Insight Turkey 2019/04

Insight Turkey 2019/04

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After the dismemberment of the Ottoman State, even though it lost a huge territory, Turkey chose not to pursue an irredentist foreign policy, and although it was a continuation of the Ottoman State, it did not want to maintain the Ottoman heritage. Instead the Republic of Turkey preferred to follow a pro status quo and a comprehensive Westernist foreign policy orientation. When the Soviet Union threatened Turkey in the wake of the Second World War, Turkey needed to officially be part of the Western world. Therefore, it had to accept the subordination to the liberal Western world and a dependent relationship with the United States due to the requirements of the bipolar world system. In spite of the vertical nature of this relationship, both sides benefitted from this strong and sustainable alliance relationship. On the one hand, the Western alliance provided security against the Soviet threat, military and economic support, and political advantages to Turkey. On the other hand, the Western countries gained a great deal from Turkey, who served as the most important NATO ally in the southeastern European front and hosted military air bases against threats coming from the east. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Turkey continued to be a strategic ally of the West. However, after the changes in the global balance of power, the weakening of the American leadership, and the more assertive and competitive foreign policies of other global powers such as Russia and China, Turkey has decided to search for greater autonomy in its region. Furthermore, the Western states’ policies, especially those of the U.S., have forced Turkey to follow a more independent foreign policy in order to be able to counter the increasing political instability in its regions. More specifically, the Western countries have preferred to collaborate with some anti-Turkish regional actors that threaten Turkey’s national security. Especially after the Western support for the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and the Syrian branch of PKK (YPG/PYD), both of which are considered as terrorist organizations by Turkey, the credibility of the Western countries has decreased dramatically in Turkey, leaving no other possible choice than questing for a more autonomous foreign policy. Thus, Turkey has begun to take necessary measures to search for a new and high-level status in the international system. Among others, Turkey has diversified its foreign economic relations and increased its material capacity. To this end, Turkey has begun to develop an Ankara-centered foreign policy and to oppose any developments that are detrimental to its national security. Turkey is still determined to maintain its alliance with the Western countries, but demands to revise the relationship, which became anachronic in the light of developments at a regional and global level. In its search for alternative partners and an independent foreign policy, Turkey has improved its relations with Russia, the main alternative challenger and balancer against the Western/American hegemony. For instance, when the Turkish offer to buy Patriots was rejected by the U.S government, Ankara reached a deal with Russia to buy S-400 missile defense systems. For many years now, Turkey has been asking for a comprehensive reformation in the international system and for a more inclusive approach in which multilateral international platforms such as the United Nations play a bigger role. Furthermore, since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, the power of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was consolidated. Three successful operations (Operation Euphrates Shield, Operation Olive Branch, and Operation Peace Spring) were undertaken in northern and northeastern Syria and as a result Turkey has strengthened its position in the Syrian conflict and prevented the projections of other actors involved in the crisis, thus indicating that it is a game changer in the region. Moreover, Turkey has recently initiated the Operation Claw in Northern Iraq against the PKK and has sent two drilling ships (Fatih and Yavuz) and one seismic ship (Barbaros) to the Eastern Mediterranean. In short, when forced, Turkey will be able to take unilateral measures to find solutions for the crises it may face in the future. Notwithstanding these developments, in principle, Turkey never questioned its longtime relations with the West. However, despite its membership of Western regional organizations like NATO, relationship with the Council of Europe and its EU membership process, the Western perception of Turkey has been extremely negative, and Western countries continue to take measures against Ankara. Fearing a loss control over Turkey, the Western powers have been trying to prevent Turkey’s quest for autonomy and punish any step taken in this regard. Furthermore, they have attempted to create an anti-Turkish regional bloc to contain Turkey’s regional effectiveness, i.e. the most recent rapprochement between Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. Lastly, Western countries consistently support anti-Turkish forces in the region, including terrorist groups. It should also be noted that, at a time of multi-dimensional and multi-layered global threats and challenges, there is a high level of interdependency between Turkey and its NATO allies. European defense still starts from Turkey, especially when it comes to international terrorism and international migration. Therefore, it is very difficult to initiate a paradigm shift in Turkish-West relations. The only way for both sides to overcome the conflictual issues is to accept the new realities and to redefine the alliance relations. On the one hand, the Western countries should accept the new role that Turkey is determined to play in its regions and take the Turkish security concerns into attention. On the other hand, Turkey needs to continue its contributions to the NATO operations and to challenge the threats emanating from the Middle East, since Ankara cannot confront the regional threats by itself. This new issue of Insight Turkey showcases the emergence of Turkey as a regional power in the changing international system and aims to guide readers through the assortment of obstacles within Turkey’s foreign policy and how Turkey’s new diplomacy has navigated the nation to a whole new international arena. Turkey, in a volatile region, has plumbed the depths of autonomy in its foreign policy for the last decade and this has resulted in trouble with Turkey’s strategic and NATO ally, the United States. Ali Balcı’s commentary elucidates the quest of Turkey’s autonomy in the Middle East, where the collaboration with Russia and Iran consolidates its quest. Considering Turkey’s partnership with different actors for more autonomy, Balcı elaborates that the interests of Turkey and the U.S. are clashing in a region, where Turkey is a subordinate actor. The Syrian civil war has been a cardinal phenomenon having defined Turkey’s relationships with its NATO ally, the U.S., and its neighbor and successor of the Soviet Union, Russia. William Hale canonically expounds how the U.S. has condoned Turkey’s security concerns, thereby allowing Turkey to work with Russia in order to ward off the eminent threats emerging from Syria such as ISIS and YPG/PKK. Furthermore, this commentary suggests the tense relationship between Turkey and the U.S. not be taken at face value. As mentioned early, Turkey has been asking for a comprehensive reformation in the international system. The famous motto: “The world is bigger than five,” made famous by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan highlights the increasing need to reform the international system in favor of justice and fair representation for all members of the UN. The lack of social, economic, or humanitarian elements practiced within global governance continues to divide nations between the ‘center’ and ‘periphery.’ Berdal Aral delves deeper into the meaning of this motto and how domestically this idea emerged with the AK Party’s use of morality in governance and connecting more international ties to poorer countries in Asia and Africa. President Erdoğan envisages a more just multipolar world against the damage being done from the privileged few on the Security Council, by reintroducing necessary reforms advocating for peace over power. The relationship between Russia and Turkey has been steadily improving since the fall of the Soviet Union. As cooperation continues to increase, a few hard internal and external challenges have tested whether the relationship between these two great powers can persevere over differing interests. The military-strategic threats these countries face is the main driving force maneuvering these two nations’ relationships. The greatest of these came in 2015 with the downing of the Russian SU-24 bomber aircraft over its violations of Turkish airspace, this example alone caused geopolitical escalations that were crucial to resolve diplomatically. Resolution has been found with partnership in Syria and over arms trade as Turkey sees Russia as a path of diversification away from the West. In this regard, Şener Aktürk explores the various challenges endured and the reaction Russia had to the various threats Turkey has faced in recent years. The Eastern Mediterranean has remained one of the main focus areas of international attention due to the abundant amount of gas reserves around the Levant and island of Cyprus. Lately, Turkey has made sure to show its presence in the region at a time when energy security here has been an increasing issue as global actors compete over resources in the area. Mehmet Efe Biresselioglu discusses Turkey’s position in the contested energy-rich region as it continues to secure its interests in North Cyprus and diversify its own energy. As Turkey maximizes its energy potential, the reactions from surrounding states and the EU has hindered any sense of fair resolution to all regional parties. The unresolved dispute over Cyprus and respect for territorial sovereignty continues to be an ongoing dilemma that can see constructive progress made if Turkey is seen as a strategic partner, and not a part of the problem. The Turkish Lira suffered one of its most severe economic shocks in 2018, sending waves of uncertainty of Turkey’s economic potential worldwide. Among speculation as to what factors inhibit economic shocks on the Turkish market, Nurullah Gür, Mevlüt Tatlıyer, and Şerif Dilek address the view that geopolitical issues and slowed down reform measures are the main culprits to the depreciation. With the decline of the currency against the dollar, the Turkish government swiftly set to decrease the inflation rate and instill real sector reforms with a developmentalist approach to remedy the situation. Turkey continues to develop financial alternatives with reducing reliance on imports and growing in the export market, learning to safeguard against economic shocks has been a testing ground for the Turkish economy in recent years. Murat Ülgül introduces the importance of personal diplomacy, and how it is an effective tool in the modern world, thus making it no surprise that it has increased in practice within Turkey. Ülgül contends that personal diplomacy explains Turkey’s foreign policy better as it is most effective in crisis periods, when there is dominant leadership, and when the political leader is confident about his/her ability to shape policies, all of which are applicable in Turkey. Turkish judiciary faced its biggest crisis on the night of July 15, 2016 during the coup attempt organized by FETÖ members who wanted to bring down the democratically elected government. They, however, did not succeed owing to the sturdy resistance of prosecutors and judges who were determined to uphold the rule of law against the coup-plotters. A prominent lawyer, Hüseyin Aydın, clarifies how the Turkish judiciary has even-handedly conducted the prosecution process since the night of July 15. Convulsed by unrest, Iran has returned to the center of the world’s attention. Farhad Rezaei explores Iran’s aim towards increasing their militarization, as a means of survival even at the cost of destabilizing its regional neighbors, and international discomfort. Dividing Iran’s military doctrine between ideological-political and military-technological, Iran propagates its own notion as an Islamic protectorate and compensates for its military shortcomings, like its relatively weak air force, by bolstering its ballistic sector. To measure Iran’s military-technology by taking inventory of Iran’s military weaponry shows that they are at a disadvantage in the international realm. Therefore, they frequently resort to asymmetrical warfare with the use of proxy groups and cyberwarfare, where they have found limited success. While Iran is likely to continue to develop its weaponry, it is disadvantaged by richer neighbors partnered with America, economic sanctions, and the fact that its intentions on growth are seen more as a threat than domestic development. The last piece of this issue brings attention to the Kashmir Crisis –a simmering conflict– which has long been glossed over by many countries and international organizations yet, it has to be addressed due to the human rights violations in the region. The Public Safety Act, which is a preventive detention law and required to comply with the international law, is used as a political tool to realize the objectives of authorities rather than its advocated primary aim of detaining people. Mohmad Aabit Bhat sheds a light on the covert intentions of the law, which has been “enforced” in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, with a discursive approach. These past years have been a challenging test for Turkish diplomacy, as fluctuating relationships and conflicting interests have been at the foreground, whether it’s in the warzone of Syria or on the international stage at the UN. Insight Turkey’s last issue for 2019 “Turkey’s New Foreign Policy: A Quest for Autonomy” analyses how Turkey with great stamina has proven that it is a strong cooperative player and balancer between the polarities of the world, as a voice for the oppressed and a pillar of strength among the dominant forces in the world.

Insight Turkey Sayı:01/2020 – The Ordeal of The Century

Insight Turkey Sayı:01/2020 – The Ordeal of The Century

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The Israeli-Palestinian question has been at the heart of Middle Eastern politics for the last 80 years. Although the Palestinian’s land has been one of the main subjects of international politics since the beginning of the 20th century, it was the unusual creation of the Israeli state in 1948 that led to many regional crises. Since then the Israeli state has been the instigator of many regional wars, continuous expansionism, discrimination, and violation of international law and basic human rights. Millions of Palestinians were forced to leave their country and those who preferred to stay were deprived of their rights. A special type of apartheid has been implemented by the Israeli state. All regional states and most global powers have been involved with this problem, which is not only between the aggressive Israeli nationalism and the defensive Palestinian nationalism, but also a conflict between the Israeli state and the Arab countries, a civilizational dispute between a pro-Israeli coalition and Muslim countries and a war that symbolizes the struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed. A number of international organizations have passed different resolutions offering solutions to the problem. Among them is the Islamic Cooperation Organization which was established following the many attacks against sacred places, notably the city of al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque, in Palestine. The international community represented by the United Nations (UN) has been calling on the Israeli state for decades to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories and to abide by the international rules and principles. As the UN resolutions, international law, and international public opinion expect, and Palestinians also aspire for, Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories, namely East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip and recognize an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution. However, global powers, especially the United States, have not allowed the UN to force the Israeli state to move out from the occupied territories and to restore peace in the region. In other words, the Palestinian people and Muslim nations have long witnessed the continuous Israeli fait accompli, the never-ending Palestinian suffering, the weakness of the Muslim Middle Eastern countries, and the indifference of the global powers. Israel continues to violate not only the rights of self-determination but also basic human rights for Palestinians. As one of the indications of this inhumane policy, the Gaza Strip has been under continuous Israeli blockade and attacks since 2006. Israel has been attacking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank intermittently, to expand its territories in order to establish new illegal Jewish settlements and squash any hope for Palestinian statehood. Israel’s large-scale attacks against the Gaza Strip in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2018, and 2019 have made conditions in Palestine unlivable. The latest attack in 2019 stopped with yet another cease-fire, however the fate of the most recent cease-fire is not different from the previous ones. Israel has never fulfilled its promises and cynically considers the cease-fire as a temporary process, allowing time to prepare for a new wave of violence. At a time when there is no will or strength in the Arab world to resist against any anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab development, the current Israeli and U.S. government is trying to legalize the years of Israeli atrocities, crimes against humanity, and violations of human rights. Most steps taken by these two governments contradict with and violate international norms and rules. First, the Israeli parliament adopted a law that is known as the “basic law” or “the nation-state act” in 2018. According to this law, the right to exercise national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people and thereby it denies Palestinian people any national rights or existence. Second, U.S. President Donald Trump’s unilateral recognition of the “united Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a pivotal point in the history of the Middle East, for both regional and global actors. This decision, with significant implications for the Middle Eastern politics, is not only about the transfer of the Israeli capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but also about the halt of the Middle Eastern peace process. Furthermore, it implicitly means that the U.S. supports the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland and the prevention of the establishment of a Palestinian state. In other words, the U.S. has contradicted its traditional policy and has abandoned the long-time advocated two-state solution. Third, contrary to basic rules of international law and a number of UN resolutions, the U.S. government announced that they do not consider the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as inconsistent with international law. The U.S. also stopped funding the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) and closed down the Washington D.C office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a body internationally recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people. With all these steps, the U.S. government demonstrated that it fully and unconditionally supports the Israeli state. Fourth, Trump has declared a so-called Middle East peace plan in January 28, 2020 after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz in Washington D.C. The U.S. government has ignored and violated all decisions made and resolutions passed by the UN regarding the issue, according to which the Israeli state is an occupier of the Palestinian land and violator of international rules and norms. Bearing in mind all these illegal steps, it can be said that the U.S. shares the responsibility with Israel for the violation of Palestinian rights. Achieving peace between the Israeli state and the Palestinian people appears to be unachievable, because the Israeli side does not take any Palestinian demands into consideration. All steps taken so far have been unilateral and against the interests of the Palestinians. The Deal of the Century is no exception; it is also a unilateral intervention to the question. Effectively, it is a dictation to the Palestinian-Israeli problem which ignores the realities on the ground. The timing of the Deal of the Century has to do with the current situation in the Arab world. As a matter of fact, today there is no political Arab world, since almost all heavyweight nationalist Arab states are in chaos, politically unstable or vulnerable. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia who claim the leadership of the Arab world are closely associated with the Trump Administration and the Israeli state. These two Arab states and the current Egyptian government support Israel rather than the Palestinians and blame Palestinian political groups instead of the Israeli state for the ongoing situation. These states condemn the retaliatory actions conducted by the Palestinians and remain silent about the inhumane treatment they suffer at the hands of the Israeli war machine. Consequently, there is no strong Arab state to defend the rights of Palestinians. For decades, Arab regimes have exploited the issue for domestic political legitimacy. Arab regimes who were afraid of their peoples tried to satisfy their demands by exaggerating the Israeli threat. Nowadays it appears that their fear of external powers is greater, which is why they capitulate to the demands of countries such as Israel and the U.S. and accordingly use the Palestinian issue in negotiations to their own benefit. However, Trump’s proclamation of the Deal of the Century caused fierce reaction from public opinion worldwide, especially from the Arab streets and Muslim communities. The Trump Administration miscalculated the civilian reaction. This time, it will be difficult to convince the Arab public, since it is much more aware than before about their regimes’ foreign policy behavior. Trump’s declaration, which contributed to the reunification of the Arab and Muslim peoples, satisfies only radical Christians and Zionist Jews. As long as the blockade on the Palestinian lands continues, the region will be subject to new waves of violence. Considering the unstable international system, ultra-nationalist, and xenophobic Western politics, chaotic regional atmosphere and Israeli domestic politics, it is not expected that the Israeli government will ease the blockade and give some rights to the Palestinians. Global powers such as the U.S. and the European Union not only close their eyes to the Israeli atrocities but also support its unequal and limitless violence. Even the UN has begun to warn “the two sides” about the escalation of violence, thus undervaluing the Israeli brutality by equating it with the small retaliatory actions of the Palestinains. Therefore, it can be said that there is currently no deterrent power in the world that is preventing Israeli aggression. Only a significant change in the regional and global balance of power will bring considerable changes in Israeli policies towards the region. This new issue of Insight Turkey highlights different subjects regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Some of the leading and well-known intellectuals and academicians from Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Europe, and the United States contributed to this issue focusing of different dimensions of the problem. From a religious perspective, more particularly in Islam, the status and significance of Bayt al-Maqdis, the city of al-Quds, which is one of the main themes of the problem, must be acknowledged. Ikrime Sa’eed Sabri’s commentary explains the significance of Bayt al-Maqdis by addressing the close bonds, namely the bonds of creed, worship, civilization and culture, and history which are firm ties that link Muslims to Bayt al-Maqdis and the land of Palestine. The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has faced many different obstacles since the United Nations resolved to partition Palestine into two separate states, Jewish and Arab. Galia Golan addresses these obstacles between Israel and Palestine as well as possibilities for peace, primarily the pragmatic 1988 PLO decision to create a new state, next to the state of Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem. She discusses the possibilities of achieving a political peaceful co-existence in Palestine and finds it quite challenging. The commentary written by Victor Kattan examines the legality of the Israeli settlements and occupations in the West Bank, based on the perspective of international law and U.S. foreign policy. He analyzes the motives of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to initiate an investigation into the alleged war crimes committed in Palestine by the Israeli state, which include Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. “Is the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict achievable?” is the question that Ian Lustic seeks to answer. In his opinion, this solution is a pretty picture of the future that only good people can imagine. Meanwhile, it remains just that, a picture, because there is a lack of effort to conduct negotiations between the Israeli state and the Palestinian people. This lack of effort is mainly related to the nature of negotiations which have become highly provocative in recent years. The influx of immigrant Jewish communities from different countries to Israel has disenfranchised the Palestinians from their land. Although, Israel claims that it offers democratic rights for all its citizens, in reality Palestinians have nothing. Ran Greenstein conceptualizes this situation by comparing the Israeli policies with the practice of apartheid in South Africa. He identifies the policies practiced by Israel as “apartheid of a special type” and a crime against humanity. To reveal how the status of the original Palestinian population has been ignored, Elia Zureik highlights the Israeli practices of governance in Palestine and how the Zionist movement and later the Israeli state have worked to kill the dream of the Palestinian people for their own state. This has been achieved through passing racially biased laws that discriminate against the native population, and using violence when enforcing those laws, especially after the Israeli state codified its new citizenship law that defines Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Ayfer Erdoğan and Lourdes Habash question the continuity of the U.S. policy making towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially under the Trump Administration. The results show that there hasn’t been a radical change throughout the administrations; however, the U.S. position in the conflict has become more transparent with a sharper pro-Israel tilt during the Trump Administration. Hamas has a dual role in the political and military struggle against the Israeli state on one hand and Fatah in Palestinian politics on the other. Although Hamas has had many achievements, since its establishment in the late 1980s, it has also failed in many aspects. To understand why, Nasuh Uslu and İbrahim Karataş evaluate this dualist struggle of Hamas in Palestine. The authors conclude that since Hamas has been otherized by many international actors, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and some international actors contributed more to this struggle. However, Hamas is still expected to fulfill the needs of Palestinians. In addition to these eight articles, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, there are some insightful pieces on a range of topics regarding Turkey and international politics. The transformation of international education with a Turkey-centric perspective strengthens Turkey’s cultural diplomacy and soft power. This transformation is led by different sub-governmental and non-governmental organizations. One of the leading actors is the Turkish Maarif Foundation. In their commentary, Birol Akgün and Mehmet Özkan contextualize the foundation’s foreign and domestic policy and outline a vision through evaluating activities over the past three years. The principle of “the more corrupt the country, the less democratic it is likely to be” can be measured in the Balkan countries. Sabrina P. Ramet in her article addresses problems that the Balkan countries are facing, such as corruption, unemployment, and poverty. With regard to the events of the Gulf Crisis, Farhan Mujahid Chak deconstructs the reasons and motives behind the quartet’s blockade on Qatar. To do so, he employs post-colonialism variables, assuming that the preponderance of the U.S. military power in the Gulf Cooperation Council produces competing ‘projects’ in the Middle East. He underlines three conflicting ideal types: subservient, resisting/increasing, and pivoting from engagement to resisting the American hegemony. The article written by Nur Köprülü takes us back to the events of when the public protests engulfed most Arab regimes in 2011. However, she focuses on how the democratization processes in the MENA region led to the empowerment of the Islamist actors after decades of political exclusion. Hence, within a domestic and regional context shaping the politics of Islamist parties, Köprülü explores different trajectories of two countries in the region, the inclusion of Islamists in the case of Tunisia and their exclusion in the case of Jordan. In the last piece of this issue, Krizza Janica Mahinay analyzes the shift of the Moro National Liberation Movement (MNLF) in the discourse on Malaysia and the ramifications of this new discourse within the Philippine state. She elaborates this shift through the lens of power relations and foreign policy, taking into account the struggle for legitimacy within the Philippines. Through a wide range of commentaries and articles, this issue of Insight Turkey aims to bring to its readers a comprehensive framework on the current situation of the Israeli-Palestinian question. Whether there will be a deal to this problem remains a difficult question to be answered. Currently one thing is clear, that the plan declared by the Trump Administration, which was welcomed by Israel and some of its Arab allies, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, assures the Palestinian people the continuation of their century long ordeal.

Insight Turkey 2015​ ​- Spring 2015 (Vol. 17, No. 2)

Insight Turkey 2015​ ​- Spring 2015 (Vol. 17, No. 2)

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Publisher: SET Vakfı İktisadi İşletmesi

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Category: Political Science

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Energy security, at the heart of energy policy, has become central to the dynamics of international relations. Political turmoil has overwhelmed many oil and gas producing countries, forcing them to adapt their national energy policies according to this continuous change. Specifically, because of the wars and instability in the Middle East and the Ukrainian crisis, global energy security is no longer guaranteed. One of the foremost experts on the energy industry, Daniel Yergin, identifies energy security as “the availability of sufficient supplies at affordable prices.” He also comments that every country interprets the definition of energy security with its own dynamics. In practice, the definition of energy security is polysemic and the topic of energy security is being explored daily, under the lens of numerous new studies, by scholars, energy experts, government officials, activists, and journalists.

Insight Turkey 2018​ ​- Winter 2018 (Vol. 20, No.1)

Insight Turkey 2018​ ​- Winter 2018 (Vol. 20, No.1)

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Today, the world system is in a transition and experiencing a deep international crisis. The U.S. has begun to oppose the basic international institutions such as the United Nations and its subsidiary organs and specialized agencies, even though most of these were established with American motivation. The hegemon state, the U.S., has been alienating most of its partners and even allies. The U.S. governments have begun to focus on the national setting and to underestimate the international one; to favor unilateral policies over multilateral ones. The presidency of Donald Trump has expedited this process. American rejection of providing global public goods such as international security and free trade has led to a systemic crisis. The relative decline of American power coincides with the persistent rise of China. Those who claim that the days of Pax-Americana are numbered assert that the rise of China will determine the future of the world system. China has begun to expand its influence worldwide. For this purpose it has established alternative political and economic international institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Furthermore, China leads the establishment of some other international organizations as well. BRICS is only one of these formations challenging the political hegemony of the West, led by the U.S. One of the most promising Chinese projects is the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Project, aspiring to connect the East (China) to the West (the world markets). It is expected that, on its completion, the OBOR Project will take China to the center of the world economy and politics. China has been the fastest growing economy in the world for the last thirty years. Its share of the world trade has increased dramatically, recording the highest share in world exports for several years. China has been enjoying economic transactions with all major international actors with more than 200 partners in exports and imports. However, in terms of per capita income China still lags behind the advanced Western countries. Furthermore, according to the calculations made by the World Bank and IMF, Chinese per capita income is still lower than the world average. China recently began to invest in the political and military sphere in the non-Western world. It has military bases in its near abroad and in the African continent. That is, Chinese economic influence and technological leadership is supported by its political and military power. In spite of the increase in Chinese military and political might, it is careful not to challenge the U.S. and the West. There are several reasons for this policy. First of all, China is aware of its vulnerabilities. It suffers some economic and political inconsistencies and weaknesses. For instance, it has to fortify its regional dominance first in the South China Sea and achieve its longtime one-China policy as a precondition for a possible global hegemony. Second, China wants to win the global rivalry without resorting to war with the current hegemon. Therefore, Chinese leaders refrain from opposing the American hegemony politically. Even though it has introduced some international institutions, the Chinese leadership does not propose a political and diplomatic alternative to the West. It will take time for China to offer a full-scale global leadership alternative to the world, since the global hegemony requires not only economic and military power but also values and norms for cultural hegemony. Lastly, China is not ready to take the global responsibility, since it brings high costs. As long as the current American hegemony works in favor of China, there is no need for China to change the course of its development. In the light of these developments, this issue of Insight Turkey focuses on some of the most important topics related to China’s persistent rise in the international system. More specifically, this issue postulates on how to read and understand China’s policies towards global powers, i.e. the U.S. and Russia, and regional powers, i.e. India and Turkey. Africa has once again returned to the attention of the global powers after being left for many years in the shadow of western politics. In recent years, Africa has become the center of China’s public, economic and military diplomacy. As it may be expected, China’s investments in Africa are not totally ‘welcomed’ by the U.S. Earl Conteh-Morgan in his commentary focuses on the strategic rivalry between China and the U.S. in Africa. Conteh-Morgan argues that their rivalry has progressed from mild to intense, with both powers increasing their activities on the continent and decreasing Africa’s erstwhile marginalization. Another rivalry that shapes China’s foreign policies in the region is that with India. Especially, since the Doklam Plateau incident in mid-2017, the expectation of a possible tension between the two regional powers is ever present. Taking this into consideration Bruno Maçães, in his commentary, ponders the economic and strategic rivalry between China and India along with a number of dimensions: infrastructure, border disputes, sea power, and trade.

Insight Turkey 2016​ ​-Summer 2016 (Vol. 18, No.3)

Insight Turkey 2016​ ​-Summer 2016 (Vol. 18, No.3)

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The date of July 15, 2016 is a watershed in the history of democracy as well as in the history of Turkey. On the night of July 15, the world witnessed an exceptional and historic event. The Turkish people heroically stood up against the brutal coup plotters; they became an example for other peoples on how to defend your nation and on what is the real meaning of national self-determination. At the same time, they gave a valuable lesson to the Western governments on how to support a democratically elected government. But more than anything, Turkish people proved to themselves that it is they who decide for themselves, for their future. After all, isn’t that what democracy is all about? The memory of what happened on July 15 will never be erased from the minds and hearts of the people who were in Turkey that night. We all lost someone on the night of July 15 –a mother, a father, a child, a friend or someone that we did not even know but we broke into tears when we saw them giving their life for this country.

Insight Turkey 2020/04 - The Future of The Libyan Crisis

Insight Turkey 2020/04 - The Future of The Libyan Crisis

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Libya is one of the most important regional actors in the Middle East and North Africa region in terms of its geographical location and geostrategic importance. In 2011, Qaddafi was ousted from power raising the hopes of the Libyan people for a democratic regime. Unfortunately, Libya, one of the most interesting fronts of the Arab insurgencies and revolutions, has disintegrated into a severe civil war and a regional crisis. The reasons behind this are both internal and external. While the clash between the state, non-state, and armed actors within Libya have threated the internal stability, the intervention of some regional and global actors has incited the conflict further. Authoritarian regimes and pro status-quo states such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have been against the Arab uprisings as they did not want the will of the people to be reflected in the Middle East and Arab countries’ administrations. Within this context, these states did not allow the emergence of an encompassing and pluralist political structure in Libya. Furthermore, most international and regional powers such as France, Russia, and the United States have also been supporting this authoritarian coalition. Haftar, who had little influence during the revolution and lived outside of Libya for a long time, attempted a military coup in 2014 by rejecting the authorities of legitimate political actors in the country, with the support of these states. The Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognized as the only legitimate representative of the Libyan state and people by many international institutions, most notably the United Nations, suppressed Haftar’s coup attempt. However, the abovementioned states continue to invest in Haftar’s forces. After having amassed enough armed forces with the support of a large coalition of states, Haftar launched a comprehensive military attack to take over the capital city of Tripoli in April 2019, to offset-up another autocratic regime in Libya. While everyone saw the capital Tripoli passing into the hands of Haftar as inevitable and only a matter of time,turning a blind eye to the situation, Turkey stepped in and upset all the calculations. As a result, Turkey increased its presence in Libya after two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed with the GNA in November 2019. With these two memorandums, Turkey has determined and declared its sea border in the Eastern Mediterranean and made a commitment to the GNA. Accordingly, when needed and requested by GNA, Turkey is ready to provide all kinds of military support. Especially since January 2020, Turkey has supported the GNA militarily and financially in its struggle against Haftar. The GNA forces supported by Turkey defeated the Haftar troops and forced them to withdraw from a large area in the Western part of the country. Turkey, which has altered the whole balance of power in Libya within a short time with the new dynamics, has changed the course of the crisis and the civil war in the country. Haftar and his supporters, who preferred only military methods, had to declare a unilateral ceasefire and to sit down at the diplomatic negotiation table. At the same time, Turkey persuaded some countries that are flirting with both sides to strengthen their relationship with the GNA. Developments in Libya directly influence Turkey, since Libya is a very important country for Turkey in the context of both the history of bilateral relations as well as the regional balance of power. Therefore, since the first days of the revolution, Turkey has been in close relations with the legitimate actors in order to protect the territorial integrity and political independence of the Libyan state. With its support both in the conflict area and at the negotiating table, Turkey ensured that the GNA remains an effective actor. Thus, Turkey has prevented the persons and groups which are under the control of the anti-Turkish coalition during the post-Arab spring period. On the other hand, Turkey has negated all anti-Turkey moves, formations, and processes within the newly emerged strategic regional equation. In this sense, the legitimate Libyan government came to the fore as a regional actor that it can work with. After signing a ceasefire agreement in October 2020, in Geneva, the political peace talks started under the auspices of the United Nations acting envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams, and the warring sides have reached a preliminary agreement to a roadmap for elections. The two rival sides have agreed to hold both parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2021. If the process is completed successfully, the future of the country will be determined after these elections hopefully with an end to the discord in the country. The Libyan issue is a complex crisis with which many local, regional, and global actors have become involved. Therefore, the resolution of the crisis will only be possible with international consensus. In order to solve the crisis, a negotiation process must begin after securing a sustainable ceasefire agreement, all segments of the Libyan society must be included, and the two sides must reconcile on civil and democratic principles. Only then can a reconstruction of the state and a reform process in political, economic and security spheres be initiated. This issue of Insight Turkey focuses on underscoring both promises of internal reconstruction and challenges fueled by different external actors intervening in the Libyan crisis. This latest issue includes five commentaries and three insightful research articles that explore the Libyan conflict from different perspectives. While some pieces focus on the role of different actors in the crisis, others analyze the reconstruction efforts. While the civil war has pitted Libyans against each other, foreign interventions have hindered the resolution of the civil war. In this regard, Yahia H. Zoubir’s commentary presents a coherent framework of the foreign powers involved in the Libyan conflict and their interests. Zoubir argues that unless those foreign powers have achieved their goals in Libya, an end to the civil war anytime soon remains unlikely. Talha Köse and Bilgehan Öztürk provide a rigorous analysis of the external interventions in Libya and the logic behind each intervention, between offensive, defensive, opportunistic, or ideological. Understanding the full picture in Libya requires us to fully grasp the Turkish role and motivation for the Libyan conflict. To do so, İsmail Numan Telci underlines the factors and challenges that made it difficult for Turkey to implement its peaceful plans in Libya and argues that Turkey will continue to be an active supporter of peace and stability in the country. Tarek Megerisi briefly analyzes Europe’s relations with post-revolutionary Libya and European policies on Libya to conclude by stating that a continuing struggle between the EU member states over how to handle the new world, that is emerging in the wake of the pax-Americana, is also exposed in European policy on Libya. Ali Bakir’s article aims to discuss the United Arab Emirates’ interventions in Libya in terms of their nature, extent, motives, goals, and repercussions. Bakir tries to answer the questions of why Abu Dhabi has been able to act with impunity in Libya despite being the top foreign player fueling the war there for many years, and whether it will be able to achieve its goals and continue its interventions in Libya or not. France, while actively allying with the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, has aggressively confronted Turkey and undermined the internationally recognized Libyan Government of National Accord. On this basis, Timothy Reid seeks to examine the premises of the French policy toward Libya and its real intentions behind these actions. Guma el-Gamaty highlights the strong foundations and drivers for the Turkish-Libyan strategic alliance which allowed Turkey eventually to provide timely and decisive support for the legitimate Government of National Accord. He argues that the Turkish strategic relationship and cooperation with Libya over the coming decades will contribute to lasting peace as well as institution and state-building. Based on empirical evidence, Shatha Sbeta and Mohamed Abufalgha advocate for a comprehensive framework to address the political, economic, and social challenges facing Libya. Their proposal draws a clear roadmap that begins with establishing trust and extending the authority of the government across the Libyan territory. Murat Aslan, focusing on state, non-state, and armed actors, analyses Libya’s post-Qaddafi fragile state structure and struggles to build the internal order. He argues that these actors pose a repeating and paradoxical dilemma in which the root causes can be scrutinized by investigating the security culture inherited from Qaddafi’s regime. Four off-topic manuscripts conclude this issue of Insight Turkey. This issue places a special emphasis on the insurmountable deadlock that tackled the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict resolution process. Farid Shafiyev and Vasif Huseynov in their off-topic commentary assert that this deadlock is due to the failure of the peace negotiations brokered by different actors to deliver any progress as well as the constant provocations of Armenian military and political leaders, which eventually led to the outbreak of an almost full-scale war on September 27, 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, refugees are in constant danger because they live in highly congested environments. Within this context, Mahmood Monshipouri, Burcu Akan Ellis, and Cassidy Renee Yip call for a new approach to cope with the pandemic while arguing that helping refugees to curb the spread of the current coronavirus cannot be divorced from social contexts. Lukáš Tichý, Jan Mazač, and Zbyněk Dubský present a modified concept of the EU actorness in energy relations and deals with the identification of its criteria. Based on a predefined methodology, the article also analyses dimensions of actorness in the external energy relations with Algeria. Written by Shamkhal Abilov, Ceyhun Mahmudlu, and Natig Abdullayev, the last research article focuses on the dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the delimitation of the Caspian Sea. This article aims to find out whether the new Convention of 2018 on the status of the Caspian Sea resolved the long-standing dispute and to assess the potential of implementing the Trans Caspian Pipeline under the new conditions. With one more year coming to an end, we are pleased to present to our readers yet another insightful issue of Insight Turkey that aims to bring the Libyan crisis to the attention of the politicians, intellectuals, and academicians. With the hope that you will find this issue informative and interesting, we are looking forward to providing you with more next year.

Insight Turkey 2015​ ​- Summer 2015 (Vol. 17, No. 3)

Insight Turkey 2015​ ​- Summer 2015 (Vol. 17, No. 3)

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Publisher: SET Vakfı İktisadi İşletmesi

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Category: Political Science

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In a radio broadcast in 1939 Winston Churchill defined Russia in a famous quip as ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.’ The chain of metaphors in Churchill’s famous maxim was to point the difficulty of making sense of the great political transformation Russia had gone through. Though perplexed, Churchill had a key to solve the Russian riddle: the national interest or more precisely ‘historic-life interests.’ The ‘new Middle East’ is also a riddle inside an enigma rolled up in a puzzle mat. The former is difficult to grasp even with metaphors. The national interest is not a ‘key’ either, for it appears more of a political ploy than an analytical edifice that can hardly be applicable to the haplessly artificial regional states. The enigma of the ‘Arab Spring,’ the mystery of the ISIL, the riddle of Russian intervention in Syria and the puzzle of Turkish national interests in the Middle East are few items in the long list of explanandum.

Insight Turkey 2017​ ​-​ ​Spring 2017 (Vol. 19, No.2)

Insight Turkey 2017​ ​-​ ​Spring 2017 (Vol. 19, No.2)

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Publisher: SET Vakfı İktisadi İşletmesi

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Category: Political Science

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The Spring 2017 issue of Insight Turkey aims at analyzing some of the most debated issues during the 15 years rule of the AK Party. Foreign and domestics policies, political economy, Turkey-EU relations and the Kurdish issue are among the topics discussed in this issue.

Insight Turkey 2015​ ​- Fall 2015 (Vol. 17, No. 4)

Insight Turkey 2015​ ​- Fall 2015 (Vol. 17, No. 4)

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Publisher: SET Vakfı İktisadi İşletmesi

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Category: Political Science

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Last year was the year of elections in Turkey with two parliamentary elections and months-long electoral campaigns that dominated the political agenda of the country. The parliamentary elections of June 7, 2015 brought an end to the AK Party’s 12-year long era of parliamentary majority and single-party government in Turkey. Nevertheless, the endeavors to form a coalition government could not be concluded successfully and another election appeared on the horizon. The country was ruled by an AK Party-led interim government and the elections were repeated five months later on November 1, 2015. While close in time, the two elections were quite distant with regard to the political contexts in which they were carried out, and in their respective results. The November elections witnessed a comeback for the AK Party, which increased its votes by over 9 points with the addition of five million new votes in the ballot box.

Insight Turkey 2016​ ​- Fall 2016 (Vol. 18, No.4)

Insight Turkey 2016​ ​- Fall 2016 (Vol. 18, No.4)

Author: Muhittin Ataman

Publisher: SET Vakfı İktisadi İşletmesi

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Category: Political Science

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Turkey has been holding elections since the end of the 19th century; and the country has been enjoying democratic elections since 1950. With a well-established electoral system, both local and general elections in Turkey are held in peace and stability. While there is no debate about the freeness, fairness and transparency of the elections, there are always some discussions about the representation problem such as the real power of politicians, the national threshold for political parties to be able to send their representatives to the parliament and the lack of instruments to overcome political crises. Turkey’s search for a new system of government dates back to the 1970s. The parliamentary system’s shortcomings such as political turmoil caused by the coalition rule and political crises fueled by the president’s selection by the parliament have been the driving force behind the debate over the governmental system. Furthermore, the fractured nature of political parties and clashes between different ideological and ethnic groups caused political instability which resulted in the military and bureaucratic tutelague.

Insight Turkey 2018​ ​- Spring 2018 (Vol. 20, No.2)

Insight Turkey 2018​ ​- Spring 2018 (Vol. 20, No.2)

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Publisher: SET Vakfı İktisadi İşletmesi

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Category: Political Science

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The Gulf is a sub-region consisting of Saudi Arabia and five small states, namely Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. This sub-region emerged after the British recognized the independence of the above-mentioned small entities between 1961 and 1971. Having an abundant amount of natural resources, i.e. oil and natural gas, the Gulf States are among the richest countries in the world; therefore, they do not share the poverty and political instability widely found in the Middle East. The Gulf is a sub-region consisting of Saudi Arabia and five small states, namely Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. This sub-region emerged after the British recognized the independence of the above-mentioned small entities between 1961 and 1971. Having an abundant amount of natural resources, i.e. oil and natural gas, the Gulf States are among the richest countries in the world; therefore, they do not share the poverty and political instability widely found in the Middle East. The sub-region was institutionalized with the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981 as a result of three important regional developments –the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. The GCC was mainly designed as a security institution to counter regional threats emanating from the other side of the Persian Gulf, namely Iran. However, after the invasion of Kuwait, by Saddam’s Iraq, the Gulf States became alarmed and asked the United States to protect their political independence against all regional threats. After the collapse of the Cold War, the Gulf States initiated a process of regional integration and significant steps were taken to achieve a monetary and economic union. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the Gulf States decided to introduce “al-khaleeji” as the common currency. However, this promising process was halted with the eruption of the Arab uprisings and revolutions. The Arab uprisings have imposed the greatest threat to the unity of the Gulf. For the first time in their history, the Gulf States began to be challenged politically from not only external threats but also internal dynamics. The process of sweeping changes throughout the Middle East instigated great concern in the Gulf, the most pro-status quo states in the region. During the first two years, 2011-2013, the Gulf States tried to follow a defensive policy against the powers of change. They strived to keep the wave of uprisings away from the Gulf. After they had overcome their shock and confusion, they began to take initiatives to intervene into the regional crises. Some of the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, organized a military coup against the region’s first and only democratically elected government of Muhammad Morsi, placing Egypt in an economically and politically vulnerable position. Furthermore, these two countries interfered into the domestic affairs of other regional states in crisis such as Libya, Yemen and Lebanon. They succeeded in turning the “Arab Spring” into an “Arab Winter” by eliminating, de-legitimizing and weakening the carriers of reform, the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, throughout the Arab world. Thus, indirectly they suppressed the moderate non-state actors in favor of radical actors and terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia and the UAE went further and tried to redesign the region through their ambitious regional policies. Encouraged by the United States and Israel, they gained the support from countries that are dependent on their petro-dollars such as Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan. These two states attempted to lead both the Arab and Muslim worlds; and therefore, mobilized their only asset, billions of petro-dollars, to buy influence in the region. In order to be able to lead the Arab world, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had to delegitimize the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated groups and political parties –the main carriers of popular demonstrations throughout the Arab world. Therefore, they declared all these political groups and social movements as “terrorist organizations.” They even attempted to ostracize those regional countries, i.e. Turkey and Qatar that support these popular movements, while at the same time forcing other countries to support their regional policies. The first target was Qatar; the Arab state most open to liberal values and diversity. In 2014, Saudi Arabia and the UAE forced Qatar to cut its relations with regional non-state actors such as the Brotherhood and Hamas, but the Obama Administration did not allow Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to instigate a crisis. However, after Trump came to power, these two states reintroduced the crisis and imposed their blockade against Qatar. Nevertheless, with the strong support of Turkey and Iran, two significant regional powers, the policy of Saudi Arabia and the UAE has failed. As a result, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have shattered the unity of not only the Arabs but also that of the Gulf. While Oman maintained its neutral position, by following an active neutrality policy and playing a mediating role, Kuwait tried to prevent the breakup of the Gulf region. Although it has not declared so publicly, Kuwait rejects the regional design attempts by the Saudi and Emirati governments. To lead the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia led the foundation of the so-called “Islamic Military Alliance” comprising of more than 50 nations. However, it became clear in a short time period that this attempt was not a real Islamic alliance to bring stability to the region, but a measure to fortify a Sunni bloc against Iranian regional expansionism. That is, Saudi Arabia tried to utilize the Sunni Islamic understanding for its regional policies. It is not difficult to claim that Saudi Arabia and the UAE will not be able to realize this project. The possibility of ending up with the disillusionment of the Arab and Muslim streets and alienation of some Sunni countries is quite high. Overall the project, which has been executed with the support of the U.S. and Israel, is an attempt to deepen the sectarian strife between Shias and Sunnis and it will not bring political stability or peace to the region. In conclusion, in order to protect themselves against regional threats and to establish a balance of power against other regional powers, the small Gulf States must form military alliances and political institutions with other regional countries. First, they need to maintain the unity of the Gulf. Second, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi should encourage other regional actors to contribute to the regional stability. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have to end the Qatari crisis, a lose-lose crisis manufactured by these two states, since it is undermining the sub-region’s security and economic outlook. Third, the Gulf States must keep the sub-region as the island of political and economic stability in the chaotic Middle East and contribute to the gradual and peaceful reconstruction of the region. To achieve this objective, the Gulf States must stop using conflicting political discourses. Considering all these important developments, the Gulf region has attracted a lot of attention among the scholars and Insight Turkey, through this special issue, aims to cover some of the main topics such as the Qatari crisis, the rise of sectarianism, the foreign policies of the pro-status quo countries and the relations of these states with Turkey. The situation in the Gulf region gets more complicated as time passes and the division between blocks has started to become deeper. Ufuk Ulutaş and Burhanettin Duran provide a comprehensive analysis of all of the actors, including here global and regional ones, which are currently included in the Gulf affairs. Without any doubt, the Qatari crisis has played a decisive role in manifesting the existing regional rifts. In the light of this, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen and Marwan Kabalan focus on this crisis, which started with the blockade of Qatar by the so-called Quartet, i.e. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. With a special focus on the Gulf and U.S. policies respectively, both of the authors provide valuable insights regarding the crisis and the future of the Gulf. The main division in the region comes as a result of the rise of sectarianism, which has transformed into local sectarian and regional geopolitical confrontations among some Gulf States –mainly Saudi Arabia and the UAE– and Iran. Emad Kaddorah, in his commentary, argues that the regional conflict over the Gulf region is geo-sectarian, meaning that it is a geopolitical contest, which has recently been engulfed by a sectarian dimension. Saudi Arabia remains one of the main actors in the region and it deserves special attention. The articles of Simon Mabon and May Darwich help to better understand the domestic and foreign policies of Saudi Arabia. Mabon looks at the actions of the new crown prince to explore the impact of Bin Salman’s influence on both the Kingdom and the Middle East more broadly. On the other hand, Darwich analyzes the Saudi intervention in Yemen, a war that many have started to consider as “Saudis Vietnam war.” More specifically, May Darwich offers an alternative explanation for the abrupt Saudi aggressiveness toward Yemen and argues that this intervention is driven by the Saudi leadership aims to assert the Kingdom’s status as a regional power in the Middle East. Despite Saudi Arabia, the UAE is another important actor in the region, whose impact is underestimated. By focusing on the military bases built by the UAE in the Horn of Africa, İsmail Numan Telci and Tuba Öztürk Horoz provide an explanation on the real motivations behind the Emirati foreign policies which have started to focus more on hard power, a deviation from the perpetual foreign policies of the other Gulf States. Amidst the shattering order of the Gulf, Turkey has pursued a careful and balancing policy, finding itself sided neither with the Saudi-led block, nor with the Iranian-led block. At this point it is important to understand the background of the Turkey-GCC states relations and Özden Zeynep Oktav in her article brings a detailed analysis of the root causes that led to the policy divergences between Turkey, and some GCC states, i.e. Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This special issue of Insight Turkey includes five off-topic pieces, which indeed are closely related with the Gulf affairs. In his commentary, M. Akif Kireçci, focuses on the initiatives undertaken by Turkey after Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and how the divided Gulf States left aside their disparities to protect the rights of Palestinians against this fallacious decision. The article of Osama Anter Hamdi complements Kireçci’s commentary, as the author provides a comprehensive analysis of the American foreign policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict since the establishment of the Israeli state. Iran, of course, deserves special attention as the foreign policies of the Gulf States are mostly designed to balance the Iranian influence in the region. The three remaining articles of the issue deal with U.S. Iranian relations, the nuclear deal and how Iran and Turkey serve as a model of emulation for other states in the region. Written by İmran Demir, Farhad Rezaei, and Ibrahim Khatib and As’ad Ghanem, respectively, these three articles are worth reading in order to better understand the Iranian policies. “The Gulf on the Verge: Ambitions, Crises and Shattering Order,” provides timely analyses for a region that once again has become the linchpin of global affairs. We are confident that this issue of Insight Turkey will be a great contribution to the Gulf studies.