In March 2009, Turkey’s then foreign minister, Ali Babacan, told the Turkish TV audience that the installation of Barack Obama as America’s new president had opened a ‘new era’ in relations between the two countries.1 The president expressed the same hope one month later, on April 6, with an official visit to Turkey — his first to a Muslim country — which included a speech to the Grand National Assembly in Ankara. In this speech, he alluded to the serious tensions in the Turkish-American relationship caused by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and urged that the two countries must now come together.2 He drew particular attention to the Middle East as a region in which the United States needed to stake out new policies, re-awakening a longstanding debate as to whether Turkey should uncouple its regional policies from its relations with its most important ally.
Turkey and the Middle East in the ‘New Era’ [Full Text]
Barack Obama’s inauguration as America’s new president has been welcomed as opening a ‘new era’ in Turkey’s relations with the United States. May 2009 also saw the appointment of a new foreign minister in Ankara, in the person of Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu. This article examines how these new directions are playing out in the Middle East, one of the world’s most turbulent regions which also has crucial economic and strategic importance for Turkey. It focuses on Turkey’s relations with four regional states – Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Syria and Iran. The article closes by assessing whether Turkey has been able to achieve the government’s ambition of ‘zero problems’ with its neighbors, and the degree to which it has been able to develop a new role as conciliator and go-between in addressing the region’s bitter conflicts.
Already have an account? Sign In.