Under this program title, EDAM explores two main subjects: Transatlantic Security and Relations, which mainly looks into Turkey-US and EU-US relations; and Turkish Foreign Policy, which delves into Turkey's relations with global and regional actors, the relations with international institutions such as the UN.
Can Kasapoğlu, 11 February 2017
Turkish forces and Turkey-backed FSA elements stand at the door of al-Bab, a paramount, if not the ultimate, objective of Operation Euphrates Shield now in its 170th day. With its recent successful breakthrough operations, Operation Euphrates Shield forces have altered the outlook of the battlespace and obtained very advantageous ground for pushing deeper into ISIS-held areas. The al-Bab campaign will now transform into urban operations as predicted in earlier EDAM analysis.
Yet Turkey now faces a significant risk of encountering Syrian Baathist forces on the battlefield, which have marched towards al-Bab from their positions in the south. Whether the opposing forces will act in unison against their common enemy will determine the scale of Turkey’s military exposure in Syria.
Can Kasapoglu, Sinan Ulgen, 16 January 2017
This policy paper penned by EDAM Defense Analyst Can Kasapoglu and EDAM Chairman Sinan Ulgen, provides a comprehensive military and political analysis of Turkey’s cross border military operation in Syria currently targeting the Islamic State held city of al-Bab. In their evaluation, the authors maintain that Operation Euphrates Shield stems from Ankara’s political – military necessities and defense imperatives of securing operational depth to confront the rocket threat posed by ISIS terrorist organization, as well as to prevent the PKK terrorist organization – and its PYD / YPG affiliates in Syria – from establishing a fait accompli situation along Turkey’s borders. They also emphasize that the operation was a necessity for Turkey’s domestic and international security prospects. Ulgen and Kasapoglu also analyze the critical elements of success. They also state that the Operation Euphrates Shield and the al-Bab campaign have brought about certain differences of opinion between Turkey and the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. The divergences are mainly rooted in disagreements on the PKK terrorist organization’s affiliates in Syria (PYD/YPG), the depth of the campaign, as well as its timing.
Can Kasapoglu, Doruk Ergun, 27 May 2016
The threat landscape that Turkey faces against ISIS’ rocket campaign, terror attacks in population centers and an urban low-intensity conflict with the PKK, has been further complicated by the introduction of advanced man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) into the scene. The PKK downed a Turkish AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter with an advanced SA-18 Russian/Soviet made MANPADS on May 13, 2016, marking the first use of advanced third-generation MANPADS by the terrorist organization. Such systems pose significant threats to both military and commercial aviation. Now with the threat of advanced MANPADS proliferation and trafficking, Turkey’s low intensity conflict may be metastasizing into hybrid warfare, which necessitates an overhauled political-military response and adaptation.
Can Kasapoğlu, Doruk Ergun, 16 March 2016
Just as its decision to intervene, Russia’s decision to withdraw from Syria has come abruptly. What Moscow means by the withdrawing the “main part” of its troops in Syria, and what the implications of this will be on the Syrian civil war and the future of NATO’s southern flank have thus emerged as burning questions. Seeking to answer these questions, EDAM’s latest discussion paper analyzes the military nature of what Russia has thus far withdrawn and kept, and what this could mean for the military and political context of the Syrian civil war.
Can Kasapoğlu, 27 October 2015
Improvised explosive devices (IED) and suicide bombings make up the new face of the spiral of low intensity conflict and suicide bombings in the Middle East. These means have been utilized heavily by both the PKK and ISIS and have deeply effected Turkey's counter terrorism efforts. This EDAM report, published in Turkish, provides a thorough analysis on the strategic, tactical and operational levels of IED and suicide bombing trends for the concern of the readers and policy makers.
Can Kasapoglu, F. Doruk Ergun, Sinan Ulgen 3 July2015
Recent events near Turkish borders have been followed by a mobilization along the Turkey border and increased discussions of a potential Turkish intervention into Syria. The Turkish press has provided various speculations on both the political objectives and military nature of such an operation. So far, it appears that Ankara feels that its national interests are threatened by both ISIS’ remaining presence near Turkish borders and the Kurdish PYD’s potential for solidifying its bid for statehood. Furthermore, policymakers in Ankara may be seeing a necessity to create a buffer zone with the aim of absorbing prospective mass refugee influxes or providing logistical assistance to rebel organizations favored by Ankara in their struggle against the Assad regime. This EDAM Discussion Paper reviews the potential goals, legality, and military dimension of a Turkish intervention into Syria.
Sinan Ulgen, Doruk Ergun, 1 September 2014
In their paper entitled “A Turkish perspective on the rise of the Islamic Caliphate”, Sinan Ulgen and Doruk Ergun elaborate on the challenges posed by ISIL and analyze Turkey’s potential role in the containment of ISIL. Much of the recent analysis focusing on ISIL fails to underline the depth of the concern that the rise of Islamic extremism generates in neighbouring Turkey. The apparent reason for failing to capture this acute sense of alarm is the ambivalent public rhetoric of the Turkish authorities on ISIL. Ankara may not discriminated enough among the different factions of the Syrian opposition in the past. But today the Turkish government’s perspective on ISIL has changed radically. The attack on the Turkish consulate in Mosul three months ago that has led to the capture of 49 of Turkey’s diplomatic staff by the ISIL militants was certainly a factor. But Ankara is equally concerned about the security and geopolitical implications of the potentially game changing nature of the Islamic Caliphate.
Can Kasapoglu, 1 September 2014
In his paper entitled “Fighting the Caliphate : what are the military options ?”, EDAM expert Can Kasapoglu reviews the scope of the military reaction to ISIL and evaluates the effectiveness of the military option in any future containment strategy. He also assesses the readiness and capability of the Iraqi forces. A transnational adversary that enjoys good military coordination at strategic and operational levels, sustainable recruitment resources, adequate financial sources, and violent ideological formation cannot be defeated without a joint effort that includes a robust ground forces element. Geostrategic imperatives of confronting transnational non-state armed groups necessitate denying safe havens by cross-border operations. An air assault campaign, can mitigate an irregular actor’s resiliency, limit its military and paramilitary options, deny some critical areas, win some tactical engagements, and, if lucky, target high-value personnel. Yet, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism records of the past few decades have proven that without a surge in ground forces and holding onto territory, a robust transnational insurgency cannot be defeated decisively. In order to overcome the ISIL threat, the KRG’s Pashmarga and the Iraqi Security Forces should not only be reinforced but also encouraged to act in coordination.
Can Kasapoğlu, 11 June 2014
Following Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, which brought about the annexation of Crimea and led to turmoil in eastern provinces, NATO members at Russia’s doorstep now perceive Kremlin’s political – military aggressiveness as substantially more threatening. This threat perception is underpinned by a visible effort by Moscow to modernize and upgrade its military capabilities. More importantly, Russia’s military modernization is combined with geopolitical expansionism through political – military escalation towards neighboring nations. This puts extra burden on the North Atlantic Alliance’s shoulders to boost military strategic posture for the defense of fragile members at Moscow’s doorstep. This paper aims to investigate Moscow’s rising military posture and pressing threats vis-à-vis its geopolitical hinterland. In doing so, this assessment focuses on three key aspects, which have been playing critical roles since the 2008 Russo – Georgian War, namely the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV – Vozdushno-Desantnye Voyska) and this elite unit’s uptrend in the overall force posture, the role of strategic deployment in Moscow’s ambitious expansionism, and finally, Kremlin’s view of its strategic weapons arsenal in order to maintain operational security at global scale.
An Audit of Power: Turkey's Leverage in Post Soviet Space
Tectonic shifts in the balance of power between the key players in the post-Soviet area will take place within the next decades. One of the main beneficiaries of this geostrategic earthquake could be Turkey, an emerging middle power, whose influence in the former USSR has increased significantly over the past decade. In the first part of this article, the significance of the post-Soviet area in Turkish foreign policy will be presented in various fields: geopolitical, energy, regional co-operation, economic and social. The second part will be devoted to Turkey’s relations with Russia, the most important of the post-Soviet countries. The next paragraph will outline Turkey’s relations with the Central Asian republics and Azerbaijan, including the cultural, identity and energy issues. The third part will concern the position of Turkey in its immediate neighbourhood, i.e. the Black Sea basin, where Ankara’s interests cross with EU and Russian interests. Last but not least, the final part will raise the issue of prospects for Turkey’s engagement in the post-Soviet area in the next few decades.
Regionalism and Regionalisation in the Black Sea Region and Turkey
Tolga Bölükbaşı, Ebru Ertugal
The phenomenal surge in processes of regional economic integration and cooperation across the globe in recent decades requires more policy oriented research on the nature, scope and extent of these processes in a comparative perspective. This paper aims to explore the extent of regionalization in an understudied geographical region – the Black Sea area. It does so by, first, analyzing the nature of regionalism that the Organization of Black Sea Economic Corporation (BSEC) represents and measuring the degree of regionalization therein in the 2000s by relying on two sets of indicators: intraregional export/import/trade volumes as shares of the regions’ total global export/import/trade , and intra-regional export/import/trade volumes as shares of the regions’ total output measured in GDP. Second, it evaluates the extent of Turkey’s economic integration with the Black Sea region in comparative terms based on the share of the BSEC area in Turkey’s overall trade and investment flows. The paper concludes by summarizing the findings of the study.
Turkey and Russia in the Black Sea Region: Dynamics of Cooperation and Conflict
Oktay F. Tanrısever
This policy brief examines the sources and limitations of Turkey’s relations with Russia since 2000 as well as the implications of Turkey’s lack of a clear vision for the Black Sea region for the future of its bilateral relations with Russia and the other international, regional and local actors in the Black Sea region. The brief identifies the increasing predictability of political leaderships in both Russia and Turkey, Turkey’s process of Europeanization and its emergence as a global actor, the increasing self-confidence of Russia in regional and global politics and the instability in the Middle East and Central Asia as the main factors that brought these countries together in the 2000s. Ankara and Moscow have developed their bilateral relations in the Black Sea region very pragmatically even without developing any clear vision for the Black Sea region itself. Although these countries continue to cooperate in naval security, economic relations and new energy projects, they have significant rivalries related to their competitive energy strategies, conflicting security strategies as reflected in the suspended Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and NATO’s European missile defence system, and differing positions on the ethnoterritorial conflicts as well as the process of democratization in the Black Sea region.
Three Spectres Haunting Arab Spring
This paper is based on the assumption that almost everyone regards the new Arab Awakening – the new Nahda – as A Good Thing, even though substantial pockets of influential opinion may not see it that way at all. For some, these Arab upheavals are a leap in the dark and they see lots of trouble ahead. Others, notably Israel and its most unconditional supporters in the US, feel bereft of a stable of reliable despots able to hold back the hostility of the Arab peoples towards their policies across the Middle East. As the head of one of Israel’s leading strategy think-tanks remarked ruefully to me three days after the fall of Hosni Mubarak: “our entire structure of analysis just collapsed”. Let us be clear: there is going to be lots of trouble ahead and lots of instability. I fail to see how it could be otherwise, in light of the history
Magnified Histories of the Magnified Centuries by Pelin Batu
We saw it coming; an Ottomania frenzy that swept the nation by and by. After years of being portrayed grimly by grey historians of the Republic, the “decadent” Ottomans were rather hastily metamorphosed into “benevolent” models of magnificence. Thirsty to discover an erased or eradicated past, we have recently placed history smack in the centre of everyday life and politics. But have we, really? In the past few years, books of history have consistently started topping bestseller lists, Ottoman paraphernalia from Ottoman t-shirts calling for the “Empire to strike back” to Sultan hamburger XXL menus at franchised chain stores have cheekily reminded us of our grand past while a myriad of television programs featuring hosts discussing some Sultan’s moustache for an interminable number of hours have become the “new babies” of news networks. In short, Ottoman history has become a la mode; not only does it sell but it has instilled in our EU rejecté egos a sense of pride and glamour...
From Vision to Reality: The Relative Power of Turkish Foreign Policy by Esra LaGro
The comments about the current Turkish foreign policy vision are endless, but what about the reality? The reality is that Turkish foreign policy is emerging out of various parameters and shifting international paradigms of a new global order next to its national identity formation at home. Thus it is both internationally and nationally driven. Turkish national identity, informing national interests and the subsequent foreign policy conduct, diverges or converges in different contexts of power relations across the world, be it equal or unequal. This, in fact, is the basis of recent paradigm shifts occurring in Turkish foreign policy, essentially leading to relative power of Turkish foreign policy in world politics.
A Faster, Better Route to Economic Integration Across the Mediterranean
Sinan Ulgen, 13 October 2011
An alternative approach to the current economic integration roadmap for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries would provide a significant opportunity for EU-Turkey-MENA cooperation while substantially improving the economic outlook for the Southern Mediterranean countries. The goal of economic integration between the southern part of the Mediterranean and Europe is currently being pursued through the gradual implementation of a web of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). This is the legacy of the Euro-Mediterranean Barcelona process, which initially foresaw the establishment of a free trade zone across the Mediterranean by 2010. The way forward envisaged the conclusion of FTAs first between the EU and individual MENA countries, and then among MENA countries themselves in order to create a large, seamless free trade area around the Mediterranean. The first part of this vision was gradually and successfully implemented—the EU has initiated and concluded FTAs with all of its Mediterranean neighbors except for Libya.
The Black Sea Region in the New Turkish Foreign Policy
The Wider Black Sea Region has gone through a very significant transformation since the end of the Cold War. Although there have been some successful attempts to provide political, economic and military cooperation, the regionalization attempts are usually considered to be semi-successful at best. This paper begins with a brief historical discussion to provide the background for analysis in the last two decades. Then, four major principles that should guide Turkish foreign policy within the Wider Black Sea Region are discussed, including possible benefits and difficulties associated with them. These principles are: promotion of the BSEC; improvement of bilateral relations with Russia and its inclusion in all multilateral initiatives; prevention of great power rivalry and interstate or civil wars in the Black Sea region.
Turkish Policy Towards the Caucasus: A Balance Sheet of the Balancing Act
In the course of the past few years, Turkey’s relations with all three South Caucasus countries have been highly episodic. Thus far, Turkey has not achieved tangible results from its high profile attempts to influence the course of events, for example, in setting up a regional platform where countries of the regions will collaborate, or leveraging the prospect of an open border with Armenia to bring about the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. If Turkish foreign policy towards the Caucasus is judged today on the basis of some of its proclaimed goals – such as ironing out problems with neighbors or solving regional conflicts, it falls short of accomplishment. In common assessments of the reasons Turkey’s professed solutions did not stick, Turkish analysts, politicians, and diplomats rarely take into account that Ankara’s miscalculation of the variables of its neighbors led to Ankara drawing up proposals that were non-viable. Turkish civil society or academic analysis on Turkey’s regional policies hardly factor in the viewpoint of the recipients of Turkey’s foreign policy. The latter is perhaps a factor of the weak links between the opinion leaders or researchers of Turkey and those of the three Caucasus countries. Despite the lack of clear-cut victories thus far, Turkish traction in the region is gradually increasing on certain levels.
Turkey’s 2023 Economic Goal in Global Perspective
Jean Pierre Lehmann, June 2011
The Republic of Turkey will celebrate its centenary in 2023. Its economic goal is to rank among the world’s 10 biggest economies. To move from its current 17th position, Turkey will have to grow on average 8% per annum. This paper assesses Turkey’s challenge and prospects from a global perspective, in light of present international conditions and trends, and possible lessons to be drawn from previous examples and experiences of fast growth, notably in East Asia. The paper raises questions regarding not just the benefits of high growth, but also its costs. Successful economic growth can be very costly in social terms. Hence Turkey’s aspirations for economic growth must be accompanied by visions and goals of social development.
Sinan Ulgen, Hurriyet Daily News, 5 May 2011
The death of Osama bin Laden will inevitably lead to fundamental changes in Turkish foreign policy in terms of Turkey's bilateral relations with the U.S. In light of the extensive coverage of these last few days, there is no strong need for underscoring yet another time the significance of the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan. However, it is necessary to think about the longer term consequences for Turkey of this watershed event in the fight against terror.
Sinan Ulgen, Carnegie Europe, January 2011
Turkey’s vote against additional UN Security Council sanctions on Iran this year was viewed by many observers as a sign that Turkey is drifting away from the West. In reality, Ankara’s relationship with the United States and the EU is much more complicated. Turkey’s ambitious foreign policy and growing influence present the West with an opportunity to demand that Turkey play a more constructive role in the international community.
Can Kasapoğlu, Doruk Ergun, Sinan Ülgen, 8 April 2017
Turkish authorities declared that Operation Euphrates Shield was successfully completed on March 29th 2017. In the operations that lasted over seven months, Turkey accomplished two of its main objectives, diminishing the ISIL threat emanating from beyond its borders, and preventing PKK-affiliated PYD from establishing a fait accompli corridor by bridging all territories under its de facto control. Yet, the Turkish operations have also had their costs, including the 71 Turkish military personnel that lost their lives. This infographic analysis assesses the military and political lessons learned for Turkey during its first major extraterritorial military operation since the 1990s’ cross-border counterterrorism incursions into Northern Iraq.
Sinan Ulgen, Doruk Ergun, 11 November 2016
In contrast to the reaction in many other NATO capitals, the surprise election of Donald Trump has been met with high spirits in Turkey’s capital. The expectation in Ankara seems to reflect the understanding that the new US president will deprioritize democracy and rule of law issues, which have increasingly become thorns in the US-Turkey relationship. Ankara also hopes that the President elect would be more amenable to the Turkish stance on Fetullah Gulen and his network in the United States. The Turkish government also expects that the new US administration will be more open to accepting a lead role for Turkey in the stabilization of a benighted Middle East. Yet against these expectations, the Trump presidency may complicate the relationship between Washington and Ankara as the US reshapes its foreign policy outlook in the Middle East and Europe.
Can Kasapoglu, F. Doruk Ergun, 10 March 2014
The standoff between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea presents numerous challenges for Turkey. As the only state to control the gateway into the Black Sea, the Dardanelles and Bosphorus, Ankara's stance may have a significant impact on how the crisis and a potential military conflict plays out in the region. But Turkey will be divided between favoring the requests of its NATO allies and appeasing Russia, one of its major economic and diplomatic partners. The status of Crimean Tatars also presents a challenge for Ankara, which has emphasized the kinship aspect of its foreign policy over the last decade as a means of fostering soft power projection capabilities.
Can Kasapoglu, 15 April 2013
President Obama’s recent visit to Israel was expected to be a very high profile one, but with modest actual outcomes. Many experts shared the view that Obama’s presence in White House has been a positive factor that may foster a rapprochement between Turkey and Israel (despite the very fact that deterioration itself took place in the midst of the President’s first term), thereby, almost everyone was excited by the US-brokered apology that gave hopes of a major restoration between the two democracies of the Middle East, Turkey and Israel. This paper aims to understand the factors, which paved the ground for the Turkish – Israeli rapprochement, and to analyze prospects of further cooperation between the two nations. For starters, Turkish – Israeli ties have always been crucially important due to their potential of creating stability and forming a robust political-military posture. Apart from being true evidence of “democratic peace assumption”; in practical, Turkish – Israeli cooperation is the most important and viable partnership of the Middle East and North Africa that is capable of counterbalancing Iran – Baathist Syria alliance effectively, and exerting influence in a wide geopolitical axis, ranging from Levant to Caucasus. Furthermore, especially during the debates on US strategic pivot shift to Asia – Pacific and following US-withdrawal from Iraq, Turkish – Israeli relations would serve as the West’s anchor in this important region. To be precise, this fact points out the very difference between being “West-friendly and Western-minded”, which is tantamount to the tangible difference between the GCC states and Turkey & Israel.
The West's New International Security Challenges
George Perkovich, November 2011
This paper sketches some of the most important developments in the international security environment since 2008. In some places it focuses on the United States. That is because its economic and political situations make it less disposed to provide global public goods than has been the case in previous decades. While these conditions may be reversible, their implications for global security over the next decade are serious.
Sinan Ulgen, Project Syndicate, 14 June 2011
Meanwhile, cooperation between NATO and the European Union remains stalled, owing to the dispute with Turkey over divided Cyprus. Moreover, in sharp contrast to the majority of NATO members, Turkey maintains that Iran and Syria should not be viewed as threats. And, at the height of the Libyan crisis, while NATO officials were preparing operational plans to intervene, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was speaking out against military action. As a result, some now say that Turkey is turning its back on the West. But it would be more accurate to say that Turkey is broadening its reach. Turkey may indeed cause tensions within NATO, but its position represents an astute balance between loyalty to the Alliance and appropriate regard for its own national interests.
Sinan Ulgen, Europe's World, Summer 2011
Turkey has in recent years gone from the Cold War cornerstone of Nato to being seen as a mixed blessing. Sinan Ülgen traces the changes in Turkey’s circumstances and policy thinking, and explains how Ankara sees the Alliance’s future.