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TFP2 Last Week

Thirteenth and the last lesson
 Thirteenth
and the last lesson
During this period of 2009 and 2010, the weight
of the Eastern option and the Shangai
Cooperation Organization in Turkish foreign
policy has increased.
was now well aware of this
new axis and focused on getting
an observant membership to the
And at this point, the EU and the
USA blamed on each other.
The US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates saw all the
responsibility for Turkey’s shift of axis,
mainly in the EU’s rejective attitude toward Turkey in full
membership process.
According to Gates, Turkey was heading to the East,
due to the reluctant attitude of the EU.
And on the contrary, the EU-Commission President Jose
Manuel Barosso responded to Gates as follows:
“Turkey started to move away from the West with the US invasion
of Iraq”. He said to the US, «then it’s your fault».
In this environment, even the ultra westernist
Gülen Movement had also shifted towards
So that, TUSKON, the businessmen organization of the
Gülen Movement, signed a cooperation agreement with
the Russian Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association
on September 28, 2009.
Thus, TUSKON got this cooperation agreement,
that TUSİAD has been pursuing for a long time.
Therefore, during President Medvedev’s official visit to
Turkey, TUSKON was included in the Turkish-Russian
Business Forum,
instead of DEİK (in English the Foreign Economic Relations Board).
In addition, the publishing houses of the Gülen Movement in
Turkey, began to translate and publish all the books of
Yevgeny Primakov, one of Russia’s leading veteran politicians.
And in fact, Primakov came to Turkey on June
23, 2010 just for the signing ceremony of his last
So, what was the reason, for this special interest
in Primakov?
Because Primakov was respectively
 Russia’s
 and
former foreign minister and prime minister,
most importantly, he was the current president of
the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
On the other hand; at this stage, even the
Obama Administration in the US, preferred to
concentrate further toward the East.
The Obama Administration has brought up to the
agenda the updated Greater Middle East Project, at this
According to this plan:
- The new center of gravity would now be the AfghanistanPakistan axis, instead of Iraq,
- Instead of “enemy Islam” view, the “partnership with Islam”
discourse would be used and prevailed,
- Instead of embarking on the worldwide adventures by the USA
alone, trans-Atlantic relations would be restructured through the
new NATO.
So, in order to balance China,
the USA would settle in this new center of gravity
(that was Afghanistan-Pakistan axis) in Eurasia as
soon as possible,
while the heavy Works of the old center of
gravity would be given to its allies and some
contractor states,
 of
course, especially to Turkey.
So, within the framework of the model
Turkey would primarily assume the protector role
of the Kurds on behalf of the USA.
But, while President Bush’s Iraq-based Greater Middle East
Project lasted 8 years; President Obama’s updated new
Project in Afghanistan-Pakistan axis, lasted only 1 and a half
Eventually, Obama’s Afghanistan strategy began to
unravel and the US had to return to its former Iraq based
Even the Obama Administration initially declared the
July-2011 as the “date of withdrawal” from Afghanistan.
EU and NATO member states also did not give support to
the US in Afghanistan.
And US troops were isolated and could not leave Kabul.
Under these conditions, in Afghanistan issue, Turkey was
the most needed country by the US.
So, the US needed the most help
from Turkey.
The United States requested combat troops from Turkey.
Although the JDP government gave an open support to this
the Turkish General Staff resisted and as the result, the combat
forces were not sent to Afghanistan.
AND Finally, the Obama Administration has come to the point of
negotiations with the Taliban regime.
And also, an uncertainty began to prevail in the Manas military base
in Kyrgyzstan, which was one of the US main headquarters for
Afghanistan operation.
At this stage, the US received a support from the president of Turkey,
Abdullah Gül,
as we explained earlier for continuing the use of this base.
As the result: The USA focused on the Middle East
again within the framework of the Northern Iraq
As a matter of fact, the US combat troops started to be
withdrawn from the center of Iraq by the end of 2010,
Finally, the US withdrew its all combat forces from Central
and Southern Iraq at the end of 2011,
but it continued to be existed in Northern Iraq.
but the Blackwater type special armies began to be given way
after withdrawal of the troops.
The following statement of the US president Obama was
quite meaningful. He said exactly that:
“We are ending the war in Iraq, but we are not finishing our
business with this country”.
So, according to the US strategic vision,
‘Turkey should support the regional Kurdish
administration in Northern Iraq through the
peace and opening processes’.
 Indeed,
the US ambassador to Turkey, at
that time, James Jeffrey was saying that:
 “We
tolerate Turkey playing a more important
role in the Middle East”.
Turkey’s primary role in the Middle East has
been an “encouraging model” (özendirici
model), since 2010.
The intellectual infrastructure of this model was
described by Stephen Kinzer in New York Times
as follows:
 “By
demonstrating its independence from Washington
D.C, Turkey has further increased its credibility in the
Middle East.
 This
credibility could be a stratgic value for the West.
 Because
Turkish diplomats can go where the
Americans cannot go, they can talk to groups the
Americans can’t talk to and make deals the
Americans can’t make.”
And the Retired Ambassador James Holmes, who
was at that time the president of the AmericanTurkish Council, made the following assessment
about Turkey’s role:
 “By
emphasizing both its independent role
in its near abroad and its relations with the
EU and NATO, Turkey can be an
encouraging model for other countries”.
A significant role played under this encouragingincentive model has been Turkey’s Uranium Swap
Agreement with Iran.
This Project was first put forward by the president of the International
Atomic Energy Agency, Muhammed El Baradei, in October 2009, as a
proposal to store the Iranian Uranium in Turkey.
But Iran diplomatically rejected this proposal three times.
And Tehran did not agree to such a bilateral agreement with Turkey.
The US, on the other hand, continued to insist on this proposal.
Finally, a new proposal was presented that Iran could accept.
According to the new proposal, Brazil on behalf of Russia, China and
Iran; and Turkey on behalf of the USA and EU, would be involved in this
uranium swap process.
As a result, the Uranium Swap Agreement was signed on May 17, 2010,
between Turkey, Brazil, and Iran.
According to this agreement, 1.200 kilograms of uranium held by Iran
would be exchanged for enriched uranium on Turkish soil.
Another important role played by Turkey
during this period was the Rescuer (Kurtarıcı)
 This
role was generally reflected in the
controlled tension strategy against Israel.
 At
the 2009-Davos Economic Forum, prime
minister Erdoğan and Israeli president Şimon
Perez spoke at a panel, moderated by
American journalist David Ignatius.
 However,
about a year ago, Erdoğan had
applauded Perez’s speech in the Turkish
Grand National Assembly on November 13,
As known, Erdoğan left the panel in Davos by
shouting “one minute”.
Everyone was astonished.
However, this panel meeting was not in the forum’s official
So, Turkey had asked for this additional panel to be held 2 weeks
After the panel, Erdoğan protestfully said “Today, Davos is over for
In his return to Turkey, Erdoğan was greeted in İstanbul at night with
banners writing as “the conqueror of Davos and World leader”.
So after this incident, the Turkish governmental party caught a good
wind and won the local elections of 29 March 2009.
But after that, the controlled tension with Israel continued and much
more expanded in Turkish foreign policy.
The peak point, in this regard, was, without a
doubt, the Mavi Marmara crisis that occured
on May 31, 2010.
 Very
interestingly, the Deputies from Ak
Party were about to board, but at the last
moment, they gave up boarding the ship.
 This
raised naturally some ‘question marks’
in the minds.
There were also some serious questions about
the ship and this expedition.
1) First of all, the international environment was not prepared
enough before the humanitarian convoy departed.
2) Israel had publicly declared that it would attack the
It was threatening that the convoy should not even sail.
But these were not taken into account at all by organizers.
3) Normally, the Blue Marmara was not an international
voyage ship.
In other words, it did not have to comply with SOLAS
(Safety of Life at Sea Convention).
As a matter of fact, it was not given a “passenger ship
safety certificate”,
 because
its lifeboats were clearly unsufficient.
4) Therefore, the organizator of the Gaza expedition, the
Humanitarian Relief Foundation-IHH changed the flag of
the ship
and hoisted the easy flag of Comoros (Komorlar) in order to
simply overcome this problem.
5) After the bloody Mavi Marmara raid, the people took
to the streets in Turkey and showed their severe reactions
against Israel.
The Gülen Movement, on the contrary, heavily criticized the
Turkish Government about the Gaza Convoy for leaving Turkish
territorial waters without permission of Israel
and tried to adjust the government’s policies, at the moment.
On the other hand, the public opinion in Turkey began to turn
against Israel and the US, after this incident.
But, shortly after this crisis athmosphere, since
December 2010, the Arab Spring process emerged,
which would completely affect the Turkish foreign policy.
A protest movement,
started by an unemployed young engineer Mouhammad
Bouazizi’s burning himself in Tunisia
resulted in the Jasmine Revolution on January 14, 2011 in this
And as the result, the administration of Zeynel Abidin bin Ali in
Tunisia has collapsed.
Then the public protests spread to Egypt and the era of Hüsnü
Mübarek also came to an end.
After that, events spread to Libya.
And the final result was again the overthrown of Muammer
Finally, as it is known, the events reached
Thus, the Arab Spring Revolutions continued in the same
At this stage of revolutions, “The Leaders of Change
Summit Meeting” was held in İstanbul on March 14, 2011.
At the summit, Prime Minister Erdoğan’s message was:
“We are obligatory to help change and provide
directions “.
With this attitude, Turkey has shown that it would act
within the framework of the Greater Middle East Project
co-presidency and/or the model partnership with the
And Foreign Minister Davutoğlu also expressed
his similar view in this meeting on the subject as
“If we cannot lead the change with an active
 we
will be the country most negatively affected by
these developments in this geography”.
Therefore, it has been clearly understood that,
the government in Turkey has become a strong
supporter of the changes in the Middle East at
this point.
In Syria, on March 18, 2011, in the city of Dera, located in the
South of the country, incidents and protests in which weapons
were also used, were erupted.
The protests and demonstrations were more triggered by the arrest
of 4 young people who wrote against the Baath regime on the walls
in Dera city.
After that, in the ongoing protests against the arrests, the police
forces killed 4 demonstrators.
And the events continued also during the funeral ceremonies and
the protests spread to other cities especially with a large Sunni
population. (for example Aleppo)
Regime forces intervened violently in the events.
This, resulted in more casualties.
Meanwhile, on August 23, 2011, the overthrown of Muammer
Gaddafi regime in Libya, provided a great additional motivation to
the revolutionary process in Syria.
BUT, some interesting allegations and explanations
have been made about the Dera events,
which were the starting point of the revolution process in Syria.
Accordingly, it was claimed that the Lebanese lands
were used in the events of Dera.
As stated in some allegations, these events in Dera, were
supported and/or organized by the paramilitary units
affiliated with Saad Hariri’s 14-March-Alliance of
which acted on the instructions of the US-deputy secretary of
state Jeffrey D. Feltman at that time.
In other words, Lebanon would have helped the Arab
Spring events to spread to Syria, at this stage.
But unfortunately, Lebanon’s political structure and
power were not enough to get successful results in Syria.
And the president of Lebanon at that time, Mişel Suleyman,
did not also support the idea of opening a corridor from
Lebanon to Damascus, similar to the Libyan-Benghazi Corridor
Because, there were 2 obstacles to the Lebanon’s initiative.
1) The first one was that: Syrian forces in the region were very strong.
So much so that, they chased the paramilitary groups up to the
Lebanese border.
In fact they would almost enter the border again, for the first time since
Insurgent groups, on the other hand, preferred to flee to the North
towards Lebanon, rather than Jordan, which is closer to Dera.
2) And the second one was that: internally, the Lebanon Resistence
Hizbullah factor prevented this initiative.
It was supporting the Lebanon’s government in 2010.
Under these circumstances, Turkey, on the other hand, had
some reform expectations from the Baath regime before the
establishment of a corridor towards Syria.
Prime Minister Erdoğan wanted to have Beşar Esad, whom he called
him as his “brother”, make some political reforms in Syria.
First of all, he suggested that the members of the Muslim
Brotherhood (Ihvan-ı Muslimin) organization be included in the
Syrian government
and the BAATH ideology should be softened.
But Assad regime did not come close to these demands and
and tried to stall Turkey.
And he did not take the Brotherhood ideology into the government.
Turkey, on the other hand, has always protected the Syrian
From the very beginning, there were 4 main
reasons for Turkey’s high engagement in the
Syrian issue.
1) The first one was Erdoğan’s leadership.
Undoubtedly, his tremendous popularity on the Arab Street, pushed him
to taking more responsibility.
2) Secondly, this was the case as required by the US Doctrine, at
that time.
Obama Administration’s absolute support for Turkey on this issue and the
parallelism between the two states on the agenda
have been remarkable.
In a sense, the Syrian issue, was wanted to be referred to Turkey, within
the framework of the «Leading from Behind» doctrine.
This was also a factor that increased Turkey’s engagement in Syria.
3) As the third one, Turkey’s model role had an impact
on our engagement in this issue.
Journalist Nuray Mert’s comment on this point was quite
Mert made the following assessment:
“The Western World wanted to give the most active role in this
issue to Turkey, as a Muslim NATO member state,
And the West has also tried to stay away from some cruel and
destructive formulations that could backfire in the Middle East,
in order not to give the image of imperialist Western interventions
similar to the Crusades in this case.
as in the minds of Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.”
For this reason, the Syrian affair was heavily left to
Turkey’s share.
 4)
And the fourth reason was related with
Turkey’s plans about the Middle East order.
 The
Arab Spring clearly triggered Turkey’s
quest for regional leadership.
 Therefore
the situation at this time has
 just
like Turkey’s position to lead the Middle East in
cooperation with the US in the region after the fall
of the Shah regime in Iran in 1979.
 And
same way, at this stage, Turkey has felt
the same desire to lead and order the whole
region since 2011,
 after
the Mubarek regime was overthrown.
In other words, the Arap Spring or Awakening triggered
Turkey’s quest for regional leadership and gave her a
great opportunity.
Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s contribution to this search
was undoubtedly great.
In one of his interviews with the Financial Times on
November 23, 2011,
Davutoğlu described Turkey before the JDP government as
“He was just like a man with muscular arms but an empty
stomach, a small brain, and a trembling heart”.
According to Davutoğlu, Turkey should now surpass this
weak and narrow image.
Therefore, Turkey could not seat back and watch all
these events.