With the retreat of liberalism in the Western world and the US withdrawing on many global issues, the international system is undergoing serious changes. Turkey, also caught within the throes of international disorder, has been facing a variety of pressing challenges. In response, Ankara has undertaken the dual task of providing its own security and mobilizing the international community to resolve the problems in the international system. In Turkey’s new presidential system, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political and diplomatic skills play a key role in the formulation and implementation of Turkish foreign policy.
The repercussions of the Arab Spring and new polarization between Iran, Israel and the Gulf States means the Middle East faces multiple rivalries and conflicts. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the United States seem to have reached an agreement on certain issues in an attempt to redesign a fractured regional order. This vision is yet to be realized on the ground given the uncertainty around Washington’s global role. In assessing regional stakeholders and their potential capabilities as well as several scenes of regional conflict, the paper argues Turkey plays a traditional role in balancing tensions between Iran, the Gulf and Israel. While Turkey does not have a silver bullet, it provides ‘balancing’ support to the region, preserving neutral, middle ground.
This commentary analyzes the question of political transformation in Turkey, which has been a hotly debated issue for more than 40 years. Over the past decades, each proposal to reform the country’s system of government was met with resistance from critics and it was turned into a personal issue by targeting the plan’s supporters rather than the idea itself. After a brief analysis of the previous arguments, this study will focus specifically on the most recent efforts to adopt a presidential system, including the cooperation between the AK Party and MHP at the Parliament and the constitutional referendum, which will be held in 2017.
The AK Party seeks to respond to four challenges stemming from three confrontations (Islamism, Kemalism, and regional balance of power) that are intertwined and intensely interactive: The potential radicalization of Islamist movements through new sectarian polarization, the extension of the Kurdish Question regionally and internationally, the struggle for greater influence among regional powers, and the repercussions of Israel’s aggressive policies. The discourse of civilization that Prime Minister Erdogan frequently and recently employs reflects a quest to invent a new political language and an overarching shared identity regarding the future of both Turkey and the Middle East.