GIS Dossier: Turkey and the Middle East
Ankara is still groping for the right policy mix in dealing with complex challenges to Turkey’s vital interests in the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region. A paradigm change, however, diverting its geopolitical attention away from Europe and NATO and toward its historic neighborhood, is already evident.
Algeria: A European crisis in the making
Algeria's perennial problems are reaching crisis levels. The economic outlook is so dire that street violence is a distinct possibility. Its political scene is paralyzed by a seemingly endless succession crisis involving the ailing 78-year-old president, Abdulaziz Bouteflika. Legislative elections earlier this month did nothing to stop the drift. If unrest breaks out, a descent into civil war cannot be excluded, and Europe would face a new regional crisis of the first order.
Tunisia’s fragile transition
Tunisia’s fledgling democracy is on the right track, but social unrest, terrorism and a wobbly economy threaten its progress. Economic reforms to encourage investment – especially in oil and gas – would go a long way toward stabilizing the country, providing both jobs and government income.
Turkey: an awkward partner
As Turkey’s unstable internal politics have lurched toward repression, its foreign policy appears to have lost direction. The escalating war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has pushed resolution of the Kurdish question into the distant future, while terrorist strikes and a conflict with Russia have dragged Ankara deeper into the Syrian quagmire. Meanwhile, the suppression of voices critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised doubts about just how far the rule of law applies. Where is Turkey headed? This question is being asked in Brussels, Berlin and Washington. Since 2011, Turkish politics have been unpredictable.The answer matters because Turkey has a key role to play in any effort to resolve the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. In Western capitals, it is expected that Ankara will take a clear stance in the fight against Daesh, also known as Islamic State.
Syria’s future: the losers and winners
For all the confusion about Syria’s civil war, there’s no doubt about the big loser – the Syrian people. But nearly every regional power that has intervened to advance its own interests has also paid a heavy price, as has the European Union, a not-so-innocent bystander. For now, the most likely winners are the former Cold War antagonists, the United States and Russ...
Morocco gets its edge from soft power behind the throne
Morocco is one of the few countries to emerge from the Arab Spring with its international standing enhanced. Bolstered by the popular legitimacy of its monarch, King Mohammed VI, it has managed to avoid the disruptive political transitions seen in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Its economic reforms have attracted significant foreign investment. Yet continuing high rates...
New opportunity to get Turkey right emerges
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is back in the driver’s seat after his ruling party scored a decisive win in the November snap elections. While Mr Erdogan has never been a favourite of Western decision makers and opinion shapers, his renewed mandate makes him a useful partner in efforts to resolve the Syrian civil war and the migrant crisis that threatens to...
Pope Francis, diplomat extraordinaire
Whether navigating the Barque of Peter through the rough waters of international politics – or the even rougher waters of Church politics – Pope Francis is proving to be far more skilful and more adept than many of his detractors anticipated. In part, this is because he knows his own mind and refuses to be manipulated. If Francis has become a diplomat extraordinair...
Saudi Arabia considers how to recast foreign policy and rely less on US
Saudi Arabia’s relations with its Arab neighbours have been troubled since the state was founded in 1932. The kingdom’s territorial expansion, border disputes and export of Wahhabi Islam have all fed fears of Saudi political domination. Now that the decades-long alliance with Washington has cooled and the United States’ security umbrella has been at least partially...