Turkey in the axis between the East and the West

Published 26.08.2016 23:34

After the end of the Cold War, the United States emerged as the world's sole superpower and announced a new world order that would not admit any restrictions or challenges whatsoever. In the unipolar order, former alliances from the bipolar world became obsolete and superfluous. Two main results emerged from such a drastic transformation of international relations: On the one hand, the United Nations has become the representative institution of the U.S.'s arbitrary and unlawful practices in the international arena. Thus, its effectiveness as an independent intergovernmental organization has come into question. On the other hand, the occupation of Iraq, which was launched after fictitious evidence of weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi army, left behind an ongoing chaos in the country along with the death of 1 million people, as well as traumatizing both Iraq and the U.S.

Meanwhile, many international relations scholars argue strongly that the significance of Turkey as a member of NATO has decreased in U.S. foreign policy. Growing in a steady flow and resolving its problems through advancing its commitment to democracy, Turkey has nonetheless succeeded in strengthening its central role in its region of influence.

A decade ago, Turkey served as a role model for the Islamic world by operating in a democratic system, strengthening its economy, and realizing significant reforms in the fields of human rights and freedom of thought and faith. Yet, the West misread the Arab Spring and failed to grasp its true spirit. The unprecedented endeavors to create a democratic regime in Egypt and Tunisia were marginalized by supporting former dictatorships without realizing the threat of terror that would emerge from such hypocrisy.

Indeed, the Syrian people's demand for living in a democratic country was itself abused by external states that follow their own political agendas in the region. Eventually, Syria has turned back to the starting point of the civil war after five years of bloodshed:

- Protecting the territorial integrity of Syria

- Establishing a democratic future through civilian politics

- Constituting a comprehensive state structure that involves various social groups.

As the Syrian civil war demonstrates, alliances are much more volatile in the new world order than they were in the Cold War period. In such a volatile, irresolute and ambiguous arena of international relations, the impetuous conduct of foreign affairs has become all the more dangerous for the country in question.

Necmettin Erbakan, the former Prime Minister, emphasized the significance of Turkey's membership in the European Union by brilliantly stating "as a prospective member of the EU, Turkey should strengthen its political, economic and cultural ties with the East."

Yet, some continue to detect a change of axis in Turkish foreign policy. Reading the world through the Cold War lens misleads Western forces in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. The West does not have unlimited power, while Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia are no longer minor states. Turkey has succeeded in operating its democratic system by relying on a growing economy.

The limited power of the member states of the EU has clearly been exposed in the Syrian civil war. Socially devastated by the waves of refugees, the EU could not have produced an effective policy in the face of the Syrian crisis. Thus, their attempt to discipline Turkey may only be explained by their former habits from the Cold War period.

During the crisis between Turkey and Russia, we did not feel safe simply because of our membership in NATO. When one considers Turkey's geopolitical position, its military power, its advantageous location in the regional flow of energy, and its vibrant civilian politics, it is clear that Turkey should not fasten itself to only one axis of international relations.

As a member of NATO, Turkey will enhance its economic and strategic relations with Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Turkey will continue to try to bring stability and peace in Iraq and Syria, and improve its relations with Egypt and various African countries. Turkey's ongoing attempt to remove DAESH from Jarablus proves its effectiveness in its region of influence and its multidimensional foreign policy.

Turkey's geopolitical position prevents it from sticking solely to one axis of foreign policy. Neither the world nor Turkey itself is the same as it was 40 years ago.

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