GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Ozden Zeynep
Title of Paper:
The Arab Spring and Its Impact on Turkey and GCC Partnership
Paper Proposal Text :
Turkey and GCC partnership has started to gain momentum since 2008 when the foreign ministers of GCC declared a country (Turkey) as a strategic partner for the first time in Jeddah. Thus, Turkey and the GCC countries would be able to build institutionalized relations with each other. In parallel with this, Turkey also developed good neighbourhood relations with Iran whose nuclear efforts were perceived as principal threat to GCC countries’ existence. Turkey’s increasing trade relations with Iran and Syria did not have a negative impact on Turkey-GCC countries relations, on the contrary, Turkey with its NATO membership, Sunni population, relatively developed democracy and economy was perceived by the GCC countries as a partner which could balance the assertive policies of Iran. With the outburst of the Arab spring, Turkey’s Middle East activism based on trade relations with the regional countries changed into a negative way to a large extent.
This study will mainly analyze possible consequences of the Arab spring on Turkey’s relations with GCC countries with a special reference to Turkey’s diverging interests with Iran after Ankara’s consent to the deployment of the NATO missile defense shield system and Erdoğan’s harsh statements concerning the Bashar Assad regime’s violent repression against the civilian population in Syria.

In the first part of the article, Turkey’s trade based foreign policy will be explained with respect to understanding the reasons why the AKP government wanted the bilateral relations with the GCC countries to take a new turn beginning with 2005. Secondly, the study will discuss the fact that while Turkey’s belonging to the West and its institutional relations with the West has been a barrier in its relations with the neighbouring countries, principally Iran, it can be said that those relations with the West, especially Turkey’s membership to NATO furthers the relations with the GCC countries on the basis of stopping aggressiveness of Iran in the strait of Hormuz. In this context it will be investigated whether the future relations with the GCC countries will be confined only to the trade relations or whether Turkey can serve “as a conduit between the GCC and NATO, hence, Europeans. In fact, upon mainly Turkey’s initiative, NATO declared its intention to develop further ties with the Middle East states in January 2004, an initiative known as the Istanbul Cooperation (ICI).” (Başkan: 2011-165) Thirdly, Turkey’s posture towards the uprisings in Bahrain and Yemen and its impact on the Turkey-GCC relations will be other concern of the article so as to understand the sustainability of the strategic partnership between Turkey and the GCC members. The most important of all, the study will discuss the impact of Turkey’s diverging interests with Iran and deteriorating relations with Syria on Turkey-GCC relations at a time when Arab spring shakes up regional power balance.