On 28 March 2018, the DOC Research Institute Moscow office organizes a lecture by Pavel Shlykov, Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian and African Studies at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. The lecture will deal with the analysis of the current Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East region.
For most part of the twentieth century, Turkey adhered to the cautious concept of non-interference in Middle Eastern affairs. However, the 2010s witnessed the abandonment of this strategy: Syria, Iran, Iraq and other key countries of the region are increasingly included in the orbit of the priority areas of Ankara’s foreign policy.
The military operation of the Turkish army in northern Syria launched in January 2018 attracts everyone’s attention and is in fact a part of the strategy of building up the military and political presence in the region that, especially after the blockade of Qatar in June 2017, reached an unprecedented scale.
The military incursions into Iraq (2008, 2015) and Syria (2016, 2017, 2018), large-scale projects for the creation of military bases in the Persian Gulf and in Africa, and, finally, the overall militarization of Turkish policy all raise a number of questions about Ankara’s future as an influential player in the Middle East, as well as about the political prospects of R.T. Erdogan himself. In the beginning of the 2000’s Erdogan came to power using the slogans of creating a “New Turkey” – a democratic country with religious freedoms, fast-growing economy, political solution to the “Kurdish issue” and the inevitable EU membership. Now, difficult times have come for Turkey – a dangerous combination of deepening political polarization, slowing economic growth, escalating tensions both within the country and along the perimeter of its borders, and unprecedented level of tension in relations with the West. Where to is Erdogan leading the country? What is the price of the conflict between pragmatic interests and foreign policy prestige? How far do Ankara’s regional interests extend?
During the lecture, key aspects of Turkey’s Middle East policy will be analyzed in the context of a dynamically changing domestic political situation as well as possible scenarios of relations with the West and Russia.