David Bedein – The Bulletin May 7, 2009
A report issued by the Washington Institute says Turkey has moved steadily away from its NATO allies and toward Iran, Russia and Syria.
The report, titled “The AKP’s Foreign Policy: The Misnomer of Neo-Ottomanism” and authored by senior researcher Soner Cagaptay, says Turkey’s new foreign policy — led by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP according to its Turkish initials — has come at the expense of Ankara’s relations with Israel, the European Union and the United States.
“Ankara will likely opt out of a NATO consensus on Iran, clash with the United States on how to handle Hamas and Hezbollah, and disagree with the EU and the U.S. on Russia,” the report said.
The report says Turkey has developed friendlier relations with Russia and the Islamic world than with the West. Mr. Cagaptay cited Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria as examples of Turkey’s growing ties in the Islamic world.
“The AKP’s foreign policy has a weakness for Arab Islamists and their causes,” the report said. “The policy shows empathy towards Middle East Muslims and Islamists, though the same empathy is missing towards non-Muslims and non-Middle Eastern issues. Business deals play an important role in sustaining the stronger ties that Turkey is developing with Russia, the Persian Gulf states, Sudan and Iran.”
At the same time, Turkey refused to support Georgia during its brief war with Russia in 2008. The report said Turkey has also ignored its Central Asian neighbors, such as Azerbaijan and Georgia, to focus on relations with Russia.
Mr. Cagaptay wrote AKP, most of whose leaders speak Arabic and were educated in Muslim schools, has divided the world in religious blocs — either Christian or Muslim. AKP, which won power in 2002 and dominates parliament, has avoided criticism of Iran’s nuclear program while maintaining ties with Tehran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah.
“It [AKP] is pro-Hamas, pro-Syria, pro-Hezbollah, pro-Qatar, pro-Saudi,” the report said. “The AKP views the world as composed of religious blocs, and this disposition colors its views of the Middle East and the world.”
Last updated 11/05/2009