Sunday, June 22, 2008

CSIS Report on Turkish-US Relations

CSIS researchers Stephen Flanagan and Sam Brannen have authored a 19-page report entitled "Turkey's Shifting Dynamics: Implications for U.S.-Turkey Relations." The report is part of CSIS' U.S.-Turkey Strategic Initiative and provides a nice synopsis on Turkey's relations with the United States, Iraq, Central Asia, and Europe. Flanagan and Brannen conclude that Turkish politics will continue to be characterized by polarization or take an either neonationalist or Islamist direction. In the case of continued polarization, Turkish foreign policy will persist in unwieldly fashion, with Ankara's attention focused on domestic affairs. In the case that a neonationalist Turkey emerges, foreign policy might again be characterized by a strong alignment with the West, or more likely, become more isolationist and aggressive toward perceived internal and external enemies. If an Islamist focus begins to take stronger shape, we should expect a Middle East-focused policy akin to Refah. Flanagan and Brannen intimate it is then likely that Islamist movements will destabilize the southeast. Missing is a fourth, more hopeful option in which Turkey becomes more firmly anchored to Europe.

Most significantly, the report concludes that a strategic dialogue between Washington and Ankara is sorely needed so as to affirm a stronger relationship between the two countries that has in recent years been weakened thanks to divergent foreign policy concerns.

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