Beyond the NATO summit

NATO’s summit in Warsaw last week was critical in terms of establishing guidelines for the alliance to adapt itself to the rapidly changing security environment. With its 28 members, each with different priorities and interests, it was not an easy task for NATOleaders to agree on a well-balanced defense strategy between its eastern and southern flanks. The lengthy concluding communiqué, which in many ways provided less than what Turkey expected in the fight against terrorism, at least marked the beginning of NATO’s adaptation process.

Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent instabilities in Ukraine put an end to NATO’s existential crisis and reaffirmed its traditional role of deterring Russia. However, the allies have different perspectives on how to cope with Russia’s aggression. While Eastern European states have called for an increased NATO presence in the region, countries such as Germany or the United States have been in favor of containing Russian expansion without provoking it any further.

Compared to the eastern flank, the threats emanating from the south have been too complex for NATO to deal with using its traditional toolbox. Whether or not NATO will be able to successfully address these multi-dimensional and multilateral threats, such as failed states, civil wars, jihadist terrorism and the refugee problem, is an important matter in itself. But the summit’s emphasis on the “indivisibility of security” is nevertheless a political gain. The alliance seems to have finally acknowledged that “the continuing crises and instability across the Middle East and North Africa region” have presented direct implications for its security.
Indeed, Russia appears as the most imminent threat in the communiqué released at the summit. But the flood of refugees to Europe along with mounting terrorist attacks, have diverted NATO’s attention toward Syria and Iraq and inevitably to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Unfortunately, the consciousness created among the allies over the necessity to strengthen the southern flank did not translate into concrete assurance measures such as the Very High Joint Readiness Task Force we observed on the eastern flank at the Wales Summit in 2014. What NATO is offering today instead is more preliminary steps to bolster its monitoring and intelligence-sharing capacity and develop partnerships with the countries in the region for stabilization.

The frustration of Turkish leaders is understandable since Turkey, as a country which has been fighting against terrorism on dual fronts and struggling with the refugee problem, demanded stronger NATO engagement in the region, particularly support for a no-fly zone in Syria, but it so far has had to settle for the mere deployment of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS).

Moreover, Turkey expected NATO to embrace a broader definition of terrorism and of groups in the region so as to include the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but the communiqué emphasized only ISIL, al-Nusra and other related groups, simply because the Democratic Union Party (PYD) remains the most effective partner on the ground for the coalition combating ISIL.

ISIL missile attacks which have targeted Kilis in southeastern Turkey in recent months demonstrated that NATO’s collective defense mechanism is not working. And avoiding an outright clash with Russia somewhat explains why NATO is not willing to put “boots on the ground” in Syria.

Instead, with the dispatch of AWACS to Turkey, which will fly over Syria and Iraq to support the coalition, NATO is hoping to increase its presence over Turkey’s borders against the terrorist threat and break the area access denial (A2/AD) created by Russiain Syria at the same time.

Surveillance units will also monitor possible border violations, work to prevent another incident between Russia and Turkey and thus reduce the possibilities of invoking Article 5, which binds members to defend other members facing attack.

Currently, in addition to Spanish missile batteries in Adana, Italian SAMP_T surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries have been deployed to Kahramanmaraş to strengthen the Syrian border against ISIL attacks, replacing the German Patriot SAMs that were withdrawn last year.

The high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) rocket launchers to be deployed by the U.S. this month will certainly contribute to the consolidation of border defense by upgrading Turkey’s offensive capabilities.

The set of decisions taken at the Warsaw Summit with regard to the southern flank may have fallen short of satisfying Turkey’s security concerns, but they might evolve into more substantial commitments over time as the seeds planted at the summit start to grow. In the meantime, maintaining political cohesion within the alliance is critical for progress.

Behind the scenes of Turkish-Israeli reconciliation deal

After six long years, Turkey and Israel have finally put pen to paper to sign an agreement normalizing their relations, with the leaders of both countries heralding the deal as a success to their respective publics. The deal, however, was made possible by both countries compromising on their red lines – at least to a certain degree.

After the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, one of Ankara’s three conditions for a resumption of relations was the lifting of the siege on Gaza. Instead of its elimination, however, Turkey settled for a mere easing of the embargo due to Israel’s security concerns. As such, Gaza-bound aid from Turkey will first be subjected to Israeli checks at the port of Ashdod before being transported to Gaza. In other words, the maritime siege remains in force.

During the advanced phase of the talks, Israel raised the issue of closing Hamas’ offices in Turkey, but it would appear that Tel Aviv has taken a step back with regard to the final agreement. Alleged to be the site in which terrorist attacks in Israel were planned, these offices will now only remain open for diplomatic purposes under guarantees from Ankara.

Meanwhile, Israel agreed to pay $20 million to the families of the 10 Turkish activists killed in the flotilla raid in return for Turkey dropping the cases against senior Israeli military officials in its country’s courts. However, cases could still be opened against Turkey in the event the state quashes individually-opened trials against Israeli military personnel, since it would be a violation of rights.

Without wasting any time, Turkey is sending its first shipment of aid – totaling 10 tons – to Gaza this Friday, July 1. With headlines proclaiming a “Holiday in Gaza,” the move is certain to assuage the unease of those upset by the deal.

The point we have reached today, however, is the exact same one Israel suggested more than six years ago before the Mavi Marmara set sail – namely, that Turkey should send any aid via Ashdod. But keeping in mind the United Nations’ admonition that Gaza will be “uninhabitable by 2020,” the fact that living conditions will be ameliorated somewhat with investments in hospitals, power plants and desalinization plants from Turkey is a political and humanitarian victory that should not be understated.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the economic aspects of the deal, noting it would “have immense implications for the Israeli economy.” Chief among these implications are possible energy deals with Turkey, with Israel set to earn $2 billion by exporting gas through Turkey – to say nothing about the strategic aspects of such exports, such as diversifying energy resources, contributing to Europe’s energy security and acting as a counter-balance to Russia.

Naturally, too, the détente between Turkey and Israel is also likely to have positive ramifications on Turkey, Egypt and Cyprus.

And then there’s the military aspect of Turkish-Israeli ties. Reading between the lines as Netanyahu listed the deal’s economic benefits it is also possible to anticipate benefits to the Israeli economy from future military cooperation between the two countries. At the same time, however, the mutual sharing of intelligence on a military level depends on the two overcoming the mistrust that has taken root over the years.

In the interests of rectifying the mutual loss of trust, Turkey’s task will be to combat the anti-Semitism in the country that has become intertwined with anti-Israel rhetoric.

At the same time, it is important to note that any new clashes between Israel and Palestine could throw Turkish-Israel ties off kilter until there is a solution to the Palestinian issue.

The deal between Turkey and Israel is the product of an anticipated revision in Ankara’s foreign policy, and is in accordance with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, who said “we will increase the number of our friends” as soon as he came to power.

To the north, Turkish-Russian ties also seem to be getting back on track after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter of apology to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the 2015 jet crisis, but given the economic and political ramifications the crisis has had on Turkey, one might even say it’s come late.

As all of these things were happening on June 27, we learned from Yıldırım that there would be no delay in fostering new relations with Egypt.

In building new bridges, next up might be Cyprus – or even Syria. But if one thing is certain, it’s that an ideological foreign policy is being abandoned in favor of one based on realpolitik and Turkey’s interests.

In light of this, it would be appropriate to declare that Turkey pressed the “reset” button on June 27.

Dış politikada “güzel şeyler” oluyor

27 Haziran itibariyle Türk dış politikasında tabiri caizse ‘reset’ yani ‘yeniden başlat’ tuşuna basıldı. Önce İsrail ile imzalanan anlaşma, ardından Rusya’ya yollanan özür mektubu derken, ‘güzel şeyler’ olacağını müjdeleyen Başbakan Binali Yıldırım’dan haberlerin sadece bununla sınırlı kalmayacağını, Mısır ile ilişkilerin de düzelebileceğine dair sinyaller aldık.

Evet, altı yıl aradan sonra nihayet Türkiye ve İsrail, ilişkileri normalleştirmek adına müzakere edilen anlaşmaya imza koydular. Her iki ülkenin lideri anlaşmayı kendi kamuoyuna bir başarı hikâyesi olarak sundu. Oysaki uzlaşma, her iki ülkenin kendi kırmızı çizgilerinden bir nebze olsun ödün verebilmesi sayesinde sağlanabildi.

Ankara, Mavi Marmara olayı sonrası öne sürülen üç şarttan biri olan Gazze ablukasının kaldırılması yerine -İsrail’in güvenlik çekinceleri sebebiyle- ambargonun Türkiye lehine hafifletilmesine ikna oldu. Buna göre, Türkiye’den Gazze’ye gönderilecek sivil yardımlar Aşdod Limanında İsrail denetiminden geçtikten sonra Erez Kapısından ulaştırılacak. Yani deniz ablukası sürüyor.

Müzakerelerin ilerleyen safhasında İsrail tarafından gündeme alınan, Türkiye’deki Hamas ofislerinin kapatılması meselesinde ise, Tel Aviv geri adım atmış görünüyor. İsrail’e yönelik terör operasyonlarının idare edildiği öne sürülen bu ofisler, Ankara’nın teminatı karşılığında bundan böyle sadece diplomatik temsil amaçlı açık kalacak.

Gazze’ye yaklaşık 10 bin ton yardım götürmek üzere ilk gemi, bu cuma limandan ayrılıyor. Yakında gazetelerde “Gazze’de bayram havası” manşetleri göreceğiz.

Bu noktaya tam altı yıl sonra, üstelik de Mavi Marmara gemisi sefere çıkmadan önce İsrail’in Türkiye’ye yaptığı “Malları Aşdod Limanı üzerinden ulaştıralım” önerisini kabul ederek geldik.  Yine de Birleşmiş Milletler’in “2020’de üzerinde yaşanamaz bir yer” olarak nitelediği Gazze’de insanların hayat şartlarını biraz olsun iyileştirecek yatırımların yapılacak olması (hastane, enerji santrali ve su arıtma tesisi gibi) ve bunların Türkiye eliyle yapılacak olması hafife alınmaması gereken bir insani kazanım.

Öte yandan, Başbakan Binyamin Netanyahu’nun anlaşma sonrası yaptığı açıklamada ana vurgusu, Türkiye ile imzalanacak enerji anlaşmalarından elde edilecek ekonomik kazanç üzerine. Türkiye’ye planlanan gaz ihracatının İsrail’e yıllık 2 milyar dolar getirisi olacağı tahmin ediliyor. Enerji kaynaklarının çeşitlendirilmesi bağlamında işin, Avrupa enerji güvenliğine katkısı, Rusya’nın dengelenmesi gibi stratejik boyutu da var.

Tabi Türkiye-İsrail arası yakınlaşmanın Türkiye, Mısır ve Kıbrıs arasındaki ilişkilere de olumlu yansıyacağı tahmin ediliyor.

İkili ilişkilerde askeri düzeyde işbirliğinin ilerletilmesi, özellikle istihbarat alanında bilgi paylaşımı, yıllar içinde giderek derinleşen güven bunalımın aşılmasına bağlı.

İlerleyen dönemde taraflar, anlaşmanın uygulanması noktasında kararlı bir irade sergilemeleri oldukça önemli. Özellikle, iki ülke arasındaki derin güven kaybının yeniden tesis edilmesi açısından, Türkiye’nin payına düşen, ülke içindeki antisemitizmle iç içe geçmiş İsrail karşıtı söylem ile mücadele etmek olmalı.

Bununla birlikte Filistin meselesi çözüme kavuşturuluncaya dek İsrail ve Filistin arasında alevlenecek yeni bir askeri çatışmanın Türkiye-İsrail ilişkilerini raydan çıkarma potansiyeline sahip olduğunu unutmamak gerek.

Türkiye-İsrail arasında imzalanan anlaşma dış politikada bir süredir sinyallerini aldığımız revizyonun bir parçası aslında. Başbakan Binali Yıldırım’ın göreve gelir gelmez altını çizdiği “dostlarımızı artıracağız” çıkışıyla da uyum içinde.

Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan’ın Rusya Devlet Başkanı Vladimir Putin’e göndermiş olduğu özür mektubu ile Türkiye-Rusya ilişkileri de rayına giriyor gibi. Rusya ile krizin Türkiye’ye ekonomik ve siyasi faturası düşünülürse geç bile kalındığı söylenebilir.

Yine 27 Haziran’da tüm bu gelişmelerin üzerine Başbakan Yıldırım’dan Mısır ile ilişkilerin geliştirilmesine mani olmadığını, karşılıklı bakanların ve iş heyetlerinin gidip gelebileceğinin, askeri temaslar yapılabileceğini öğrendik.

Yıkılan köprülerin yeniden onarılma sürecinde sıra Kıbrıs ve hatta Suriye’ye gelebilir. Elbette zaman içinde muhatapların verecekleri karşılıklar neticesinde daha net öngörüler yapma fırsatımız olacak.

Ancak kesin olan bir nokta var ki o da ideolojik bir dış politika çizgisinden, giderek gerçekçi ve çıkar bazlı bir dış politikasına çizgisine doğru evirilmeye başladığımız. Türkiye’nin komşuları ve müttefikleriyle daha dengeli ilişkiler yürütmesinin anahtarı mezhepler üstü ve tarafsız konumunu yeniden kazanmak ve muhafaza etmesinden geçiyor.

New strategy required for NATO’s southern flank

The NATO Summit in Warsaw next month is critical in terms of defining the way forward for the alliance.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and incursions into eastern Ukraine in 2014 effectively united the alliance and reactivated its traditional mission of deterring Russia.

However, NATO’s relevance regarding the threats emanating from the south is being questioned.

Historically, NATO has been an institution that has expanded its sphere of influence exclusively toward the east. Today, however, NATO’s southern flank poses a complex threat that requires multi-dimensional strategies for territorial defense, cooperative security and crisis management.

As repeated missile attacks in the southeastern Turkish province of Kilis have shown, the collective defense mechanism operating under the alliance’s fifth article – which stipulates that an attack on one member is an attack on all – no longer functions properly.

This is partly because NATO members are pursuing different priorities and hold contrasting threat perceptions when it comes to either confronting Russia or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
It is also true that NATO’s Cold War strategies, which were designed to confront conventional threats, fall short of deterring challenges posed by both state and non-state actors that employ hybrid warfare techniques.

In this respect, Sinan Ülgen and Can Kasapoğlu of Edam penned the recent report, “A threat based strategy for NATO’s southern flank,” in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The report, which will be presented at the Warsaw Summit next month, addresses the key threats facing NATO on the southern flank and offers policy responses.

In the analysis, the authors highlight hybrid warfare, Russia’s actions, Iran’s ballistic missile proliferation, state failure, violent extremism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among non-state actors (including risks of biological and chemical attacks) as key threats facing NATO on its southern flank.

“There can be no all-encompassing deterrence framework that the alliance can use to develop the correct policy response. Instead, any policy approach needs to reflect the heterogeneity of the threat landscape,” said the pair.

Using a quadrant matrix, Ülgen and Kasapoğlu present a logical map of the threat topography of NATO’s southern flank. They divide threats into two categories: State actors and non-state actors. Likewise, they identify NATO’s security objectives policies under two headings – preemption and prevention – and suggest alternative policy initiatives.

Accordingly, shortening the deployment gap between the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and the NATO Response Force (NRF), improving naval capabilities in the eastern Mediterranean and establishing a NATO Force Integration Unit in Turkey are among the policy suggestions.

As for an effective counterterrorism strategy, the report strongly advises NATO to boost intelligence sharing not only with member states but also with non-member states by strengthening partnership programs.
Although it is often an understated issue, improving situational awareness on a global scale regarding chemical and biological threats is also necessary, the report added.

The report aims to create consciousness about the complex and diverse threats facing NATO on its southern flank, bring the issue to the attention of decision-makers in NATOand convince them to take action in this respect.

There are many obstacles facing the alliance with regard to the southern flank strategy. Most pertinent is the question of how to convince 28 members to boost security in the south at the expense of deploying fewer resources to the east.

Second, is it possible to balance the eastern and southern flank strategies without provoking Russia any further?

Russia, which poses a threat in the east, has become a threat in the south as well since it militarily intervened in Syria last year. However, the same Russia has a stake in combating terrorism and is therefore considered a partner in combating ISIL in the region.

The debates at the Warsaw Summit in early July are expected to not only update and upgrade the alliance’s defense strategies, but also reform decision-making structures and increase burden-sharing among members.
If the members succeed in overcoming their differences and agree on a common, forward-looking strategy, it will be a litmus test for NATO in terms of exporting security outside its borders. And given the rise of populist politics in Europe, NATO’s standing may even help reverse the trend toward introversion.

What will Trump and Clinton offer Turkey?

Now that the primaries are over and the party conventions are just a couple of days away, it’s time to have a look at the foreign policy orientations of the two presumptive nominees – the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton and the Republicans’ Donald Trump – who offer contrasting approaches to the U.S.’ role and leadership in addressing global conflicts.

With Turkey situated at a geopolitical hotspot, the future course of American foreign policy – and thus the person who is likely to sit in the Oval Office – is critical for Ankara, which has a stake in the favorable resolution of several conflicts in the region.

Retrospectively, Turkish-American relations under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama have gone through ups and downs over the last eight years, but went further downhill in mid-2013. Moreover, the tackling of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq have resulted in old trust issues resurfacing between Washington and Ankara within the context of the Kurdish issue.

On top of everything, given the perceived retreat of the United States from the Middle East during Obama’s term, it is a critical question as to whether this trend will continue under the next president, who is likely to shape future alliances in the region.

In this respect, what do the two presumptive nominees offer Turkey in terms of their Middle East policies?
To begin with, Trump’s suggested ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “to prevent terrorist attacks” has attracted severe criticism from Turkish officials for fueling Islamophobia.

At the risk of hurting his real estate investments in Turkey, Trump refused to shy away from accusing Ankara of being “on the side of ISIL more or less based on oil,” referring to the allegations of oil smuggling along the border.

When asked about his views on the U.S.’ role in the Middle East, Trump seems to be critical of the U.S. undertaking much of the burden of security in the region. He criticizes regional powers for not committing enough militarily in the fight against ISIL. He even argues for charging states which host U.S. military bases for enjoying Americanprotection. In this context, he makes it clear that he is not opposed to either Russia’s presence in Syria or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power as long as he fights ISIL.

The Iran deal, however, is awful and has to be renegotiated on better terms, according to Trump.

Interestingly, Trump questions the nuclear non-proliferation policy and sees no harm in the event that friendly states, such as Saudi Arabia, seek nuclear weapons if it will make them feel more secure.

As for the Kurds, an overly sensitive issue between Turkey and the U.S., it is important to note that Trump confused the Kurds with the Quds army of Iran during an interview – something that speaks volumes about the extent of his foreign policy expertise.

Against this backdrop, Clinton, the first woman to receive a major party’s presidential nomination, can call upon her experience in governance.

Having served as secretary of state during Obama’s first term, Clinton has indeed had a hard time distancing herself from Obama’s legacy without abandoning her policy decisions at the time.

She is known for her support for the U.S. invasion in Iraq in 2003 and the operation in Libya, and she also offered her endorsement for the Iran deal, albeit while maintaining her distrust for the regime.

Inevitably, her candidacy is perceived more or less as the preservation of the status quo. Due to her close ties with the military establishment and her liberal interventionist political standing, she is considered one of the most hawkish democratic nominees in decades. But in running against a rival such as Trump, this may turn into an advantage in terms of appealing to Republican voters wary of their ostensible nominee.

In her memoir “Hard Choices,” Clinton depicts Turkey as an important and occasionally frustrating partner.

In contrast to Trump, Clinton is in favor of strengthening alliances and global institutions. Her views on Syria especially strike a chord with Ankara, in the sense that she promotes the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Syria, something Ankara has been seeking for years. She is also known to be in favor of arming Iraqi Kurds directly in the fight against ISIL despite Baghdad’s opposition.

Although she does not openly suggest the deployment of U.S. troops overseas, she is more pro-engagement than Obama.

According to Clinton, “if America does not lead, it leaves a vacuum – that will either cause chaos, or other countries will rush to fill the void.”

So it’s Clinton vs. chaos…Pick one!

Sıra Türkiye-Ermenistan ilişkilerine gelir mi?

Hafta başında Erivan kalabalık grupların protestosuna sahne oldu. Aralık ayında Rusya ile imzalanan ortak hava savunma anlaşmasının meclis onayından geçmesini protesto etmek için toplanmışlardı.

Kültürel yakınlığı bir yana, güvenlik ve ekonomi açısından Rusya’ya göbeğinden bağlı olan Ermenistan’da bir süredir Rus sempatizanlığının zemin kaybettiğine ilişkin yorumlar var.

Türkiye de kasım ayındaki uçak krizinden bu yana bir taraftan Rusya ile ilişkileri düzeltmek için fırsatları kollarken, diğer yandan yakın çevresinde Moskova’yı dengeleyecek şekilde ittifaklarını kuvvetlendirme yoluna gitmekte.

Ermenistan odaklı Bölgesel Araştırmalar Merkezi mevcut jeopolitik dengelerin Türkiye-Ermenistan arasında normalleşmeyi teşvik edecek bir fırsat penceresi yaratıp yaratmayacağını tartışmak üzere geçtiğimiz hafta bir atölye çalışması düzenledi.

Ermenistan-Türkiye arasında normalleşme koşulları -tıpkı Türkiye İsrail arasında olduğu gibi- üçüncü bir aktörün dahil olduğu sorunun çözümüne endekslendiğinden, ilişkilerde ilerleme kaydedilemiyor.

Hatırlarsak, 2008 yılında Erivan’dan gelen milli maçı Ermenistan’da izleme teklifi iki ülke arasında buzları eritmiş; “futbol diplomasisi” 2009 yılında Zürih’te imzalanan “diplomatik ilişkilerin tesisi” ve “ikili ilişkilerin geliştirilmesi” başlıklı protokollere zemin hazırlamıştı.

Ne var ki, Azerbaycan’ın her nasılsa hesaplanamayan tepkisi neticesinde Türkiye geri adım atmış, protokolün yürürlüğe girmesini Dağlık-Karabağ sorununun çözümüne bağlamıştı. O zamandan bu yana Ermenistan ile ilişkiler soykırım tartışmalarına ve Dağlık-Karabağ bölgesindeki çatışmalara bağlı dalgalanmaya açık seyretmekte.

En son geçtiğimiz hafta Alman Parlamentosu’nun 1915 Olaylarını soykırım olarak tanıma kararı gündeme damga vurdu. Bölgesel Araştırmalar Merkezi Direktörü Richard Giragosian, bir nevi siyasi sopa vazifesi gören soykırım tanıma kararlarının Türkiye-Ermenistan ilişkilerine faydadan çok zarar verdiği görüşünde. Ortak tarihe dair birçok ayrıntının gün ışığına çıkarılması iki ülke arasında ilişkilerin normalleşmesine ve yapıcı diyaloğun gelişmesine bağlı.

Bu arada resmi temaslar dondurulmuş olsa da perde arkasında diplomatik diyaloğun devam ettiği söyleniyor. Bu bağlamda Türk tarafına Gürcistan’daki Türk büyükelçisinin Ermenistan ile ilişkilerden sorumlu olacak şekilde akreditasyonu ve sınırda belirlenecek geçiş noktalarının en azından haftanın belirli günleri açılması gibi öneriler sunulmuş.

Ayrıca Ermenistan’a bağlı kaynaklar sınır kapalı olduğu için Gürcistan üzerinden sürdürülen ticaretin, Rusya-Türkiye arasında patlak veren krize mukabil katlandığını belirtiyorlar. Ve ekliyorlar: “Ruslar istemeden de olsa yine Türk domatesi yiyor!”

Sınırların açılması Türkiye tarafından Dağlık Karabağ sorununun çözümü için Ermenistan üzerinde siyasi bir koz olarak görülüyor. Ancak bugüne dek sınırların kapalı tutulmasının Ermenistan’ı Azerbaycan’la uzlaşmaya teşvik ettiğine dair bir işaret de yok.  Kaldı ki bölgedeki izolasyonun Ermenistan’ın Rusya’ya olan bağımlılığını gitgide artırdığı bir gerçek.

Öte yandan, Ermenistan içinde Rusya karşıtı bir kamuoyu da oluşmakta. Bu gelişmenin ardında, Ermenistan’ın Gezi ayaklanması olarak anılan 2015’teki elektrik faturalarındaki artış yüzünden çıkan protestoların Rus şirketi tarafından alınan bir karar neticesinde patlak vermiş olması, buna ek olarak Ermenistan’daki askeri üste görevli bir Rus askerinin Ermeni bir aileyi katletmesi ardından yargılama sürecinin adaletsiz seyrinin payı büyük.

Ancak özellikle geçtiğimiz nisan ayında, eskisinden daha şiddetli bir şekilde patlak veren Dağlık-Karabağ çatışmalarında, Rusya’nın Azerbaycan’a sağladığı silahlar neticesinde Ermenistan’ın ciddi kayıplar vermiş olması, toplum içinde Rusya ile ittifak ilişkilerin ciddi şekilde sorgulanmasına sebep olmuş. Kamuoyu Ermenistan ile Rusya arasındaki ilişkilerin asimetrik yönünden, özellikle Ermenistan’ı adeta Rusya’nın piyonu haline getiren siyasi kararlardan rahatsız.

Yeni Soğuk Savaş tartışmaları ve Rusya’nın dengelenmesi noktasında Ermenistan nerede duruyor?

Hâlihazırda Erivan NATO ile Barış İçin Ortaklık programı çerçevesinde ilişkilerini sürdürüyor. Rusya’yla yaşanan güven bunalımı neticesinde Ermenistan’ın gerek ABD gerekse Avrupa ilişkilerinin ilerleyen dönemde kuvvetleneceği öngörülüyor.

Yine de Kolektif Güvenlik Anlaşması Örgütü ve Avrasya Ekonomik Birliği üyesi olan Ermenistan’ın batıya yönelimini eksen değişiminden ziyade daha çok denge politikası olarak okumak yerinde olacaktır.

Türkiye tarafına gelirsek, dış politikada dostların sayısını artırmak bağlamında, Ermenistan’a bir açılım mümkün mü?

“Bir millet, iki devlet” sloganının kamuoyundaki karşılığı düşünülürse bir hayli zor görünüyor. Kadir Has Üniversitesi’nin her yıl düzenli olarak gerçekleştiği dış politika kamuoyu araştırmalarında Azerbaycan Türk halkının dost saydığı devletler sıralamasındaki yerini kimseye kaptırmıyor.  Enerji, ticaret ve güvenlik konuları söz konusu olduğunda,  stratejik çıkarlar Türkiye’nin Azerbaycan’ı kaybedecek bir siyasi hamle yapmasını zor kılmakta. Ancak Ermenistan ile çözümsüzlük hali Azerbaycan’a fayda sağlamadığı gibi ironik bir şekilde Rusya’nın elini güçlendiriyor, tabi bir de sınırın kapalı oluşundan rant elde eden aracı grupları.

Ermenistan-Türkiye sınırının açılmasının yalnızca karşılıklı ekonomik kazanç sağlamakla kalmayıp, Güneydoğu’nun kalkınması için de bir fırsat olabileceğinden hareketle ekonomi-güvenlik boyutuna dikkat çekiyor, Girogosian.

Belki bu yönden bakıldığında Ermenistan ile ilişkilerin normalleşmesi gündemdeki sırasını tekrar alabilir.

The military aspect of normalization with Israel

After several rounds of talks in the last couple of months, Turkey and Israel are set to sign a deal to normalize diplomatic relations. The parties are reportedly working on the details to finalize the agreement, seeking common ground to meet Turkish demands in Gaza without forsaking Israel’s security concerns.

Perhaps a relatively downplayed aspect of normalization – even as it arouses utmost curiosity – is the potential course of military cooperation between Turkey and Israelafter any deal.

A bomb attack in March that killed three Israeli citizens in Beyoğlu was a tragic event that brought the two countries closer together. Following the attacks, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin – in his first conversation with an Israeli leader in three years – that Turkey was ready to cooperate with Israel against terrorism.

Subsequently coming to Turkey, Israeli Foreign Ministry chief Dore Gold praised the Turkish government and said: “The Turks went above and beyond to coordinate with Israel.”

In early May, as a gesture of goodwill, Turkey lifted the veto it had imposed in 2010 at NATO, allowing Israel to open offices at the alliance’s headquarters.

Though Israeli experts by and large agree that relations will not return to the 1990s level and that building trust was essential for the enhancement of intelligence cooperation, they also admit that the restoration of ties might pave the way for increasing cooperation, particularly at a time when Turkey faces imminent threats at home and abroad.

Fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on its border and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeast, Turkey has been seeking ways – including with foreign cooperation – to upgrade its defensive and offensive capabilities against rocket threats.

The alleged downing of a Turkish attack helicopter on May 13, by a man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) fired by the PKK was perceived as a game changer in the field, challenging the conventional strategies of the Turkish Armed Forces against the PKK as the army had heavily relied on the use of attack helicopters.

What’s worse, since mid-January, rocket attacks from ISIL have killed 21 people killed and wounded over 70 in the border province of Kilis alone. Fırtına howitzers deployed along the border fall short of effectively deterring these attacks because of range issues.

“Against this changing security environment, the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) – known as drones – has been on the rise for quite a while due to their tactical and strategic advantages. Of particular importance, they are effective in reducing the loss of personnel,” says Ahmet Han, an IR Professor at Kadir Has University.

Can Kasapoğlu, a security analyst at EDAM, asserts that “as Turkey’s non-state adversaries improve their capabilities with mobile rocket systems, antitank guided missiles, and Manpads, Turkey needs to adapt to the new security environment and devise strategies to meet these threats.”

During a panel at the Atlantic Council last month, Defense Undersecretary İsmail Demir revealed Turkey’s frustration at the U.S. restrictions on the sale of some weapons systems, a fact that has driven Turkey to develop its own technologies.

Since 2008, the U.S. Congress has been dragging its feet on approving the sale of armed drones to Turkey, citing concerns about the Turkish army’s operations in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.

Turkey has thus given weight to domestic research and development in defense technologies, developing tactical unmanned aircraft and indigenous fighter jets not only for domestic use but also for export.

“While Turkey’s promising drone program has shown impressive improvements in testing the Bayraktar and ANKA platforms, the urgency of the rocket threat necessitates well-balanced offensive and defensive capabilities immediately. Regarding the defense counter-measures against the rocket threat, the Israeli-made, combat-proven Iron Dome system provides over 90 percent interception rates, which could have been a silver-bullet solution for Turkey’s Syrian border areas. Besides, as a stopgap measure, Turkey could have opted for prioritized procurement of Israel’s armed drones, which were proven effective in several conflicts,” says Kasapoğlu, leaving the door open for future cooperation between Turkey and Israel.

Turkey’s ultimate goal is to become self-sufficient in defense technology in order to free itself of any political entanglements, as evidenced by its sometimes stormy relationship with the U.S. Amid the pressing threats, domestic R&D does not necessarily rule out the procurement of military systems from third parties, especially from those who are less sensitive about the use of these military systems.

The golden era of cooperation between Turkey and Israel in the fields of security and intelligence might belong to the past. But it feels a lot like the 1990s, doesn’t it?

Türkiye-İsrail arasında yeni sayfaya doğru

“Düşmanlarımızın sayısını azaltıp, dostlarımızın sayısını çoğaltacağız!” diyerek Başbakan Binali Yıldırım dış politikada bir süredir beklenen değişime dair ilk sinyalleri vermiş oldu. Kuşkusuz bu değişimin önemli bir ayağını Türkiye-İsrail ilişkileri oluşturuyor.

Nisan ayında Londra’da gerçekleşen toplantıdan müzakere heyetinin el sıkışarak çıkması beklenirken taraflar adeta devre arası ilan ediverdi.

Önce Mısır ve Rusya’nın kulis etkisi üzerine yorumlar dolaşıma girdi. Ancak gündeme damga vuran iç siyasi gelişmeler, müzakerelerin sarkmasına sebep olan belirsizliğin dış siyasetten ziyade iç politika kaynaklı olduğunu gösterdi.

Başbakan Ahmet Davutoğlu koltuğunu Binali Yıldırım’a bırakırken, İsrail hükümetinde de kan değişimi oldu. Meclisteki temsil gücünü artırmak isteyen İsrail Başbakanı Binyamin Netanyahu bir süredir Siyonist Birlik Partisi lideri İzak Herzog ile görüşüyordu. Ancak sürpriz bir şekilde Herzog yerine şahin kanadı temsil eden Evimiz İsrail lideri Avigdor Lieberman kabineye katıldı.

Gerek Türkiye-İsrail arası normalleşme sürecine gerekse Filistin konusunda iki devletli çözüme karşı tutumuyla bilinen Lieberman’ın koalisyona katılması haliyle iki ülke ilişkileri açısından ilk etapta olumsuz bir gelişme olarak okundu. Ne var ki Lieberman’ın koalisyondaki yerinin onaylanması ardından verdiği ilk demeçler iktidar ortaklığının muhalefetten daha farklı bir üslup dayattığını, bir anlamda ılımlılaşmaya ittiğini gözler önüne seriyor.

Türkiye-İsrail görüşmelerini yakından takip edenler imzaların ne zaman atılacağına odaklanmış durumda. Oysa imzalar atıldıktan sonra iki ülke arası kurulacak işbirliğinin nasıl temeller üzerine inşa edileceği en az zamanlama kadar önemli. İki ülkenin gerçek anlamda hangi ortak çıkarlar ve tehdit algıları üzerinden ilişkileri tanımlayacağı bu ortaklığın ömrü açısından belirleyici olacak.

Bu bağlamda İsrail’den Türkiye’ye bakınca ilişkilerin hiçbir zaman 90’lardaki gibi olmayacağı görüşü hakim. Özellikle askeri ve istihbarat işbirliğinin gelişmesi için öncelikle zedelenen güvenin yeniden inşası elzem.

Öte yandan Türk siyasetinde gücün tek elde toplanması, otoriterleşme eğilimi, dış politika karar alma sürecinde bireylerin kurumların önüne geçmesi gibi yapısal etkenler iki ülke arasında varılacak anlaşmaların (siyasi ya da ekonomik) geleceği açısından belirsizlik algısını körüklüyor.

Normalleşme yolunda Türkiye’nin öne sürdüğü üç koşuldan biri olan ambargonun kaldırılması konusunda İsrail fazlasıyla hassas. Bu konuda varılacak uzlaşmanın Türkiye tarafından Hamas’ı himaye eder bir görünümle ve Gazze’de elini güçlendirecek bir siyasi şova dönüştürülme olasılığı yalnızca İsrail için değil, Hamas’ı Müslüman Kardeşlerin uzantısı ve dolayısıyla güvenlik tehdidi olarak gören Mısır için de kabul edilmesi güç bir durum.

Müzakerelerdeki en büyük ikilem, tarafların uzlaşmaya varmak adına ödün veriyor görünmek istememesi. Her iki taraf da bu pazarlık sürecinden galip olarak çıkma arzusunda. Dolayısıyla pazarlık sürecinin uzamasını karşılıklı yıpratma mücadelesinin bir parçası olarak okumak mümkün.

Bölgesel gelişmeler epey bir süredir iki ülkeyi birbirine yaklaştırmakta. Ancak acaba Ortadoğu’ya baktığında İsrail ve Türkiye aynı resmi görüyor mu?

Suriye’yi ele alalım. Türkiye için önem sırası değişkenlik göstermekle beraber öncelikli hedeflerin Beşar Esad yönetiminin iktidardan inmesi, Suriye’de bağımsız bir Kürt devletinin önlenmesi ve IŞİD’in çevrelenmesi olduğu söylenebilir. İsrail Suriye’ye baktığında ise Golan Tepelerini, oradan Hizbullah’a gidecek askeri desteği, sınırdan gelebilecek tehlikeleri görüyor. Rusya’nın sahaya inmiş olması bile İran’ın Esad üzerindeki gücünü dengeleyici etkisi göz önüne alınarak değerlendiriliyordu.

Türkiye’nin aksine İsrail Rusya ile oldukça temkinli ve dengeli ilişkiler sürdürmeye özen gösteriyor. Ve karşısına almaktan da kaçındığını not etmek gerek.

Kürtlerin bölgede egemenlik alanlarını genişletmeleri de İsrail’in çıkarlarıyla doğrudan çakışmıyor. Kaldı ki bu kazanımlarım Suriye ölçeğinde özellikle IŞİD tehdidi etkisini yitirdiği takdirde Kürtler tarafından muhafaza edilip edilemeyeceği ayrı bir tartışma konusu.

IŞİD’e gelirsek, Türkiye için hem iç hem dış güvenlik sorunu haline gelen IŞİD, İsrail’in öncelikli sorunu değil.

İsrail için bölgede varoluşsal tehdit unsuru teşkil eden ülke İran. Türkiye ise komşuluğun gerektirdiği dengeyi gözetmek adına bir süredir izlediği Sünni eksenli dış politikada revizyon yapabileceği işaretlerini verdi geçtiğimiz hafta.

Bölgede süregelen mezhep eksenli vesayet savaşları İsrail’in rakiplerinin enerjilerini ve kaynaklarını sömürerek elini güçlendiriyor. Bu bağlamda her ne kadar kırılgan temeller üzerine kurulsa da Körfez ülkeleri ile İsrail arasında benzerine az rastlanır ittifaklar geliştirmesine olanak tanıyor.

Enerji işbirliğinin hem İsrail hem Türk tarafının iştahını açtığı malum. Yine de İsrail açısından Türkiye üzerinden gaz ihracatı en elverişli seçenek olsa da tek seçenek değil.Yunanistan, Kıbrıs, Mısır ve Ürdün arasında giderek gelişen işbirliğinin yanı sıra İsrail odağını sadece Akdeniz ve Avrupa ile sınırlamak yerine Uzakdoğu pazarını da içine alacak şekilde daha geniş perspektiften oyun kurmaya çalışıyor.

Ezcümle, İsrail stratejik açıdan bu anlaşmaya Türkiye’nin kendisinden daha çok ihtiyacı olduğunu varsayımıyla süreci ağırdan alıyor. Her şeye rağmen, Arap olmayan iki seküler gücün bölgede yeni bir düzen kurulurken, karşı karşıya gelmektense, beraber hareket etmekten çıkar sağlayacağına dair stratejik bakış normalleşme sürecini teşvik etmekte. Ancak bu, iki ülkenin çıkarlarının birebir örtüştüğü veya ortak tehdit algısına sahip oldukları anlamına gelmiyor. Anlaşma imzalandığı takdirde ilişkilerin rayına oturmasının zaman alacağını göz önünde bulundurmakta fayda var.

What’s Tunisia got that Turkey doesn’t?

Head-turning remarks by Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, about abandoning political Islam have left their mark on Turkey’s debate on secularism. Turkey’s parliamentary speaker recently recommended the removal of secularism from the country’s charter – putting paid to suggestions that Turkey was a secular Muslim model for the region – while the Tunisian parliament’s largest party, which hails from Islamist roots, has declared its commitment to secularism, recommending the exclusion of religion from politics.

Considering Ghannouchi’s political past, particularly Ennahda’s ambiguous approach to Salafi jihadists, we have every reason to doubt his sincerity. However, five years after the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia and its path deserves appraisal.

The Arab Spring categorically revealed that the idea of a “model state” was too problematic and unfeasible.

Beyond the fact the models had their own flaws and were subject to changes over time, as with Turkey, the promotion of democracy was also inapplicable to countries that differed from each other in terms of their levels of institutionalism, socio-political structures and behavior of their decision-makers.

As such, there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for political modernization. Besides, political setbacks and counter-coups during the Arab Spring displayed once more that neither modernization nor democratization consisted of a linear progressive process.

Against this background, Tunisia stands out as an exceptional case in the Arab Springfor having come a long way on the bumpy road of democratic transition, ending decades of authoritarian governance.

A homogenous society, neutral military and robust civil society with strong trade unions have all contributed to Tunisia’s success. One should also add the quality of the education system and the high literacy rates, which could explain the societal tendency toward secularism from a modernization perspective.

But Tunisia has its own flaws just like any other country. Lacking natural resources and crippled by a culture of corruption, the country struggles to maintain its industry by relying on foreign aid and investment.

One of the major problems facing Tunisians has always been the high rate of unemployment, which averages around 15 percent – rising to 30 percent or more in some parts.

It was this frustration that led Mohamed Bouazizi to immolate himself in 2010, thus sparking the Arab Spring.

Five years on, the post-revolutionary transition period has failed to deliver the expected prosperity to Tunisians.

Worse, terrorist attacks last year dealt a severe blow to tourism, which accounts for 8 percent of the economy.

Leaving aside all the destabilizing effects of the civil war in Libya, having a large number of young unemployed frustrated people explains why Tunisia – despite its secular culture – has become the country that exports the highest number of foreign jihadists in the region.

Subsequently, on material terms, making comparisons between Tunisia and Turkey is unfair, as Turkey clearly outstrips Tunisia in many aspects. However, what makes Tunisian politics more promising than Turkey’s is its respect for consensus building.

Unfortunately, the high levels of political polarization in Turkey render reconciliation almost impossible. What’s more, compromise is often perceived as weakness in our political culture.

In contrast, in Tunisia, Ennahda chose to deliberately blaze a new trail by compromising on ideological tenets rather than escalate tension.

After suffering under dictatorship for decades, Tunisian society embraced secular democratic principles as the guarantee of their freedom.

It was through the political will for consensus building that the National Dialogue Quartet emerged in 2013 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015 for mediating a peaceful political transition.

But the story might have taken a completely different turn if Ennahda had refused to hand power to a technocratic caretaker government in 2014.

At the end of the day, Ghannouchi might be trying to increase Ennahda’s appeal to a larger constituency so as to transform it into a mass party, but there are lessons to be drawn from Tunisia’s experience for Turkey, particularly at a time when it is sliding dangerously toward a majoritarian understanding of democracy – or worse.

As NATO bolsters its southern flank

In the wake of Montenegro’s admission to NATO and the activation of NATO’s first land-based ballistic missile defense system in Romania, attention has been focused on the escalating tensions between the West and Russia in the Black Sea, in what is being dubbed the new Cold War. The rapid developments last week suggest that NATO is willing to enhance not only its eastern but also its southern flanks, and therefore play a larger role in the Mediterranean.

Faced with mounting rocket attacks from Syria, which have caused dozens of casualties in Kilis since January, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently warned that Ankaramight take unilateral action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria if partners in the multinational coalition fail to deliver support.

The following day, U.S. President Barack Obama and Erdoğan reportedly discussed joint efforts to defeat ISIL militants in Syria, with an emphasis on the importance of international cooperation and the U.S. commitment to Turkey’s security as a NATOmember.

Not coincidentally, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg subsequently said in Brussels that the situation in Kilis was high on their agenda, underlining NATO’s solidarity with Turkey.

In this respect, a tailored package of assistance measures, which includes the dispatch of additional NATO ships and aircraft to the region will occur before a summit in Warsaw on July 8-9.

Italy is reportedly planning to send SAMP-T missiles – the latest generation of surface-to-air defense missile systems – in addition to NATO’s pledge to dispatch new Airborne Warning and Control systems (AWACS) by July.

Owing to the escalation of the ISIL missile attacks against Turkey, the U.S. decided to deploy high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) rocket launchers along Turkey’s border in May. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that NATO allies hoped to assist moderate Syrian opposition groups on the ground with this system.

For quite a while, there has been an ongoing debate between Washington and Ankaraabout the ground forces to be engaged in the operations to seal of the Manbij area, which lies at the southern end of the 98-kilometer border Turkey shares with Syria that is controlled by ISIL.

Turkey adamantly opposes the U.S. cooperation with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which constitutes the backbone of the Democratic Syrian Forces. Instead, Ankarahas been promoting a new plan, which relies on Syrian Arab tribes instead of Syrian Kurds in taking over the area from ISIL.

Seeking to draw NATO into the Syrian equation, Turkey expects the moderate opposition – defined on its own terms – to advance on the ground, and therefore pave the way for the de facto establishment of a safe zone, which Ankara has been demanding for years.

In this context, a crucial question is whether there could be some quid pro quo with NATO getting further engaged in the Syrian conflict in return for a move permitting a permanent NATO naval presence in the Black Sea in contravention of the Montreux Agreement of 1936.

Professor Nurşin Güney, vice president and security and nuclear energy fellow at the Wise Men Center For Strategic Studies (Bilgesam), argues that NATO’s security strategies from the Cold War no longer function in terms of deterring either conventional (rocket attacks) or unconventional threats such as global terrorism. In this respect, as a NATO member, Ankara’s protection under the collective defense mechanism as stated in Article 5 of the alliance’s treaty –unless additional deterrence measures are taken-continues to be at stake.

So far, NATO has refrained from clashing directly with Russia and thus even framed the crisis in November 2015 as a conflict between two countries.

Güney asserts that NATO’s plans to bolster its southern flank with increasing naval presence in the Mediterranean and deployment of defense systems not only aims at deterring Russia, but is in fact part of a broader strategy to stabilize the region and control the migrant flow. As such, NATO’s involvement in the Syrian conflict at some point has to involve reconciliation with Russia, thus she excludes the option of direct military engagement.

As for the Montreux Convention, Güney claims that it is Turkey’s strongest bargaining chip not only against the West but also against Russia.

It is true that since the downing of the Russian jet, Turkey has rediscovered the value of its Western alliance ties. However, maintaining a healthy balance between the West and the rest is crucial for a middle power like Turkey, especially when sitting in such a precarious geopolitical location.