The AKP’s foreign policy vision: dangerous murkiness

One thing that is clear is that according to the international rules of engagement, the Turkish downing of the Russian jet was legitimate. But of course, when the jet in question is not an “enemy aircraft” coming in to strike at you, downing it immediately is rarely a wise decision. If it were, there would have been countless planes of both Turkish and Greek origin downed over the Aegean in recent years, which would have no doubt brought us to the brink of war many times over.

Another point that is clear is that there were no serious calculations of what the results — militarily, politically and diplomatically speaking — of the downing of this jet would be. While Russia is obviously not going to declare full-scale war on Turkey right now, it has implemented a very serious cold war strategy that it appears resolved to stick to for now.

Outwardly, the US, NATO and the EU all seem to be supporting Turkey. I do not suppose, however, that any of these entities is too discomforted by the thought of Russia overturning Turkish plans and calculations in Syria and the Middle East in general. And while there have been numerous calls to both Ankara and Moscow to “stop building the tension,” no one has actually stepped in to shoulder real responsibilities or become an official interlocutor in this matter.

In the meantime, the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Syrian policies have completely collapsed. Global powers are waging war over and around the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and all the while, Ankara isn’t capable even of protecting the Turkmens of northern Syria.

While some of our leaders in Ankara felt close enough to Tehran not long ago to refer to the Iranian capital as their “second home,” it surprised no one to hear that in fact, Tehran was taking the side of Russia in the downed jet incident. The fact that Iran has openly decided to mirror Russia’s move on this matter indicates serious problems facing Turkey in the not-too-distant future.

And as this all unfolds, the dispatching of some 600 specially trained troops to Bashiqa near Mosul has opened the way to a further souring of relations between Ankara and the central Iraqi government in Baghdad. The Iraqi leadership’s insistence that it will go to the UN Security Council with a formal complaint if Turkey does not withdraw its troops within 48 hours indicates a very serious situation for Ankara.

ISIL’s presence in Iraq has created even more of a dangerous atmosphere than ever because the organization has occupied significant portions of Iraqi land, including, of course, Mosul. At the same time, though, Turkey recognizes not only the land unity of Iraq but also the legitimacy of the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. Ergo, sending troops into a country next door to you despite the wishes of the country’s government — which you recognize — is not something that can be easily explained away, especially on the international platform.

Already, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi promising that no new soldier units will be sent from Turkey into Iraq; this does not, however, appear enough to repair the already frayed relations between the two countries.

What exactly is the AKP’s foreign policy vision at this point? The answer to this question is key. Under the mantle of what the AKP’s calls an “active foreign policy,” Turkey has now been distanced from Europe and turned more into a part of the problems, polarizations and warlike chaos that plagues the Middle East. But why is this being done?

Labeling those who worriedly ask this question “traitors” does not change the cold, hard truth — and dangers — posed by this reality.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN