SEMİH İDİZ > Concerns about foreign policy mounting

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As the turmoil in Syria continues, concerns about Ankara’s foreign policy orientation are growing in Turkey. The noteworthy development is that these concerns are also being voiced increasingly by Islamist commentators.

This is significant because the government can brush off criticism from “secularists” as being ideologically motivated. This is harder to do when there is a convergence of views among “secularists” and “Islamists.”

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is known to be irked at his secularist critics. His anger, tinged with a sense of “betrayal,” is said to be also mounting towards critics in his own political camp who are lambasting him now for his overambitious policies.

Two cases in point are Hüseyin Gülerce of Zaman, and Akif Emre of Yeni Şafak, who are prominent writers in these dailies which are firmly on the “Islamist” side of the fence.

But rather than getting angry, Davutoğlu should instead take note of the criticism from what he considers “friendly quarters,” since the accusation of “ideological motivation” is hardly valid for what is emanating from that direction.

Hüseyin Gülerce, had the following to say in a piece on August 1, entitled “A New Foreign Policy for a New Turkey”:

“The right foreign policy looks to internal unity. A Turkey that can not secure this can not have the right foreign policy. If we are to speak in concrete terms, a Turkey that has not solved its Kurdish problem, has not solved its Alevi problem, has not minimised polarisations in society, and can not reduce the tensions fed by political wrangling is condemned to be deprived of the right foreign policy.”

Going on to declare that “just as there is the 50 percent that voted for the AKP, there is also the 50 percent that did not vote for it” Gülerce says the following:

“You can not lean foreign policy on religious and ethnic divisions. You can not allow divisions such as `Islam and Christianity` or `the Islamic world and the Christian world. ` History is rife with bloody pages due to ethnic, religious and sectarian antagonisms.”

This is a truly noteworthy remark coming at a time when the government is accused of pursuing policies towards the Middle East that openly favor the Sunnis, as seen openly in the Syria conflict, and thus contributing to deepening sectarian divisions in the region.

Akif Emre, for his part, refers to “The limits of Turkey’s power” in a piece published on July 26. He says that if realism is cast aside when making claims to the effect that Turkey is the sole “game setter” and “regional power,” without whose consent “a leaf can not move,” then “the final cost for the country could be high.”

Referring to the “impasse” Ankara has arrived at in Syria policy, Emre goes on to declare the following:

“Contrary to what was said at the beginning, the risk of Syria splitting up along ethnic and sectarian lines is not the result of the interference by foreign powers. The borders drawn by the world system of the post Ottoman era are changing and, contrary to what is thought, Turkey is not drawing the new borders. Apart from this, any new arrangements that Turkey has a hand in will not necessarily mean that these will be more just or more realistic.”

These are hard hitting words that stand diametrically opposed to the image that Foreign Minister Davutoğlu continues to plug hard for Turkey. There was a time when commentators in his camp of the political spectrum would go along with him. But the times are clearly changing as Turkey faces threats it never thought it would a mere two years ago.

The bottom line is that the number of people who believe independent of religious or political affiliations, that things are not going well in terms of foreign policy administration is increasing across the board.

Neither Prime Minister Erdoğan, nor foreign Minister Davutoğlu can afford to overlook this fact for long.


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Notice on comments

Blue Dotterel

8/8/2012 2:36:16 AM

Mara, you really need to study the history of your country more seriously, particularly since WWII. Over the past 30 years especially, its foreign policy objectives have been responsible directly or indirectly for most of the world's conflicts and all of those in the ME, including those we often attribute to Israel. The reason for this is that the US is striving to be a unipolar hegemon like Napolean's France or Hitler's Germany. They failed, so will the US. The sooner, the better for us all.

Faruk Timuroglu

8/7/2012 11:02:39 PM

The New York Times that has been –still is– a strong supporter of – moderate – Islamist Erdogan, shyly joined the chorus with an Andrew Finkel article (Jul 27). Mr. Finkel has a love affair with the country, began to worry about the way Erdogan is taking Turkey. Erdogan won’t be able to give the victory back to First WW winners –stolen by Ataturk– and satisfy Islamists. The West, in the end, may not be able to redirect the Arab Spring in the way they wish.

ilker avni

8/7/2012 10:59:25 PM

@ Red Tail History is a part of our Turkish culture,were proud of our historty,i dont care for your mental state if your fed up of ultranationlists then thats your problem,im a TURK and proud of it,if you cant stand my comments than i suggest you dont read my comments simple.

ilker avni

8/7/2012 10:48:32 PM

@Mara i have never put down america,as for Turkeys influeance over america i differ,i belive Obama has a very good relations with Erdogan than say Netanhayu or Lieberman for example.,Obama listens to Erdogan and Davutoglu..Turkey is useing smart power to topple Assad without a single Turkish ,or foriegn troops involved.The lands the Ottomans gave away will be all under Turkeys influeance.Tunsia,Libya,Egypt,Syria,iraq are all under Turkeys influeance.This is Turkeys growing smart power.

Red Tail

8/7/2012 8:47:35 PM

Ilker. Yes you do live in a past that you have created yourself. I am soooo fed up by ultranationalists who live on a dream of a glorious past instead of being able to see today and what we are. You can see them all over the world. Almost always "nobodies" who pick a few events from their own history and from there build up some image that they belong to some superior race or people. They are totally blind towards any short comings or problems in their history. Their history is only glorious.

ilker avni

8/7/2012 5:59:26 PM

@Red tail and Johana dew Im not living in the past,and as for Ottoman being backward your insulting the Allies who were defeated by the Ottomans,The Ottoman were more forward thinking.The point i was making that under the Ottomans all relgions were treated fairly .The trouble is soon as you mention the Ottomans, people soon jump down your neck.The Ottomans had a lot of good points and know the Arabs very well.


8/7/2012 5:39:00 PM

What contradiction? Greeks and Turks on Cyprus were NEVER united at any time, wheras Kurds are totally integrated, they not a minority group. They were not subject to ethnic cleansings and mass murder as TCs were. Turkish Cypriots have an offcial status. Cyprus after all was Turkish property until last century.

mara mcglothin

8/7/2012 4:32:53 PM

ILKER BLUE As usual take no responsibility for what Turkeyh has done or not done and blame the whole thing on the USA. I sure do wish, as an American, that there was someone to point a finger at when things go badly for us. Must be wonderful being able to do what you like, and then blame the stuff that goes wrong on Amreicans. Damned if we do and damned if we don't! Turkey has no influence over America, ILKER, but it does own NATO!

Shah Hamdan

8/7/2012 4:01:02 PM

Turkey have two main issues i,e Kurd and Alevi. Kurds have a long bloody history and Alevis are peace loving cmmunity till now. But under new circumstances how long they will stay calm? If Irani, Iraqi, and Syrian Kurds are finding common ground. Then PKK will join them unconditional. Who Knows one day Alwaites and Alevi will find common ground to struggle against oppression?. Turkey will not find friends to veto UNSC resolutions against her as its friends will be one who will bring it in UNSC.

Ryan James

8/7/2012 3:44:47 PM

My wife’s uncle, Adil, was shot and killed in cold blood in a Damascus street. He had no blackmail money. He was poor. So he was shot. He was shot by killers financed and organized by the USA and Turkey, in particular by Barack Obama and Turkey’s prime minister and prime collaborator, and their equally murderous emissaries, agents, and covert collaborators, along with their overt collaborators like the Turkish and American armed forces and the CIA.
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