TEHRAN (Basirat)- Having dispute with the Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan and being responsible for political failure of Turkey’s policies in the region as well as the country’s stalling economic growth each can stand as a reason for Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation.
Having dispute with the Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan and being responsible for political failure of Turkey’s policies in the region as well as the country’s stalling economic growth each can stand as a reason for Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation.By Mir Hadi Mousavi
At a recent press conference, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu coolly
stepped down from power as leader of the ruling AK Party and, without giving any explanation, announced that he will not be a candidate for the party leadership again. There is endless media speculation that whether or not Davutoglu’s resignation has been a sacrifice in line with the party’s objectives or a personal decision based an order from above. Anyway, what is important is that we are going to witness some developments with respect to the Turkish government’s domestic and foreign policies not in the too distant future.
The factor that today determines Turkey’s situation in the political scene has its origins in a series of ideas which were materialized after Davutoglu’s took office in the country’s Foreign Ministry in 2009. Turkey, as one of the Middle East’s players,has been witness to a split between secularism and Islam. In the early days of the AK Party, the government attempted to heal the rift so that it can bridge the gap between religion and government, using its Ottoman heritage. Therefore, such efforts paved the way for seculars to distant themselves from the government. Hence the society moved toward a fragmentary order. Under such a circumstance, Turkey’s regional power was boosted in the middle of a political uncertainty and the society advanced toward religiosity. Beside Ankara’s bewilderment at the domestic policy, following up the crisis making policies in the troublesome region also arose a number of problems for it.
When this was accompanied by the time that two of its neighbors (Iraq and Syria) nearly collapsed and lost control over large swathes of their territories, one cannot basically expect Turkey’s policy to remain unchanged and continue like before back in 2011. Turkey’s ethnic mix particularly at its border areas is very similar to the war-stricken countries, which have posed serious challenges to Ankara.
A point that needs to be considered here in regard to Turkey’s regional policy is that it has so far failed to properly comprehend the developments in the region as well as address its own national security. Dominance of Davutoglu’s idealistic perspectives over the country’s foreign policy also added to this. Davutoglu in a book titled "Strategic Depth” discusses his points of view on foreign policy. He believes that all areas in the Middle East, the Balkan region, the Caucasus region, Central Asia and the Caspian, the Mediterranean region, Persian Gulf and the Black Sea belong to Turkey’s cultural world and it can take a leadership role in these areas. Also this means that Turkey is turning away from the West’s traditional support for it to join the European Union to the Middle East.
A prescription for such a doctrine brought about an active and major role for Turkey’s foreign policy, which was closely aligned with its history and geographical depth. A role with an emphasis on investment in soft power and economy for supporting the foreign policy. Then,Turkey by playing a more dynamic role in managing the regional and international crises and also forging economic, political and security ties with the regional states, eliminated the need for foreign powers’ interference. Ankara later abandoned a policy to join the EU and instead focused on a plan to increase its cooperation with the countries in the region particularly those which share similar historical background with Ottoman emperor era in an attempt to eventually turn itself into a role model for the Muslim world.
But Turkey, on its way to implement this doctrine, faced two major obstacles, namely domestic problems and some challenges with its neighbors. It failed to peacefully resolve a conflict with Kurdish groups and also heal a division between the seculars and Islamists. It also failed to enter to the scene of foreign policy powerfully and, by not doing so, not only could ensure security at its border but also replaced good neighbor policy with enmity against Syria and Iraq which are grappled with the challenge of terrorism. In countries like Egypt, Ankara gave up everything to rivals as it was involved in a strategic collision with other players like Saudi Arabia. It then came down with an economic crisis and experienced more confused, challenging, and populist policies.
Today, what one can apparently see in Turkey’s foreign policy is a kind of confusion which has its origins in a lack of strategy and strategic ideology in its regional policies. Ankara’s understanding of its geopolitical depth is limited to the guidelines of Davutoglu’s book and with the intensification of the crises in the region, the Turks prefer to move toward short-term resolution of them rather than long-term. Despite the fact that Turkey is one of the major players of the Syrian crisis, they have not been able to offer a compiled viable solution for an era after the civilian war and free of terrorism. On Kurds and establishment of a sovereign state for them, Ankara has adopted the policy of negation. It is conflict with some of its regional allies including Saudi Arabia over this.
What will the future hold for Turkey in the Middle East? Alarmed by the spillover of clashes into its borders (it can be claimed that it has already happened) as well as its potential political repercussions, it will be eventually forced to take a big decision and retreat from its grand ambitions. Resignation of the Turkish prime minister, at least in the framework of the public opinion, can be referred to as one of the first steps for a new era in Turkey’s foreign policy.
Having dispute with the Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan and being responsible for political failure of Turkey’s policies in the region as well as the country’s stalling economic growth each can stand as a reason for Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation. But it should be also taken into consideration that Davutoglu, practically,was never looked at as a prime minster with full authority during his nearly two years in office as he always ruled under the shadow of his Godfather. What now is expected to come is another general election so that a new prime minister can implement Erdogan’s theories, including a presidential system and improvement of Turkey’s situation at the platform of foreign policy.
Mir Hadi Mousavi is a researcher in the fields of diplomacy and international relations. His main field of interest is Iran-Turkey's foreign policy. Mousavi has published several articles at credible publications both in Persian and English in this respect.