Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Turkey & The Middle East

#2 International Relations in the Middle East
Turkey & The Middle East
Armenia: In 1915-1917, Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) exterminated upwards of 1 million Armenians, known as the Armenian Genocide. Although Turkey denies the occurrence of this, this shows the height of the strained relationship between these two bordering nations. Following this, there have also been numerous events that prevent any future attempts at developing more peaceful diplomatic ties. The current President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, visited Armenia in 2007 (the first ever leader to do so) with the intentions of normalizing their relationship, but the intensity of prior disagreements was too strong to overcome.

Political Divisions in Cyrpus
Cyprus: Cyprus is an island state in the Mediterranean Sea that is composed of approximately of 50% people of Turkish decent in the north and 50% Greek decent in the south. Turkey is the only nation in the world that refuses to recognize the entire government of Cyprus as an independent state. Instead, Turkey acknowledges the Turkish population in the north as an independent state of Northern Cyprus, and recognizes disputed claims with Greece over the southern territory. However, Cyprus was admitted to the European Union in 2004, making it harder for Turkey to be admitted to the EU if it still maintains this view. 

Iran: Historically, Iran and Turkey are arguably major rivals. Both countries are seeking to extend their influence over the politics of other Middle Eastern states. This has resulted in some notable opposition in proxy conflicts (such as Syria) where Iran supports Assad's Shia regime, and Turkey supports the rebels for the purposes of protecting Turkey's security. However, despite outside tensions with their alliances, Turkey and Iran are highly cooperative for the purposes of economic development. Notably, there is a pipeline running from Northern Iran to Ankara to supply Turkey with gas imports. There are plans to further develop pipelines across Turkey to allow supplies to reach Europe. 

Israel: Turkey and Israel share many of the same goals. Both states claim to support the regional stability of the Middle East. However, Israel has poor relations with a large number of Middle Eastern states (Iran). Support of Israel could draw a line between some of the alliances that have been forming in this region, which could damage Turkey's relations with other powers. Though, economically, Turkey and Israel have a free-trade agreement, and both countries support each other in terms of investments and humanitarian relief.

Syrian Refugees
Syria: Although Syria and Turkey were coexisting peacefully, as members of such organizations as the OIC, the Civil War in Syria began to affect relations with Turkey when attacks began to cross borderlines and refugees (now totaling over 1 million Syrians) were displaced into Turkish territory. There are also disputes about the water supply and other resources in the area, as the Tigris and Euphrates river flow through both Turkey and Syria. As a scarce, valuable resource in the area, this could serve as a common dispute concerning many Middle Eastern nations in the future. 

New York Times
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul

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