Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Turkey Looks West

Turkey has slowly been aligning itself with Western interests over the past month. A consideration of Turkey-West relations since the beginning of March reveals a several Turkish actions which align squarely with Western interests. In particular, Israel has reciprocated these overtures:

March 20 - Announcement that Turkey will represent US interests in Libya.

There are three caveats to this trend. First, Turkey is hesitant to support NATO control over the Libyan no-fly zone. Second, Turkey is adamant that Israel apologize specifically for wrongdoing in the Gaza flotilla incident. Thirdly, the Turkish non-profit, government-linked IHH will send a new round of ships to challenge Israel's Gaza blockade.

While Turkey has some reservation about Western actions, it is also taking steps not to alienate entirely the West. There may be some cases of clear policy differences, but these are not tantamount to fundamentally irreconcilable positions by any means. Turkey is continuing to implement its "Zero Problems" strategy by positioning itself as a mediator between the US, Israel, Europe, and the Arab World. Moving forward, it will be critical for Western policy makers to understand the nuance of this position and to engage with it in a way which resonates with their own national interests.

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