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Can the U.S. Government Accept an Independent Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East?

The end of the Cold War marked the end of adversary patterns of alignment in the Middle East, and the ebbing dichotomy between the U.S. and USSR led to vast uncertainty. In response, then-President Turgut Özal stated, as early as 1991, that Turkey should seek an active foreign policy. It was not, until the AK Party came to power a decade later, however, that Ankara began to seriously question Turkey’s acquiescence in Washington’s strategic unipolarity. Ahmet Davutoğlu’s appointment as Foreign Minister emphasized Turkey’s independence and activism, causing unease in Washington. Nevertheless, the U.S. has been generally flexible toward a more independent Turkish foreign policy, under the condition that it does not threaten vital U.S. interests.

Can the U S Government Accept an Independent Turkish Foreign
Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, DC. AA
 

After the Cold War

The end of the Cold War marked the end of adversary patterns of alignment in the Middle East. It had been easier to interpret the geopolitics of the region when it was clear whether a particular government could be reliably classified as an ally of either the United States or the Soviet Union, and most of its specific foreign policy initiatives could be deduced from this fact alone. This overarching framework lasted for almost half a century, and its disappearance in the early 1990s created an atmosphere of uncertainty. In the Middle East, two broad endeavors emerged to fill the void created by the absence of bipolarity: the first involved an emergent American unipolarity that exerted hegemonic control over the region as a whole, and reached a climax with the unified response to the 1990 Iraqi conquest and annexation of Kuwait.

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