Has the economy lost its influence on Turkey’s foreign policy

The Conversation - January 25, 2016

Nader Habibi is the Henry J. Leir professor of the economics of the Middle East in the Crown Center at Brandeis University.

Turkey has become one of America’s most vital partners in the Middle East in promoting stability and growth in the region and a key ally in the West’s fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS. This is partly because of its status as the only majority-Muslim member of NATO, but also because at the start of the 21st century, Turkey began viewing its economic interests as the top priority of its foreign policy.

This helped deepen its diplomatic and economic relations with regional neighbors such as Iran, Syria and Egypt that previously were seen as adversaries or even security threats, thus enhancing its geopolitical significance for the U.S. and Europe. It also led to warmer relations with Israel, another key U.S. ally in the region.

But recent actions by Turkey – such as its downing of a Russian fighter in November – suggest its foreign policy is beginning to hum to a different tune, one that will not hesitate to confront a major economic partner over a border violation issue that could have been handled differently. ... Read the Full Text