Hard Turkey

Turkey could be a bridge between the West and the East, between Islam and modernity, and between Israel and the Arabs. But it runs the danger of succumbing to the arrogance of power, which has corrupted and sidelined many strong states in the past.

JERUSALEM – The recent surge in Turkey’s military actions against the Kurds in northern Iraq is an indication that, somewhat surprisingly – but not entirely unpredictably – Turkish foreign policy has undergone a 180-degree turn in less than two years. The Turkish offensive is also an indication that these changes go beyond the current tensions between Turkey and Israel, which are just one facet of much deeper trends.

Just a couple of years ago, after the European Union slammed the door in Turkey’s face (despite some significant military and penal reforms by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government), Turkey re-oriented its policy away from Europe towards its immediate region. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s “zero conflicts with neighbors” approach gave this re-orientation its strategic and theoretical foundation.

Opening an impressive new page, Turkey reached out to Armenia; softened its position on Cyprus; tried to draw Iran into a positive dialogue with the West; convinced Syria to settle the two countries’ simmering border dispute; and, as a crowning achievement, launched peace talks between Syria and Israel under Turkish mediation.

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