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  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: It is not the caliphate that the world’s Muslim powerhouses are fighting about. Instead, they are engaged in a deepening religious soft power struggle for geopolitical influence and dominance. This battle for the soul of Islam pits rival Middle Eastern and Asian powers against one another: Turkey, seat of the Islamic world’s last true caliphate; Saudi Arabia, home to the faith’s holy cities; the United Arab Emirates, propagator of a militantly statist interpretation of Islam; Qatar with its less strict version of Wahhabism and penchant for political Islam; Indonesia, promoting a humanitarian, pluralistic notion of Islam that reaches out to other faiths as well as non-Muslim centre-right forces across the globe; Morocco which uses religion as a way to position itself as the face of moderate Islam; and Shia Iran with its derailed revolution. In the ultimate analysis, no clear winner may emerge. Yet, the course of the battle could determine the degree to which Islam will be defined by either one or more competing stripes of ultra-conservativism—statist forms of the faith that preach absolute obedience to political rulers and/or reduce religious establishments to pawns of the state.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Islam, Politics, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • 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: George N Tzogopoulos
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Greece, Israel, and five other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean have established the East Med Gas Forum. Turkey is not a member and is employing its own muscular approach in the region. The US would like the Forum to be more inclusive, specifically toward Ankara. Athens and Jerusalem could launch a diplomatic initiative to explore Turkey’s participation, as they have nothing to lose and much to gain from such an initiative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Gas, Trade
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Burak Akçapar
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Since the launch of the Mediation for Peace initiative by Turkey and Finland in 2010, there has been an upsurge of activity at the United Nations (UN) and several regional organizations to promote mediation as a conflict resolution method. The UN General Assembly, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have set out to develop mediation norms, procedures, and capacities. The assets and motivations of international actors, including foremost nation states, to provide mediation services as part of their foreign policy have been widely studied. However, the actual role played by specific leading nations in the promotion of mediation at international forums lacks a framework of analysis. This essay aims to fill this gap by employing the concept of “policy entrepreneurship” to explain the role of individual actors in transforming the politics, norms, and capacities that pertain to mediation. In this regard, the article discusses Turkey’s activities in the field of mediation and their transformative outcomes in a bid to test the proposed framework. It concludes that as the only country that co-chairs the friends of mediation groups simultaneously in the UN, the OSCE and the OIC, the distinguishing contribution of Turkey as a policy entrepreneur lies in its efforts to feed and shape the normative basis and capacities of international peace mediation efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Roie Yellinek
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: State-directed repression and harassment directed against Muslims in China has drawn broad international condemnation throughout the Western world. However, what has been the reaction from the Islamic world itself? Although reactions among major states have varied (as discussed below), the reaction throughout the Islamic world has largely been one of deafening silence—and when voices are raised, they have been faint.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Prisons/Penal Systems, State Violence, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Xinjiang
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The significance of the Eastern Mediterranean for Israel has increased in the last decade, an outcome of interlocking factors associated with the civil war in Syria, the deterioration of relations with Turkey, and discoveries of new gas fields. The effectiveness of Israeli policy, especially in energy issues, depends on strengthening relations with the states of the region, such as Egypt or Cyprus. Hence, regional cooperation will deepen, which may have a positive impact on Israel-EU relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • 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
  • Author: Brendon J. Cannon, Federico Donelli
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: In December 2017, at the end of a bilateral meeting, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Sudanese counterpart Umar al-Bashir announced a deal to restore Suakin, a ruined Ottoman port town on Sudan’s Red Sea coast. The agreement also gave Turkey the right to build a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels. More than one year later there are doubts as to how much work Turkey will do beyond restoring the Ottoman town. However, certain regional states are uncomfortable with the apparent consolidation of a permanent Turkish presence in the region, thereby feeding a process of perceived securitization in and around the Red Sea. A few months later, in April 2018, the flag of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to flutter on the small island of Socotra. The position of this isolated Arabian Sea island makes it a strategic outpost for the conduct of ongoing UAE military operations in Yemen as well as control of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the entrance, from the south, to the Red Sea. The two seemingly unrelated events are yet more evidence, for some, of a complicated game of chess between rival ideological and political blocs in the Middle East that now stretches into Africa. The Middle East region has been the scene, for decades, of political balancing acts amidst continuous power and influence scrambles due to its structural characteristics – a highly dynamic and amorphous regional system in which power relations are fluid and order is in short supply – and the lack of a clear regional hegemon. As noted by professor Fawaz Gerges, following the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, a “psychological and epistemological rupture” has occurred in the Middle East.[1] Although mostly limited to the domestic dimension of the states, these dynamics appear to have taken on an extra-regional dimension that increasingly feeds perceptions and narratives of shifting distributions of power. A wide range of academic and think tank literature has emphasized these changes in light of an emerging identity Cold War pitting conservative Sunni monarchies against a revolutionary Shi’a Iran. Recent security interactions across the Red Sea seem to form part of this intertwined rebalancing dynamic across the wider Middle East regional security complex (MERSC).
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Power Politics, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Middle East, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Ibrahim Ayberk, Sait Akşit, Ali Dayioğlu
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: This study presents the importance of patron states for de facto states within the context of Turkey-Northern Cyprus relations intending to highlight how and in what ways the Turkish Cypriot civil society is influenced by this relationship. It analyses the societal dissent in Northern Cyprus through a detailed study of the leading role played by trade unions given the conjectural developments since the early 2000s and argues that this differentiates Northern Cyprus from other de facto states. With the case analysis of Northern Cyprus, this study aims to contribute to the gap on the study of de facto states’ domestic affairs and the influence of patron states on the societal structures of these entities.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, State, Emerging States, Unions
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Birol Baskan
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: This paper discusses how Turkey’s bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar have changed after the Arab Spring erupted and assesses how the Syrian conflict affected them. The paper argues that Turkey had developed excellent relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the 2000s, but eventually fell out with Saudi Arabia and strengthened its relations with Qatar as the Arab Spring unfolded. The Syrian conflict, in which the three countries colluded to overthrow the Assad regime, has alleviated the deleterious impact of the differences between Saudi Arabia and Turkey on the bilateral relations or, to put it in another way, slowed down the deterioration of Turkey-Saudi Arabia relations. The paper also argues that the geopolitical landscape that pushed Turkey and Saudi Arabia apart also pushed Turkey and Qatar closer.
  • Topic: International Relations, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar