The Ibrahim Abu Institute of International Studies and The International Studies Master program with the cooperation of the Department of Political Sciences / Faculty of Law and Public Administration organized Public Lecture on Thursday, May 4, 2023, titled “The Transformations of Turkish Foreign Policy towards the Middle East ” by Dr. Nuri Yesilurt Professor of International Relations at the University of Ankara in Turkey, and the lecture and discussion was moderated by Dr. Abdel Rahman Haj Ibrahim The Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Birzeit University.
Dr. Yesilurt demonstrated the Turkish foreign policy towards the Middle East which went through four stages and transformations. The first begins in the nineties of the twentieth century when Turkey's foreign relations witnessed instability. Given the existence of a weak coalition between Turkish governments. The radical shift in Turkish foreign policy began with the victory of the Justice and Development Party in 2002, which led to active Turkish participation in the Middle East in conjunction with the changes in the region triggered by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In pursuit of a regional position, Rejab Tayyip Erdogan's government pursued "soft power" policies. In the Middle East, it also sought to improve its relations with Middle Eastern countries, especially neighboring countries, through diplomatic and economic means.
The second shift in Turkish foreign policy towards the Middle East emerged with the outbreak of the Arab uprisings in 2011 when Turkey tried to present itself as a model of democracy and economic progress, by supporting freedoms and elections in the Arab world. However, the state of "regional vacuum" has turned into a conflict since 2013, when the path of democratic transition changed to the path of civil wars and the resulting regional challenges to Turkish politics.
Dr. Yesilurt referred to the third transformation, by which Turkey's pursuit of a "solid policy" in the Middle East. One of the most important factors in this was the failed military coup attempt against President Erdogan in July 2016; When the country's domestic political stability was threatened at a time when Turkey was facing tension in its foreign relations.
As for the fourth and final shift, it is when Turkey seemed more pragmatic in its foreign policy, especially with the changes in the International System and the region scene since 2021, as Turkey starts to improve its foreign relations.