Türkiye’s foreign policy faced major challenges in the second half of the AK Party’s two decades in power. Despite being a NATO ally and European Union (EU) candidate country, Ankara experienced serious problems with its Western allies in the 2010s. Having spent the 2000s trying to persuade domestic institutions that it had a legitimate right to govern Türkiye by virtue of having won democratic elections, the AK Party was compelled to try and force Western governments to accept that Türkiye had the right to adopt and implement its foreign policy independently throughout the following decade. After all, the ‘internal guardianship’ regime was frustrated with the government’s democratization attempts to normalize civilian-military relations just as the ‘external guardianship’ regime opposed Türkiye’s attempts to shape its foreign policy independently and in line with its population’s expectations.
Upon coming to power, the AK Party government faced the negative consequences of the U.S.’ illegal invasion of Iraq. Throughout the 2000s, when Türkiye prioritized the expansion of its economic and military capacity, it sought to offset its disagreements with the U.S. over the Iraq War by working more closely with the European Union. However, the rise of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy (who publicly opposed Türkiye’s EU membership) to power in Germany and France took a toll on Ankara’s relations with Brussels, encouraging the Turkish government to seek closer cooperation with Middle Eastern nations in pursuit of a more diverse foreign policy. During this period, the country strengthened its ties with Iran, Iraq, and Syria yet experienced tensions with Israel over