GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
The prospects of GCC-Turkey cooperation and the Syria crisis
Paper Proposal Text :
The uncontrolled spread of revolts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) over the last years has caused the transformation of the regional political landscape in an extent unseen since the end of colonialism. The Arab Uprisings escaped prediction and challenged long-held theories dominant in the field of International Relations while opening up new areas of academic inquire. Under these circumstances renewed interest has been expressed in Turkey’s and the GCC’s states role in the regional subsystem. For scholars specializing in the region, the recent events represent an important opportunity to develop new research questions. My paper will focus on the implications of the Arab Uprisings and more specifically of the Syrian conflict on the progression towards an increased cooperation between Turkey and the GCC.
Through a regionalist perspective, I intend to investigate the complexities surrounding this subject at the domestic, regional and international level. My research will be based on a neoclassical realist theoretical framework which allows the inclusion of domestic factors as part of the causal chain in the analysis. The regionalist approach -committed to methodological pluralism- combines empirical area studies with International Relations theory. Assuming that in the post-Cold War era the regional level stands more clearly on its own, I argue that the chosen perspective is more appropriate for the study of the political morphology and the security interactions in the Middle Eastern regional subsystem. What interests have driven the Turkish and GCC policies in the MENA region during the last two decades? How have they responded to the upheavals unfolding along its borders? The questions guiding my research paper are directed at exploring the possible implications that the ongoing transformational procedure in the MENA region could have for the emergence of a Turkey-GCC axis.

To explore these issues my paper would start by a brief analysis of GCC and Turkey’s current status as actors in international affairs and security. First and foremost, I will outline the multitude of factors and forces promoting or undermining their external political actorhood, the structural complexity of their foreign policy institutions and the persistence of national foreign policy traditions. Furthermore, I will concentrate on the significance of Syria for the two actors. Indeed, geographical proximity as well as a number of linkages made them vulnerable to spill-over effects of instability.
The second part of the proposed research paper will focus on the underlying causes, recent developments and future prospects of the ongoing Syrian conflict. Taking my PhD dissertation as a starting point of analysis I will describe the historical background of the phenomenon and the current evolutions which could have long-lasting effects on the MENA regional subsystem and its relations to its external partners. While the situation remains in a state of uncertainty what was Ankara’s reaction to the changing configuration of its southern neighborhood? Could we define a GCC strategic interest in the future political constellation?
The main objective of the final part of the study will be to outline and understand the likely course of GCC-Turkey cooperation in foreign policy, security and defense after the Arab Uprisings. The Middle East region is permeated by the presence of new and old external actors, that include both traditional powers, such as the United States and Russia, as well as other regional and global actors, which are increasingly active. Could regional developments constitute a factor for the further development of a Turkish-GCC strategic partnership?