From a difficult to a more difficult year
As we end what has turned out to be a very turbulent year for Turkey, the region and the world, it is clear that we are heading for a new year that will most likely be more difficult.
Developments in the Middle East will continue to tax Turkey now that Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s “Zero Problems with Neighbors” policy is all but finished. Syria will continue to be the main challenge, but developments in Iraq appear to suggest that Ankara should be ready for unexpected developments in that country too.
Meanwhile, relations with Iran will remain sensitive and require careful management. As to ties with Israel, there appears little prospect of these improving in the new year unless the apology Turkey has demanded for the Mavi Marmara incident is forthcoming, which appears unlikely.
In Europe, already dormant Turkish-EU ties can be expected to get worse over the Cyprus issue, especially when Ankara boycotts the Republic of Cyprus’ EU presidency term because it does not recognize that government. Relations with individual European countries will not be uniform. While one can expect good ties with countries such as Britain and Sweden – just to cite two examples – to continue, it is clear the opposite will be the case with other EU members, most notably France.
Ties with Washington, on the other hand, can be expected to continue to improve, except in the event of the Armenian issue resurfacing in the U.S. Congress. It remains to be seen, however, if Congress will go down that path at a time of high volatility in the Middle East where Washington is increasingly relying on Ankara to pay a stabilizing role.