World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th – 24th 2010


Turkey and Middle East in World Politics (296) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 9.00-11.00 am

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Istanbul Sehir University (Turkey)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Muzaffer Senel

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: The aim of this panel is to examine the role, place and position of Turkey, the European Union and the USA in the Middle East. Papers try to highlight the Turkish understandings on the Middle East by comparing EU and US Policies to the region after 2001. Papers should take the transformation (continuities and changes) of Turkish Foreign Policy into account.

Chair: Tuncay Kardaş (Sakarya University)

Discussant: Fahrettin Altun (Istanbul Sehir University)

Paper presenter: Mesut Ozcan (Istanbul Commerce University), “Turkish Foreign Policy toward Middle East between Brussels and Washington”
The paper will focus on the continuities and changes in the Turkish Foreign Policy after 2001 by focusing on quest for balanced position in the Middle East among the two Western alternatives, the EU/Brussels and the US/Washington.

Paper presenter: Muzaffer Senel (Istanbul Sehir University), “Comparing Turkey’s and European Union’s Policies towards Middle East: Harmonization or What?”
The paper will concentrates on European Union policies towards the Middle East, especially focusing EU’s role in the Peace Process within the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The Middle East in general and the Peace Process in specific will be a common denominator to reach a common foreign and security policy for the EU. Arab-Israeli conflict lies in the hearth of the region problems that cause instability. Security and stability in the European continent are directly linked to the security and stability in the greater Middle East region. The EU therefore wants to play a significant political role within the peace process, while it is the largest financial contributor to the peace process. After the decline of the Soviet Union, especially the Arabs welcomed to the EU’s involvement to the process to counterweight the USA that pursues pro-Israeli policy. On the other hand the European strategists stress that the EU’s initiatives should be complementary to the initiatives of the USA. Especially after the 2001 tragedy, Arabs welcomed the Turkish active participation to the Middle East affairs especially specific to the Middle East Peace Process. Senel, therefore, will compare the Turkish Policy toward the Middle East with the EU’s one and he is asking that are the policies going to be harmonious or not?

Paper presenter:Murat Yesiltas (Marmara University and Sakarya University), “US Policy towards Middle East and the Position of Turkey: Soft Balancing or Bandwagoning”
The paper argues that soft balancing and bandwagoning theories provide the best framework to understand Turkey’s foreign policy towards the US in terms of its unilateral policy towards the Middle East in the post 9/11 era. To put the matter bluntly, Turkish foreign policy regarding crisis in the Middle East can be examined through the lenses of the soft balancing and bandwagoning; in order to prevent the war and minimize its negative effect on the region as well as its own interest. He argues that Turkey’s soft balancing policy is a strategic effort in overall structural terms to increase influence vis-a-vis the US via non-military means. In this respect, his paper is divided into two sections. The first section will give an overall explanation about the theory of soft balancing and bandwagoning. Second section will examine Turkish foreign policy regarding the Middle East crisis especially focusing on Iraq and Syria as soft balancing against the US before the 2003 Iraq war. This being said the second section will treat Turkish foreign policy in both three soft balancing strategies which compose of diplomatic soft balancing in the regional level, institutional soft balancing in the international level, and territorial denial as an instrument of soft balancing in the national level and limited soft-bandwagoning with the break of war.

Paper presenter: Nebi Mis and Ismail Numan Telci (Sakarya University), “Facilitation as a Tool in Foreign Policy: The Case of Turkey’s Role in Conflicts in the Middle East”
The paper will focus on the facilitator conducts of Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East. As the literature on conflict resolution reveals, main characteristics of facilitation are enhancing mutual understanding of perceptions, interests and needs, and preparing for joint actions. A process of facilitation can be conducted through political actors, good will offices and special envoys. These facilitators have varying roles such as sustaining uninterrupted liaison between groups, revealing information in order to authenticate misinformation. But unlike mediation, facilitation does not focus so much on decision making. With the AKP’s rising to power, facilitation turned into an effective tool in Turkish foreign policy. AKP’s regional foreign policy is based on aiming to convert the region from a war-hole to a peace haven, accommodating economical and political interdependency at the maximum level in the region and preventing conflicts before they emerge. Therefore, it primarily focuses on resolving inherited problems. Turkey has played facilitating role in conflicts between Syria and Israel, Lebanon and Syria, Iraq and Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia, Iran and USA, and between domestic political groups in Lebanon and in Iraq. In this paper Mi and Telci, will be to answer the following questions: What is the regional power and how Turkey is turning into one? How can we understand the rise of Turkey in the region? Is being facilitator is a condition for being a regional power? How has Turkey achieved to be considered as a “reliable facilitator”? What kind of effects does this facilitator role play on Turkey’s foreign policy?

Paper presenter: Dr. Ali Balcı (Sakarya University Department of International Relations), “Turkish-Israeli Relations within the Context of Civil-Military Relations in Turkey”
The study presumes that there is no clear distinction between foreign and domestic politics and argues that Turkish-Israeli relations after the Cold War is not separable from civil-military relations in Turkey. The main argument of the study is that while relations with Israel in the 1990’s were used as a strategy by the military (and Kemalist elite in Turkey) against the rise of political Islam, in the 2000’s, governments have increasingly began to control the relationship between Israel and Turkey.
The key concept to understand the differences between the relations in the 1990’s and the 2000’s is ‘securitization’ which is an ‘extreme or abnormal politicization’. “The act tends to lead to specific ways of addressing a problem when it is ‘securitized’” (Waever, 1995: 65). In the 1990’s, it can be mentioned two complementary securitizations when Turkish-Israeli relations. First, ‘Two and a Half War Strategy’ which means that Turkey was threaten by the two fronts, Greece and Syria, and the ‘half front’, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was used by the military to legitimatize the alliance with Israel. Second, the rise of fundamental Islam in the Middle East (or Iran’s aim to export the revolution) was an excuse for this alliance.
In the 2000’s, the above securitizations were de-securitized by the softening the tension with Greece after the earthquake in 1999, the capture Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of PKK and Iran’s renouncement to export the revolution during the Humeyni’s reign. On the other hand, Second Intifada made securitization possible for Israel. Civil governments in Turkey had a free space to speak on Israel and criticize it. Depicting Israel as a security problem for the region de-legitimized the close relationship between Israel and Turkish military. Hereby, the military has lost its dominance in the relations and shared its authority with civilian governments.