Dean Rohrer

Turkey’s Frontline Foreign Policy

Turkey claims to be pursuing a “zero conflict” policy that aims to minimize regional tensions and enhance stability. But, thanks to its alliance with Iran and support for Hamas, Turkey now finds itself rushing headlong into a series of conflicts – with Europe, the US, Israel, and moderate Arab regimes.

JERUSALEM – A few months before he became Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief adviser, met with a group of Middle Eastern academics and policy experts, including Arabs and Israelis. With his academic background and immense erudition, he succeeded in painting, on a wide canvass, the new directions of Turkey’s policies under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership.

By then, it had become clear that Turkey’s road to the European Union had been closed, somewhat rudely, owing mainly to combined German and French pressure. But those who expected Islamist fire and brimstone from Davutoglu were deeply disappointed.

What was articulated was a levelheaded and sophisticated exposé, seldom heard from policymakers: it was thoughtful, honest, and breath-taking. It was also a clear departure from the conventional foreign-policy straightjacket devised by Kemal Ataturk, which had for decades forced Turkish diplomacy into the Procrustean bed of 1920’s-style integral nationalism.

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