Turkish Foreign Policy towards Syria since 2002

  •  Mira Gawwad    
  •  Mohamed Mohamed Hussein Mostafa    


Since Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, Turkey has been transformed from an isolated country from its regional environment to a regional player which had positive relations with most countries in the region, especially Syria. It represents a strategic importance for Turkey. Turkey’s policy towards Syria since 2002 has aimed at reviving its regional role, protecting its national security and achieving its economic interests. The problem of the study revolves around the nature of the determinants and orientations of Turkish foreign policy towards Syria, and changes that have taken place in this policy from the moment of the arrival of AKP to power to the period following the Syrian Revolution. The predicament here is the difficulty in following a general feature of Turkish policy towards Syria, from one stage to another, specifically before and after the revolution.

Therefore, the study seeks to know the nature of this policy and its tools, and the extent of its impact on the relations between the two countries. The Syrian Revolution is difficult test for Turkey. To get out of the regional dilemma, Turkey has reoriented its foreign policy. The study has reached several points of results, the most important of which are:

1) The change in the Turkish ruling elite since 2002 has been a major factor in the change of Turkish foreign policy towards Syria. 2) Despite the importance of the water factor in Turkish policy towards Syria, it reflected the development of relations between them. If relations between the two countries were good, the talk about conflict over water would decline. 3) Turkey's decision- makers have expected that the Arab revolutions would have a positive impact on the Turkish role in the region. However, the Syrian revolution had a negative impact on turkey and its regional project. 4) AKP has reconsidered ideology as a key determinant of foreign policy after the Arab revolutions by supporting the opposition. However, ideology has retreated in front of the state’s interests. This was evident in the changes of Turkish foreign policy after the failed coup in Turkey. 5) The Syrian crisis has proved that Turkey cannot engage in Syria away from the calculations of regional and international powers.

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