Turkey's role in new balances of power in world politics

Published 09.08.2019 23:26
Updated 11.08.2019 00:00

After the end of the Cold War, a seemingly unipolar world order had emerged. While the United States assumed the global role of the sole hegemon, the world's one and only gendarmerie, the so-called new world order concluded with unjust and unlawful occurrences that were not seen during the Cold War.

Without bothering themselves to rely on any principle of legitimacy, the U.S. occupied Afghanistan and Iraq with impunity. Both of these countries were dragged into 20 years of political chaos that is still continuing. Although the U.S. still holds a concrete power of destruction in the international arena, they appear to have lost most of their constructive capability.

The new world order lasted as far as the emergence of the Arab Spring. The U.S. and their European allies had the upper hand until the eruption of the Syrian crisis. However, the hesitancy and indecisiveness of the Obama administration in the Syrian civil war strengthened Russia's hand.

Russians seized the opportunity to establish regional superiority over their rival U.S. Russia has rapidly become the predominant power not only in Syria, but also in the whole region from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, hence the end of the unipolar world order.

The Syrian crisis re-shaped both the international balance of power and the bilateral relations of the U.S. with not only Russia, but also Turkey. Aiming to democratize the Syrian political regime, the U.S. and Turkey were allies in the initial phase of the Syrian civil war.

Yet, the Obama administration was dreaming about re-integrating Iran into the world order, while neglecting Turkey's interests in the region. Then, two major arguments had rapidly become predominant in the foreign policy debates of the Western countries: If the Syrian regime collapses, al-Qaida would rule over Syria, and if Syria holds a democratic election, the Muslim Brotherhood would win just like in Egypt.

Meanwhile, the U.S. formed two new alliances in the Syrian civil war. On the one hand, Daesh emerged as the successor of al-Qaida. Indeed, in his presidential campaign, Donald Trump would accuse the Obama administration of secretly administering this ferocious and murderous terrorist organization.

Daesh never harmed American interests in Syria; on the contrary, they were used to tame France and Germany. The whole lands that were controlled by Daesh were eventually left to the control of the PKK, who have become the open allies of the U.S. in Syria.

After realizing that they were stabbed in their backs during the Syrian crisis, Turkey put an end to its alliance with the U.S. Immediately after Turkey adopted such an independent foreign policy attitude, three ferocious terrorist organizations had begun to realize successive terrorist attacks in Turkey, i.e. the PKK, Daesh, and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

Fortunately, Turkey succeeded in defeating all these terrorist organizations. In fact, Turkey was the first country which waged a direct war against Daesh in Syria and proved that it could be wiped out. The PKK was devastated first in Turkey and then in Afrin. Finally, after the failed coup of July 15, 2016, FETÖ was totally vanquished in Turkey.

In order to resolve the long-standing Syrian civil war, Turkey initiated the Astana peace process directly with Russia and Iran and indirectly with the Syrian regime.

Such a proactive foreign policy attitude broke the monopoly of the Western powers over the resolution of international crises. In this respect, Turkey actively contributed to the fall of the unipolar "new world order" of the post-Cold War era.

Turkey's deal with Russia in buying the S-400 missile defense system and Turkey's threat of military intervention in northern Syria to force the PKK/Democratic Union Party (PYD) to withdraw east of the Euphrates eventually led the U.S. to come closer to Turkey's position in the resolution of the Syrian deadlock. While Turkey's status as a regional power has been revitalized, we also achieved to not come face to face with the U.S., our NATO ally.

Turkey is situated in the very axis of the new balances of power in international relations. Being aware of Turkey's power and its limitations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emerges as a world leader who tests the limits of the multipolar new world order.

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