Monday, 31 October 2011

Turkish Dilemna

I've decided to switch gears a bit in this blog post, instead of blogging on politics constrained mostly to the US, I'm going to blog about the politics and foreign Policy of a country I am very interested in, Turkey. Turkey has been having all kinds of trouble lately, a couple weeks ago around 20 soldiers were killed in what I believe is the single most deadly attack on Turkey yet by PKK terrorists. Then, only a couple days later a large earthquake hit Eastern Turkey and mostly due to poor building structure (i.e not following building regulations) hundreds of people were killed. Truly a tragedy and I didnt think any more about it until a couple days ago when a Turkish acquaintance told me there are a number of people in Turkey who believe, and I am not making this up, that the earthquake was man-made. This reminded me of Turkey's inane love affair with conspiracy theories and brought me to the conclusion that the problem with Turkey's foreign policy is Turkey's domestic politics.
Turkey is in a better position than any other country in the world to positively influence the Middle East. On paper not only is it the right thing to do it is also quite possibly the most beneficial to Turkey. For example, stopping the murderous dictator Assad would put an end to the flow of refugees into Turkey and end a regime which has in the past and by some reports is again harboring and assisting the PKK, Turkey's public enemy #1. More democratic reform would also certainly help Turkey, Turkey ranks near the top in polls in most Arab countries as one of the most positively perceived countries. To Turkey's credit, it has given more forceful rhetoric than anyone else to the Syrian regime but military intervention still seems a little far fetched. The main detriment to Turkish foreign policy which is due almost completely to domestic politics is Turkey's sympathy for Hamas. Turkish politicians led by Erdogan sensationalized the Gaza Flotilla incident to win public support. It has pushed Turkish-Israeli relations to just a shade below hostile. At the same time it also alienates most other Arab regimes who can see Hamas for the vile organization that it is. They may or may not reject the tactics Hamas uses against Israel but unlike Turkey they don't turn a blind eye to the violent suppression of dissent in Gaza which would lead any objective person to conclude they really don't take the Palestinian peoples interests to heart. I could go on and talk about Turkish-American relations and Turkish-Iranian relations but I think this post would drag on a little too long.

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