This commentary provides an analysis of the Turkey’s relations with the U.S. and Russia in the context of the Syrian civil war. Owing much to the dynamics of the Syrian civil war and the American support to the PYD/YPG, Ankara has recently made considerable changes in its foreign policy and its relations with Washington and Moscow. As the U.S. government has failed to understand Turkey’s security concerns, Turkey, despite being a NATO member, now seems to be closer to Moscow than to Washington.
In the ever-increasing stream of academic studies of Turkey’s foreign policy, no aspect is better covered than Turkey’s relations with the European Union. In fact, this reviewer counted no less than twelve books on this subject published in the last five years, excluding this one! Furthermore, there are more books on Turkey- EU relations than all the other books on Turkish foreign policy all together. To justify another addition to an already long inventory, the author must believe he has something new to say, or at least is covering aspects not addressed by others. While Dr Usul’s book offers a useful summary of the literature on the role of external actors on democratisation in general, and the emerging policies of the EU in creating democratic conditionality for candidate states, his coverage of the Turkish experience adds little to the existing body of literature, and is out of date.
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.