Signs of pragmatic turn
For the first time since 2018, we witnessed the “official invitation” of the Turkish government of the Minister of Energy of the Zionist regime to participate in the Diplomatic Assembly of Antalya. The trip was later canceled as the conflict in Gaza escalated.
In addition, while relations between the UAE and Turkey have been strained since 2016, largely due to the two countries’ role in the Libyan conflict, the Turkish Foreign Minister spoke with his UAE counterpart in a telephone call.
On the other hand, there have been several reports about Turkey’s political and diplomatic contacts with Saudi Arabia (Turkish Foreign Minister’s visit to Riyadh) and Egypt, which indicate Turkey’s determination to repair and develop relations with the two countries. However, after 2013 and the overthrow of the government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, Turkey’s relations with Egypt were severed, and after Khashoggi’s assassination, the Turkish government’s relations with Saudi Arabia became aggressive.
Turkey’s withdrawal from energy exploration activities in the disputed waters of the Eastern Mediterranean is another example of Turkey’s pragmatic shift in foreign policy.
Influential factors in new approach
Regarding Ankara’s “new policies” in the field of foreign policy, several factors are involved, which are briefly mentioned as follows:
- A) International factors
The coming to power of Biden’s administration and the adoption of specific regional approaches and punitive and strict policies towards the Turkish government regarding Ankara’s policies in Syria, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and the issue of purchasing S400 missile systems from Russia are the most important international factors that can be considered and analyzed as the new approach of the Turkish foreign policy. Even the soft and conciliatory approaches of the Erdogan government towards the Zionist regime can be examined from this point of view. This means that Turkey is seeking the support of the Biden administration through opening the door to interaction with Tel Aviv.
- B) Regional factors
Regional developments not only are not ineffective in the turn of Turkish foreign policy, but are at the “top” of the factors involved. Extensive diplomatic activities of different countries to improve foreign relations and develop bilateral or multilateral cooperation, including the beginning of political-security talks between Tehran and Riyadh, which have been held in several rounds, as well as the settlement of Qatar and Saudi Arabia dispute, and the seriousness of China and Russia in developing their relations with the countries of the region, which makes it conditional on the settlement of disputes within countries, are among the influential regional factors in this regard. The Turkish government, meanwhile, has become somewhat isolated as a result of some aggressive approaches in the region. The fact that Turkey is willing to negotiate and conclude economic agreements with the Zionist regime, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and some other countries is interpreted as an attempt to reintegrate the country into regional equations.
- C) Internal factors
The Ankara government’s regional policies and aggressive actions in recent years have usually had “destructive effects”, especially in the Turkish economic sphere and internal discontent. Today, Erdogan’s government is facing an increasing decline in public popularity at home, which could serve as a negative advantage in the upcoming elections and as a deterrent to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) victory.
Effects and consequences
Adopting new behavioral approaches in the field of Turkish foreign policy can have various effects and consequences both for Turkey and at the regional level, some of which will be mentioned.
Turkey’s interactive approach to countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, or Greece will certainly play an important role in “limiting or resolving regional disputes” that Turkey has been a factor in over the years. As soon as one of the important factors of the conflict redefines its behavior in the framework of coexistence and cooperation, it contributes significantly to the formation of peaceful arrangements in the region, which the Islamic Republic of Iran has always sought.
On the other hand, although the reform of Turkey’s relations with the countries of the region, which are all defined in the Islamic world, should be considered auspicious, but regarding the development of bilateral relations with the Zionist regime, given that Turkey is an important Islamic country, it is necessary to look at the issue with some hesitation. This is “an opportunity for Tel Aviv” in the first place. Anything that creates opportunities and expands the atmosphere of political, economic, security, etc. breathing for the Zionist regime, naturally is against the interests of the Islamic world and the countries of the region and the Palestinian issue.
The pragmatic turn of Turkish foreign policy, while a desirable one, certainly has its challenges. Erdogan’s government is trying to deepen and expand relations with Islamic countries on the one hand and the Zionist regime on the other. This “intensifies the pessimism of Muslim public opinion towards the Turkish government”, at a time when the Palestinian issue is becoming more and more alive and dynamic and there are clear horizons ahead that Ankara needs to pay attention to. On the other hand, the re-establishment of friendly relations with regional competitors is also due to the contradictions that have arisen, especially in the last decade in Turkey’s foreign policy regarding its neighbors and Islamic countries do not seem easy. The destiny that the policy of the “zero tension with neighbors” was inflicted upon which at times turned into “maximum tension with neighbors”, are facts that every country will not ignore in redefining its regional relations with Turkey until signs of full trust emerge.
In addition, normalization of Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and the Zionist regime largely means turning its back on the ideological policies of the AKP. This provokes criticism of Erdogan, who has an instrumental view of the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, in foreign policy accompanied by a pragmatic turn to attempt to revive or reform or improve relations with competitors, it is not such an easy and natural approach to “moving on a tightrope” that achieving the desired results is “time-consuming” which demands its own “specific sensitivities”.