced persons return to their homes. Thus, regardless of whether Baghdad and/or Damascus formally grant Ankara permission to launch assaults, the EU views these actions as bellicose destabilizers competing with its own interests, thus, degrades EU-Turkey relations. Ultimately, this study calls for the EU and Turkey to prioritize mending cracks and fissures in their relationship and focus on the gains to be made through rapprochement on security issues originating in Iraq and Syria. Likewise, the EU can use its tremendous mediating capacity as an honest broker to settle entrenched disputes between warring parties in Iraq and Syria and for Turkey restart the peace process at home. More than ever, both must develop a long-term strategic security framework to ensure that bilateral security interests, priorities and interventions do not derail current stabilisation and reconstruction procedures in Iraq and/or progress toward a durable peace in Syria.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Author: Nilsu Gören
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: Turkey and NATO are experiencing a mutual crisis of confidence. Turkish policy makers lack confidence in NATO guarantees and fear abandonment—both prominent historical concerns. At the same time, policy makers within the alliance have begun to question Turkey’s intentions and future strategic orientation, and how well they align with NATO’s. One important factor contributing to this mistrust is Turkey’s recent dealings with Russia. Turkey is trying to contain Russian military expansion in the Black Sea and Syria by calling for a stronger NATO presence at the same time that is seeking to diversify its security strategy by improving ties with Russia and reducing its dependence on the United States and NATO. Turkey’s contradictory stance is no more apparent than in its evolving policy regarding the Syrian civil war. The threat topography of NATO’s southern flank reflects a complex web of state and non-state actors involved in asymmetric warfare. The Turkish shoot down of a Russian jet in 2015 highlighted the complexity and helped to precipitate military dialogue between NATO and Russia in Syria. Since then, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan seem to have overcome their strategic differences in their preferred outcome for Syria and have de-escalated the tensions following several rounds of peace talks headed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran and involving some, but not all, factions involved in the Syrian conflict. Yet several important questions about Turkish security policy and its impact on Turkish-U.S./NATO relations remain. What are the security implications of Turkey’s military actions on the southern flank? How is the continued fight against extremism in the region, including ISIS, likely to affect relations? And how should the West respond to Turkey’s security ties with Russia, including the Russian sale of advance military equipment to Ankara? The answers to all of these questions depend in part on whether Turkey’s behavior with Russia in Syria is a tactical move or a strategic shift away from NATO. Understanding these dynamics is key to devising policies and actions to minimize security risks between the U.S., NATO, and Russia. This paper argues that Turkey has economic and political interests in developing closer relations with Russia, but that these interests are not as strong as Turkey’s strategic alliance with the West, and NATO in particular. Turkish policymakers, who lack confidence in NATO, are pursuing short-term security interests in Syria as a way to leverage Western acquiescence to their interests regarding the Kurdish populations in Syria and Iraq. These objectives, however, are not aligned with Russia’s security objectives and do not add up to a sustainable long-term regional security strategy. In the short term, Turkey’s contradictory approaches to relations with NATO and Russia are likely to lead to ambiguity and confusion in the regional security architecture, with Syria being the most visible example of this disarray. To combat this approach, U.S. leadership and NATO should work to convince Turkey that the alliance takes Turkish security concerns in Syria seriously and to minimize the risks of Turkey’s acts as a spoiler in the region. For instance, addressing Turkish concerns over Washington’s arming of the Kurdish rebel group, the YPG, in northern Syria, will go a long way to resolving the key issue motivating Turkey’s decision to partner with Russia.
  • Topic: NATO, National Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Turkey, Syria
  • Author: David Koranyi
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: There has been much controversy around Nord Stream 2, a planned extension of the undersea gas pipeline stretching from Russia to Germany. By lying down two extra pipes in addition to the two already in operation since 2011-2012, the second phase would see the doubling of the capacity of the route, from 55 to 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) and commence operations in 2019 at a cost of 9.5 billion euros. This would mean that over 70% of Russian gas exports could be channeled through a single pipeline through Germany. Nord Stream 2, coupled with constructing the �irst two lines of Turkish Stream (with a capacity of 31.5 bcm) would also allow for the complete circumvention of the Ukrainian transit route.
  • Topic: European Union, Gas, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Germany
  • Author: Genci Mucaj
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: A few years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine the regional transformation underway in the Middle East. From the Arab Spring to the rise of ISIS, to a catastrophic Syrian war, we see a Middle East in turmoil and crisis. While the region’s geopolitical map varies, the root causes of conflict remain the same. What Is Pan Arabism, Sunni Islam and Shi’ism? In the early 1960s, Pan Arabism led by President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt attempted to unite Egypt and Syria as well as other Arab countries in one Pan Arab Union where member nations would be linked by a common language and culture despite differences in their respec­tive religious beliefs. The failure of this noble effort, I believe, resulted in the beginning of radical Islam. Arabism’s secular ideology that aimed to bring together people of all faiths in a modern Arabic society faced strong opposition from traditional Islam. The Islamic con­servative backlash was especially acute in tribal societies and led to the creation of a movement which became known as political Islam. In subsequent years, Arab countries suffered deep socio-economic and political crises. Rapid population growth[1] and a rural exodus in favor of large cities overwhelmed housing, employment and other resources, leading to social dislocation, instability and political radicalization. The radicalization of Sunni Muslims became a defensive tool against other religions and sectarianism. Individual Sunni scholars put their emphasis on incorporating Sharia law in all forms of government whereby their Holy Book would be the sole political manifesto. This action created constant institutional ambiguity as there was no recognized clerical religious authority to decide on specific matters of governance. This vacuum allowed many Sunni organizations, militants, self-proclaimed caliphs and radicalized groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Al Nusra and other lesser known groups to impose their own view of Sharia. While the Sunnis do not have one supreme authority figure who sets the moral tone, the Shi’ites do. In the Shi’ite denomination, there is one supreme religious leader who unites all Shi’ites together, with Iran as its foremost state and Khomeini as the supreme, undisputed leader. Iran Iran’s sphere of influence in the Shi’ite world extends from the Strait of Hormuz with Houthis in Yemen, to Lebanon with Hezbollah, to Iraq and Syria. Shi’ite radicals put their emphasis on the character of the ruler who oversees the implementation of Sharia law. Foreign fighters who support Bashar al-Assad in Syria are sponsored by Iran, come in large numbers from Afghanistan and include other Shi’ites from countries that were once part of the former Soviet Union. Syria is extremely important to Iran. It links Tehran with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and it closes the circle of influence in the region, making Iran a regional superpower. Besides the manpower Iran supplies for the war in Syria, it is estimated that Iran has spent nearly $1 billion in cash to prop up the Assad regime. Lifting the embargo and applying the 5+1 format conditions in the Iran Nuclear Agreement will make Iran economically viable once again. The Agreement is seen as a victory for Iran and its domestic policy, but it will have absolutely no effect in changing Iran’s policy in the region. Under no circumstances would Iran allow Assad to lose Syria, and that’s where old partners as well as adversaries have found common ground. Last August, Russian aircraft conducted raids in Syria after launching from Iran’s Hamedan military base, sending an important message to the West about this new/old alliance. Turkey, the Refugee Crisis and the European Union Iran’s new role in global geopolitics has implications for another key player in the region—Turkey. Turkey’s foreign policy and its international influence has waned as Ankara is faced with growing domestic violence. The ongoing terrorist threats in Turkey are not only from the Kurdish separatist movement and its Syrian PDY arm but are also from a faction of a radical group that deserted the Assad Army known as the Syrian Liberation Army (SLA). The SLA was originally supported by Turkey, a few European Union (EU) member nations and the Gulf States with the aim of getting rid of Assad. In part because of these domestic concerns, Turkey failed to recognize Russian and Iranian power-sharing ambitions in the region. The influence of Iran in the Shi’ite world and Russia’s interests in the region cannot be underestimated. New geopolitical alliances and the refugee crisis in Europe have created a serious dilemma. The European Union’s underlying principles have been called into question. Dealing with the influx of refugees fleeing war-torn areas goes beyond borders. The lack of a unifying foreign and defense policy will remain an EU challenge for the foreseeable future. Moreover, Turkey and Greece and other countries whose Mediterranean shores have accepted waves of refugees cannot face these challenges alone. Viewing the refugee crises as a regional issue is a mistake. This crisis is certainly a global concern. The European Union is now desperately trying to convince Turkey to shoulder more of the burden even though Turkey has been housing over 2.5 million refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. Europe and the whole world were transfixed last year, watching hundreds of thousands of desperate people crossing mountains, rivers and iron fences that were built across Europe. Most of these refugees ended up living in tents provided by the Turkish government. Turkish concerns about the plight of the refugees, however, fell upon deaf ears. This early warning of a pending humanitarian crisis was something that EU leaders failed to understand. By closing its borders, the European Union will not resolve the refugee crisis. It may, in fact, lead to bigger problems. Conflicts must be tackled at their origin. The European Union must find a way to balance its economic and security concerns with its inherent humanitarian obligation to help alleviate the suffering of immigrants who have walked thousands of miles in order to reach southeast Europe. Turkey and the European Union have serious issues when it comes to Turkey’s demand for nine billion euros to keep the refugees inside its borders. It certainly would cost the European Union less to have Turkey become a full EU member rather than continuing to deal with mounting pressure from the influx of refugees from the Middle East and beyond. Security is a global issue and cannot be handled in isolation. Europe is stronger, safer and bigger with Turkey and the Balkans inside its structures rather than outside. There is no better solution for these turbulent times than a strong and unified European Union. While the United States is trying to take a leadership role to find a solution, there are numerous bumps in the road. The Iran deal is viewed by some as a good step to satisfy and control Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it is not enough. Europe is still trying to come to grips with Britain’s departure from the European Union. Russia’s attempts to increase its sphere of influence, on the other hand, makes the landscape even more complicated unless each individual player in the West maintains its geo­political influence in the region. The U.S. role in the crisis is vital, particularly in convincing the EU partners to stick together.
  • Topic: Nuclear Power, European Union, ISIS, Sunni, Shia
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Selin Nasi
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Turkey Israel deal: A key to long term reconciliation ?
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel
  • Author: Kevin Appleby
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: From February 23, 2017 to March 6, 2017, His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, California; His Excellency Silvano Tomasi, c.s., delegate secretary for the Holy See’s Dicastery on Integral Human Development; and Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy for the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) and the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN), joined in a mission to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Greece to examine the situation of refugees and the displaced in these states. The visit came against the backdrop of several actions and events which could adversely impact these populations in the immediate, near, and long-term future: (1) the proposed reduction in the number of refugees to be admitted by the United States from 110,000 to 50,000 a year, including a 120-day shutdown of the US refugee program; (2) the one-year-old agreement between the European Union and Turkey to halt Syrian and other refugee groups from migrating to and entering Europe; (3) the ongoing war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), most notably in the fight for the city of Mosul and surrounding villages in northern Iraq; and (4) the ongoing persecution of religious minorities in the region, including Christian groups. Overall, the delegation found that, despite heroic work by international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and agencies in the region, including refugee protection organizations, the humanitarian need of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) far outweigh the support given to them by the international community. In fact, the world community appears to be withdrawing its support, rather than increasing it.1 The following findings and recommendations from the mission are based on the delegation’s conversations with actors in the region, including refugees and displaced persons, care providers, representatives of the Catholic Church, their aid agencies, and United Nations (UN) officials.
  • Topic: Migration, Religion, Refugee Issues, European Union, ISIS, Displacement, NGOs, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Europe, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: There is no doubt that the Turkish referendum of 16 April 2017 marks a sea change for Turkey’s political system. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have narrowly won the referendum that turns his de facto hegemonic presidency into de jure. 51.28% of Turkish citizens approved the 18 proposed constitutional amendments, while 48.72% opposed them. However, the provisions of the constitutional amendments and the statements made by the main political protagonists and antagonists give little hope that the referendum result will bring political stability or economic prosperity; or allow Turkey’s leadership to play a constructive role in Syria and Iraq - at least in the short-term. Furthermore, it is unlikely to enhance the level of cooperation with the EU and the US over the war against the Islamic State (IS) and the refugee crisis.
  • Topic: Elections, European Union, Democracy, Geopolitics, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Nilsu Gören
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense debate from a Turkish perspective. While Turkey participates in the EPAA by hosting a U.S. early-warning radar in Kurecik, Malatya, its political and military concerns with NATO guarantees have led to the AKP government's quest for a national long-range air and missile defense system. However, Turkish decision makers' insistence on technology transfer shows that the Turkish debate is not adequately informed by the lessons learned from the EPAA, particularly the technical and financial challenges of missile defense.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: After the re-run of the parliamentary election on 1 November 2015, it is certain that Turkey will again be ruled by the Justice and Development Party’s (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) one-party government. Based on this premise, this study provides a future-oriented analysis in the form of three scenarios: 1) an authoritarian Islamist state; 2) a consolidated liberal democracy; and 3) the dissolution of the Turkish state. The study also identifies three major drivers: a) the AKP and the Islamic-conservative state project; b) regional instability; and c) the Kurdish question. Regarding scenario one, there are factors and processes present that decidedly increase the possibility of an authoritarian Islamist state in Turkey. On the other hand, the republican tradition of parliamentary democracy has at the same time proved to be remarkably resilient, suggesting that the course of events depicted in the positive scenario two still have a significant chance in the long run. Scenario three, the dissolution of the Turkish state, would create enormous instability in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood and exponentially increase unpredictable tendencies and conflicts. The internal and external forces that could produce such a dramatic outcome are still rather weak, but they do exist in an embryonic form. Thus, the republican modernization project attaching Turkey to the Western legacy of secular humanism should not be underestimated and may well prevail in the end. For the time being, however, it seems to be on the losing side as the political process is consolidating the Islamic-conservative version of Turkish nationalism. At the present moment this current is pointing to a concentration of power and a non-pluralist authoritarian regime whereby national identity is increasingly constructed in a form that conceptualizes political liberalism as an existential threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: M. Murat Erdoğan
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
  • Abstract: This second paper of the DCAF-STRATIM paper series by M. Murat Erdogan analyses the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey, and the resulting challenges for both the refugees themselves and for Turkish society. The author argues that although the Turkish government does not officially acknowledge Syrians as refugees, Turkey has maintained an open door policy and provides them with considerable opportunities, rights and services€. The author calls on Turkey to review its approach towards Syrian refugees as the current approach is based on the wrong assumption of it being a temporary phenomenon€. The author expects a high probability that significant numbers of Syrians will permanently remain in Turkey. Since the first wave of Syrian refugees reached Turkey on 28 April 2011, the flow has not halted. With the Syrian civil war in its sixth year, expectations for a peaceful Syria in the short- and medium-term have faded considerably. The author calls for smart strategies, in line with human rights, and supported by Turkish society, for integration and co-existence based on efficient registration, better coordination between relevant agencies, a focus on education and the provision of working permits.
  • Topic: Demographics, Human Rights, Refugee Issues, Refugee Crisis, Syrian War, State
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Suat Kiniklioglu
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
  • Abstract: This first paper in the DCAF-STRATIM paper series by Suat Kiniklioglu analyses the development of Turkey's policy towards Syria since the start of the Arab Uprisings. It illustrates the factors which contributed to the shift in Ankara's foreign policy focus towards Syria; from its role as the strongest advocate for regime change, to the sole focus on the prevention of a Kurdish consolidated geographical and political entity in Syria. The author describes how Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan and Ahmed Davutoǧlu saw the Arab Uprisings as a unique Turkish moment that could allow the country to regain its long-lost international grandeur. Ankara detected that the Muslim Brotherhood was on the rise in the region. In Tunisia, the Ennahda Movement; in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhvan); and in many other Middle Eastern countries - including Syria - Ikhvan-affiliated movements were on the march.€ The author concludes that, contrasting with the initial enthusi­asm about a "Turkish Moment" when the Arab Uprisings erupted, Ankara will have to settle, it seems, for a much more modest outcome than originally envisaged in 2011.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Arab Spring, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Hannes Androsch
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, Princeton University
  • Abstract: In many places it is forgotten that Europe, especially the EU, is a veritable success story, as this continent has never before experienced a period such as the past seven decades of democracy, peace and prosperity. Faced with the current challenges, especially the refugee crisis, there has been an increasing tendency among European governments to take unilateral action. This approach cannot be successful, however, as European governments attempt to implement policy prescriptions of the past to solve problems of the present. In fact, we need not less but more Europe—but also a reformed Europe: a European Union with one voice for external policy (common foreign, security and defense policy and asylum and migration policy) and the capacity to overcome its internal turmoil (common economic, budget, and tax policies, and a minimum of a transfer union). We also need a European Union that makes the benefits of globalization available to all people. The European Union is currently experiencing one of its worst crises in its history. Old fault lines that have run through the continent for centuries, once considered overcome, have become prominent once again; new challenges have arisen, especially in the wake of globalization, climate change and new technological developments (the Digital Revolution). The world has seemingly become ungovernable. The proclaimed 1989 “end of history” (Fukuyama) is certainly over, and history has a firm grip on Europe. This, at least since the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis in 2007/08, no longer deniable fact is reflected in the still unresolved crisis in Greece (“Grexit”), the associated Euro Crisis, the British referendum on exit from the EU (“Brexit”), and in the renaissance of geopolitics. The annexation of Crimea by Russia undertaken in violation of international law, the war in eastern Ukraine, as well as state disintegration in Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria have made it clear that, from the Caucasus to the Balkans and from Pakistan/Afghanistan via the Middle East to North Africa, extends a “Ring of Fire,”—a term used by former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew to describe the geopolitical challenges of Europe more than twenty years ago. These long concealed —or ignored—distortions are now breaking out again in the form of “wars of succession,” leaving behind territories plagued by unrest, civil wars, and failed states, and resulting in terrorism and refugee waves now reaching the center of Europe. The resulting “crisis mode,” within which the European Union has been operating for several years now, reached its climax with the result of the referendum conducted in June, determining Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit). Aside from the medium and long-term economic implications for the country, Brexit was an earthquake with unforeseeable consequences especially on the political level. Scotland is once again discussing its potential separation from the United Kingdom, the fragile peace funded by the EU in Northern Ireland is threatened by collapse, and in a considerable number of other EU countries—mainly France and the Netherlands—populist and nationalist parties are interpreting Brexit as a signal to seek their salvation in national initiatives.
  • Topic: Security, Global Recession, European Union, Refugee Crisis, Brexit, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, United Kingdom, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Author: Elif Özmenek Çarmikli, Mehmet Onur Kader
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: The pace at which Turkey will take these steps is up for debate. Turkey has become one of the international centers for migrant smuggling starting with the Arab Spring and deepening with the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. Although migrant smuggling existed in Turkey before 2011, with the Syrian Crisis, it evolved into an ad hoc and flexible structure that could keep up with sudden shifts promote serious competition. Combating migrant smuggling, which can integrate into local and social structures while also working within an international modus operandi, has become more and more difficult as it grows into an increasingly multidimensional struggle. Migrant Smuggling in Turkey: The “Other” Side of the Refugee Crisis focuses on these issues by taking into account the JAP’s sensibility towards the prevention of migrant smuggling. The primary prediction of the report is that there will be important changes regarding the way the migrant smuggling sector will work in Turkey following the JAP. Moreover, it can be said that two main changes are predicted to occur; one with regard to the migration routes and the second to the organization of the sector. Regarding the routes, the report forsees that the Black Sea Route will be more popular and major changes will occur in the Mediterranean Sea Route. Because the JAP will see the return of migrants from Greece to Turkey, migrant smugglers will most likely produce a new strategy based on alternative routes. Migrant smugglers are expected to use Italy route not only from Turkey, but also from Albania, Montenegro, and Greece. A second trend that may come to greater prominence could be seen in changes in the way migrant smuggling networks organize across borders. It is highly likely that major networks which conduct business at the international level will become stronger in Turkey and beyond.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Refugee Issues, Arab Countries, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Syria
  • Author: Fatma Yilmaz-Elmas, Mustafa Kutlay, Hamdi Furat Buyuk, Öznur Gümüs
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: What is the current course of the refugee crisis? What has the EU done so far as a response to the crisis? Is it possible to mention a balanced and comprehensive policy response in compliance with international norms and responsibilities? Are the EU-Turkey migration cooperation policies on the right track? This policy brief answers these and further questions in depth. It handles main results and policy outputs both for the EU and Turkey. We argue that the current mode of cooperation is highly fragile and is likely to fail in case substantial revisions are not taken into consideration. It reveals consideration the sensitive nature of the situation and highlights the parties need to adopt a joint response that takes on the priorities and capacities of both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Refugee Issues, European Union
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Ross Wilson
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Ambassadors Review
  • Abstract: Turkey has recently come to look like a beat-up boy. At home, it seems to have regained the authoritarianism of its past. Abroad, its behavior looks rough edged and militaristic. It gets blamed for not doing enough, or the right things, on Syria, the problem of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Europe’s migrant crisis. Some have concluded that this country, its regional policies in tatters and under the assault of an autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, can no longer be regarded as an ally.
  • Topic: Migration, Military Affairs, Authoritarianism, Refugee Crisis, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Syria
  • Author: Asli Aydıntaşbaş
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: According to the Turkish government, the Gülenist movement is at the heart of the failed coup attempt of 15 July. Fethullah Gülen, the movement's leader is a former ally of the Turkish president and one of the country's most powerful and influential forces. With the help of the Turkish government, the Gülen movement successfully created a deep state within the Turkish bureaucracy and persecuted political enemies in show trials in 2008-2013. The movement is opaque and secretive in the state bureaucracy. There is enough evidence linking followers of Gülen to the coup but evidence pointing to Fethullah Gülen himself remains scant. Turkey’s extradition request for Fethullah Gülen will continue to create turbulence in Turkey’s relationship with Washington. For the US, this is a legal matter; for Ankara, a prerequisite for partnership. The Turkish government has embarked on a massive purge to "clean the state", involving tens of thousands of state employees, banks, and companies. In its quest to protect Turkish democracy by purging Gülenists, the Turkish government needs to make sure it does not destroy the frail democracy it is trying to save.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Clay Ramsay, Ebrahim Mohseni
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: Summary of Findings 1. Views of the Rouhani Administration President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif enjoy high levels of popular support in Iran. Nearly 8 in 10 Iranians say they have a favorable opinion of Rouhani and Zarif. Yet the intensity of their popularity has substantially eroded since August 2015. With Iran’s parliamentary elections only about a month away, 6 in 10 Iranians continue to want Rouhani supporters to win, while a growing minority favors his critics. Though Rouhani receives high marks for improving Iran’s security and deepening Iran’s relations with European countries, views of the economy are mixed. An increasing majority of Iranians think that Rouhani has not been successful in reducing unemployment. Iranians are also substantially less optimistic about Iran’s economy, with less than half now thinking that the economy is getting better. 2. Iran’s February 2016 Parliamentary Elections Four in ten Iranians voice confidence that the upcoming Majlis (Iran’s Parliament) elections will be very fair, and another four in ten assume it will be somewhat free and fair. Two thirds are highly confident they will vote in the upcoming elections for the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts. The most important issues Iranians want the new Majlis to tackle are unemployment and Iran’s low performing economy. 3. Civil Liberties in Iran Two in three Iranians believe that it is important for President Rouhani to seek to increase civil liberties in Iran. However, only a small minority complains that Iranians have too little freedom. While only about a third thinks that civil liberties in Iran have increased during Rouhani’s presidency, a plurality expects that civil liberties will increase at least somewhat over the next two years. 4. Approval for Nuclear Deal Seven in ten Iranians approve of the nuclear deal, though enthusiasm has waned somewhat. The deal garners support from majorities of those who favor Rouhani’s critics in the Majlis election, as well as those who favor his supporters. Two thirds still think the Iranian leadership negotiated a good deal for Iran, though the number of those disagreeing has risen to one in five. The number who believes it was a win for Iran has also declined, while the number who believes it was a victory for both sides has risen and is now a majority. 5. Perceptions of the Nuclear Deal Substantial numbers of Iranians now have a more accurate picture of the deal than they did in August 2015. About half (up from a third) now realizes that Iran has accepted limits on its nuclear research. Almost half (up from a quarter) now knows that many US sanctions are not covered by the agreement and will continue. However, growing majorities continue to believe incorrectly that Iranian military sites cannot be inspected under any conditions. A majority also believes that the US has agreed to not impose new sanctions to replace the ones that were removed as part of the nuclear deal. 6. Expectations of Economic Benefits Three in five Iranians expect that the nuclear deal will eventually result in improvements in their own economic well-being. This sentiment is shared by a majority of those who support Rouhani’s critics in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Majorities expect to see, within a year, better access to medical products from abroad, more foreign investment, and significant improvements in unemployment and the overall economy, though these majorities have declined from August 2015. 7. The Nuclear Deal’s Effect on Iran’s Foreign Relations A large majority of Iranians thinks that Iran’s relations with European countries have already improved as a result of the nuclear deal, but only one in three thinks Iran’s relations with the United States have improved. 8. Views of US Cooperation in the Nuclear Deal Six in ten Iranians are not confident that the US will live up to its obligations under the nuclear agreement and do not think the US will accept other countries cooperating with Iran’s civilian nuclear sector, as provided for under the deal. Half assume the US will use pressure and sanctions to extract more concessions from Iran—up from only a quarter in August 2015. 9. Views of the Nuclear Program Just as in past years, four in five Iranians see the development of an Iranian nuclear program as very important, and three in four see this program as being for purely peaceful purposes. Four in five continue to favor the idea of a Middle East nuclear-free zone that would require all countries in the Middle East, including Israel, not to have nuclear weapons. 10. Iran’s Involvement in Syria and Fighting ISIS Large majorities of Iranians approve of Iran being involved in Syria and strongly support countering ISIS, preserving Iran’s influence in the region, and countering Saudi, American, and Israeli influence. Overwhelming majorities approve of Iran fighting ISIS directly. Large majorities also approve of Iran supporting Shiite and Kurdish groups fighting ISIS and providing support to Iranian allies in the region. Strengthening the Assad government gets more modest support and is seen as a secondary goal for Iran. Two in three Iranians approve of sending Iranian military personnel to help Assad fight against armed Syrian rebels, including ISIS. 11. Views of US Involvement in Syria A large majority of Iranians disapproves of US involvement in Syria. US involvement in Syria is widely perceived as being primarily motivated by a desire to topple the Assad government, to increase US influence and power in the region, to protect Israeli and Saudi interests, and to decrease Iran’s influence and power in the region. Views are divided about whether the United States is seeking to protect Syrian civilians, to end the conflict, to prevent the conflict from spreading, or to fight ISIS. A modest majority says US efforts against ISIS are not at all sincere. A bare majority supports direct cooperation with the United States to counter ISIS in Iraq. 12. Views of Other Nations Involved in Syria Large majorities of Iranians approve of the involvement in Syria of Russia and Hezbollah, and seven in ten express confidence that Russia’s efforts against ISIS are sincerely motivated. However, large majorities disapprove of the involvement in Syria of Turkey, France, and, especially, Saudi Arabia. Large majorities say that the Saudis’ efforts against ISIS are insincere; views of the sincerity of the efforts by Turkey and France are less negative. A large majority has a negative view of Saudi efforts to create a coalition against terrorism, primarily because Saudi Arabia is seen as a supporter of ISIS. 13. International Collaboration on Syria and ISIS Despite their suspicions of other countries operating in the region, eight in ten Iranians approve of Iran participating in the international talks on the conflict in Syria. Of those who know about the Vienna agreement, seven in ten approve of it. 14. Views of Other Countries Iranians view their country’s allies, notably Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Hezbollah, favorably, and view Saudi Arabia and Turkey increasingly unfavorably. Views of Russia and China are generally favorable and have improved considerably over time. Western countries, with the exception of Germany, are viewed unfavorably, with Britain and the US viewed negatively by large majorities in Iran. In contrast, a majority has a favorable opinion of the American people.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Geopolitics, ISIS, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Britain, Russia, United States, China, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Nilsu Gören
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: Beyond its history of military coups and incomplete civilian oversight of its armed forces, Turkey has struggled with defining an independent international security policy. Its perception of U.S./NATO security guarantees has historically shaped its decision to either prioritize collective defense or seek solutions in indigenous or regional security arrangements. As part its domestic political transformation during the past decade, Turkey has decreased its reliance on NATO, leading to questions among observers about Turkey’s future strategic orientation away from the West. This brief argues that Turkey’s strategic objectives have indeed evolved in the recent past and that this is apparent in the mismatch between the country’s general security policy objectives and the outcomes of its policies on nuclear issues. At present, nuclear weapons do not serve a compelling function in Turkish policymakers’ thinking, beyond the country’s commitment to the status quo in NATO nuclear policy. Since nuclear deterrence is secondary to conventional deterrence, Turkey’s policies on nuclear issues are predominantly shaped by non-nuclear considerations. These decisions, in the absence of careful consideration of nuclear weapons, increase nuclear risks. This brief explores how Turkey could formulate more effective and lower risk nuclear policies than it currently does by employing cooperative security measures and how such a reorientation could strengthen to its overall security policy in the process.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Ahmet İçduygu
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Particularly in Europe, there is a common misconception that Turkey is primarily a country of emigration (or migrant-sending country) and a source country for asylum seekers. However, reality is that Turkey has morphed into a country of immigration, and more prominently a transit country, as a result of intense migratory movements over the last two decades. This paper analyses the evolution of Turkey’s migration policies and the way in which EU-Turkey relations have affected Turkey's migration laws and practices.
  • Topic: Globalization, Migration, Political Economy, Bilateral Relations, Immigration
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Turkey
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-55-2
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkish social science research has been steeped in interpretations according to which Turkey's 20th century political history is marked by an uneven struggle between an "omnipotent Kemalist state” and a rather powerless society. This argument has been very coherently used by the governing Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) in its articulation of the (Kemalist) Westernizer as the "domestic other”. This paper argues that Turkey's European Union membership negotiation process under the current AKP regime can only be adequately explained based on these premises. Turkey's EU accession negotiations started in October 2005, six years after the EU had confirmed the country's official candidate status. As of the beginning of 2015, only one of the 35 negotiation chapters has been completed. Thus, as the tenth anniversary of the kick-off of the accession negotiations is approaching, it is an appropriate time to ask some very basic questions concerning its nature. The present working paper tackles this issue by concentrating on the following questions: What is the nature of the AKP as a political movement, and how best to evaluate Turkey's EU bid under its rule? The paper first presents a Western view of Turkey that has been widely held during the last decade. This is followed by a short summary of the main factors that induced the EU to start official membership negotiations with Turkey. After this, the AKP's attempt to destroy what its leadership asserts is the old Kemalist regime and replace it with a "New Turkey” is evaluated. This evaluation leads to an outline of the main factors behind the AKP's EU accession negotiations. The paper argues that it is highly unlikely that the AKP can ever establish a workable liberal democracy in Turkey. A further observation directly following on from this is that the AKP regime will never be able to fulfil Turkey's EU aspirations. The dominant image of Turkey as a European country firmly in the Western camp no longer corresponds with reality. Internally, the current regime believes that Turkey's Westernization has been a degenerating process – a historical mistake – that has now been annihilated. As the internal state legitimation no longer requires anchoring Turkey to the West, but rather making the West a counter-image, a radical redefinition of Turkey's national interests and position in the world has come about.
  • Political Geography: Turkey