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POLI 341 (39)

Turkey - Sabri Sayari

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 341
Imad Mansour

Turkey and the Middle EastSabri SayariWith the end of the CW and following the Gulf warTurkey abandoned its lowprofile in the ME for a more activist regional role The Kurdish issue is an important item on Turkeys domestic and foreign policy agendashas had important implications for Turkeys ME policyespecially exacerbating the longstanding problems with Syria which influenced Turkeys decision to sign a military agreement with IsraelA new activist Middle East policy Characteristics of Turkeys FP during the CWAvoided involvement in interArab disputes the ArabIsraeli conflict and other regional conflicts such as the IranIraq war Maintain cordial if not very close political and diplomatic ties with all the Arab regimes Iran and Israel Maintained nonactivist and lowprofile posture in its approach to the Arab worldWhile Turkey was the only predominantly Muslim state to recognize the state of Israel in 1949it however gradually moved toward a more proPalestinian position in the ArabIsraeli conflict after 1967 Shift was partly due to domestic political pressuresincluding the growing saliency of Islam in electoral politics With the 197374 oil criseseconomics and trade acquired increased importance in Turkeys ME policyattempt to improve relations with the Arab states and Iran in order to expand the export of goods and services to the region Turkey was profoundly affected by the end of the CWwhich raised fundamental questions about its role in the Western alliancethe main drive of its response to this new situation was to pursue a more activist role in regions close to its borders including the Balkans Caucasus Central Asia and the ME Turgut Ozal played a central role in the formulation of this strategyOzal believed Turkey could continue to be a valued ally of the West only by expanding its regional role and influence He believed that the path to economic progress was through increased trade with Turkeys neighbors which itself would come from a greater political involvement in the regional environmentThe single most event that paved the way for a more active policy in the Arab world was the Gulf War of 199091Turkeys support for the allied coalition marked a radical departure from its established policy regarding noninvolment in regional conflicts and wars Turkey played a key role in the UNbacked military and economic campaign against Saddam Husseins regime as it shut off the twin pipelines that carried Iraqs oil exports and permit US use of Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey for strikes into northern Iraq
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