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POLI 341 (39)

From Distant Neighbours to Partners ? Changing Syrian - Turkish Relations by Altunsik and Tur

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 341
Imad Mansour

From Distant Neighbours to Partners Changing SyrianTurkish Relationsby Altunsik and Tur Purpose explore the increased relationship between the 2 countries after the crisis of 1998 and the ensuing Adana AgreementThesis While systemic factors have been crucial in setting up the format of the Turkey and Syria relationship these factors gain meaning only when looked at through the lens of domestic complexities To a large extent the relationship was framed by the Cold War since each country sided with a different superpower Domestic concerns over sovereignty and territorial integrity were the factors through which this relationship was enacted The authors argue that the conflict in basic terms arose within the context of postCold War politics within which the end of bipolarity led the sates to engage in redefinitions of their places in the regional subsystem This redefinition was played out through the issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which were perceived in terms of a zerosum game Both Syria and Turkey attempted to balance against each other and this resulted in escalationThe rapprochement meanwhile occurred within the context of the crisis over Iraq which led to the strengthening of common threats and interests whereas changing US policy towards Syria pushed Damascus to pursue closer ties with Turkey Domestically speaking in Syria the 2000 change in leadership led to a limited relaxation of control of the political space causing a rethinking of some of the countrys foreign policy positions which then led to perspectives on Turkey being revisited and cultural space being redefined In Turkey the Iraq crisis particularly in terms of its implications towards the Kurds in Turkey influenced their decision making and their foreign relations with both Syria and the USLegacy of the Past Past history between Syria and Turkey are important because this history influences each states narrative and has shaped each states perception of the other The legacy of the Ottoman Empire and of the Arabs alliance with the Allied forces in revolt causes the Turks to view the Arabs as untrustworthy and the Arabs to view the Turks as expansionist oppressors The unification of the Hatay with Turkey 1939 exacerbated the Syrian feeling of victimization and fear of imperialism Relations During the Cold War Until the 1990s the TurkishSyrian relations remained in the shadow of the Cold War Turkeys membership in NATO was seen as an indicator of its predisposition to serving Western interest in the region whereas Syrias Arab nationalism and instability was seen as providing an opportunity for Soviet influence In the 60s the use of the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris emerged as a major issue as both Turkey and Syria embarked on projects for damming the two rivers for energy and irrigation purposes In order to balance against the threat it perceived from Turkey Syria resorted to balancing acts against Turkey by providing sanctuary to the PKK Workers Party of Kurdistan the ASALA Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia and the Turkish radical left DevSol which only increased after the 1980 military coup in Turkey when many of these groups sought refuge Leaders of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood also had escaped to Turkey and found shelter there Turkeys GAP project development of irrigation and energy further strained relations
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