RSIS Seminar by Professor Özlem Tür, Visiting Senior Fellow, RSIS; and Professor of International Relations, and Chair of the Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Turkey and the Syrian Civil War: Re-thinking Identity and Interest
Eight years into Syria’s civil war, Turkey has become even more embroiled in the conflict. Turkish military intervention there is directly related with the rise of Kurdish groups in Syria which is seen as an intensification of Kurdish nationalism, considered an existential threat to Turkey’s national security. Turkey is forced to delicately manage relations with multiple powers, including Russia, Iran and the United States. Neither Russia nor Iran favour Kurdish autonomy, let alone independence, and would like to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regain firm control of all of Syria. For its part, Turkey has signalled that it envisions playing a long-term role in Syrian Kurdish areas adjacent to the Turkish border. Turkey’s attitude towards the Assad government remains ambiguous. Turkey has long called for regime change in Syria. At the same time, Turkish relations with its fellow NATO member, the United States, are strained over America’s alliance with Syrian Kurdish forces against the Islamic State.
This seminar will look at the evolution of Turkish-Syrian relations, the various phases of Turkish involvement in the Syrian crisis, the resulting foreign and domestic policy challenges Turkey faces, Syria’s impact on Turkey’s regional role and identity, and the risk Turkey runs of being drawn ever deeper into the Middle East’s multiple conflicts.
About the Speaker
Özlem Tür is Professor and Chair of Department of International Relations at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. She holds a Ph.D. from the Center for Middle East Studies at University of Durham, UK. Her main expertise include Turkey’s relations with the Middle East (especially Syria, Israel and Lebanon) and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some of her publications include: “Paradoxes in Turkey’s Syria Policy: Analysing the Critical Episode of Agenda Building”, (New Perspectives on Turkey, 2016 (with Mehmet Akif Kumral), “Engaging with the Middle East: Rise and Fall of Turkish Leadership in the 2000s” in Turkey’s Public Diplomacy, Palgrave MacMillan, 2015, “Turkey and the Syrian Crisis: Deepening Regional and Domestic Challenges”, ORIENT, 2015, “Turkey’s Changing Relations with the Middle East: New Challenges and Opportunities in the 2000s” in Debating Security in Turkey – Challenges and Changes in the Twenty-First Century, Lexington, 2013, Turkey-Syria Relations – Between Enmity and Amity (London: Ashgate, 2013, co-edited with Raymond Hinnebusch); “Turkey and Israel in the 2000s”, Israel Studies, 2012; “Political Economy of Turkey’s Relations with the Middle East”, Turkish Studies, 2011.