What force Turkey recalibrate its foreign policy?

Alwaght– Turkey’s domestic developments have historically left massive influence on the country’s foreign policy, and on the opposite side foreign developments have impacted the nation’s domestic policy.

The current challenges that Ankara is facing, such as the Kurdish issue and also the economic problems, are largely stemming from the dead end that Ankara’s regional policy is running into. Weakness in dealing with the Kurdish cause has significantly cut the Turkish foreign policy maneuvering power. The interwoven troubles push Turkish leaders to seek a way out of the impasse the nation is grappling with both at home and abroad since at the time being the pressing problem is to tackle the regional crises and handle their effects on the country’s internal developments that make the country subject to economic and security challenges that can jeopardize the future of rule of the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Meanwhile, despite the fact that the Turkey’s foreign policy apparatus looks very personal and dominated by Erdogan, it should not be disregarded that the structural and systematic considerations in the country are very strong and the foreign policy issues in total cannot be attributed utterly to the president. In fact, Turkey has powerful expert bodies and decision-making institutions that are help shape Ankara’s foreign policy approaches.

It seems that these expert bodies have come to the conclusion that Turkey needs to adopt recalibrate its regional and international policy after its Syria policy became a failure and the country’s tensions with European countries have created further hurdles ahead of Ankara’s accession the European Union.

The resignation of Ahmet Davutoglu, the former prime minister, and coming of Binali Yildirim was indicative of emerging changes in Turkish policy. By this replacement in the top administrative post, Ankara to a large extent gave up its formerly-pursued policies and worked on diversifying its game cards in the region. It then softened approach towards Syria, moved away from the West, and went closer to Russia and Iran, two key actors on the Syrian ground.

It should be taken into account that de-escalation with Iran and Russia largely cut the Turkish costs in the region. Even more, it provided Ankara with new economic opportunities. Diplomatic benefits are also lying behind this strategy shift, in relation to the ties with Iraq and also refugee crisis. Turkey seeks killing two birds with one stone by implementing a new moderate strategy.

Along with adopting the fresh approach, Ankara leaders struggled to expand their global interactions. Examples are many, including the recent moves to enhance relations with the Persian Gulf Arab states, as well as Erdogan’s expected visits to countries like India, Russia, China, and the US.

Learning from the past, Turkey wants to send messages to other actors, telling them that Ankara has at its disposal its own foreign policy alternatives. The Turkish leaders now admit that insistence on the previous policies and alliance with a restricted number of players cannot address their national interests. Additionally, the American suspicious moves to help establish autonomous Kurdish regions along the Syria-Turkey border can practically endanger the Turkish national security and interests.

So the gradual Turkish venturing on the fresh policies is not from a strong position but a product of domestic and foreign challenges that push Erdogan to do so in a bid to handle the surrounding crises and at the same time seek internal conditions boost. Should the Turkish leaders manage to deal with the challenges successfully, they can reduce country’s costs meaningfully and consequentially win legitimacy for the government both at home and among regional countries.