Turkey’s Puzzle with a Divided GCC

The longevity of the Gulf crisis presents challenges to Turkey’s regional policy. First, Ankara’s strong support of Qatar makes Turkey a party to the conflict rather than a mediator, further diminishing its soft power capacity on the Arab street. Second, Turkey’s long-term goals, such as reaching a Free Trade Agreement with the GCC and cooperating in the Gulf defense sector, look unrealistic now, unless the parties involved can reach a durable resolution. Third, a Turkish-Iranian rapprochement is further strengthened as the Qatar crisis becomes more enduring. Turkey’s long-term interests in Iraq, however, strongly overlap with Saudi interests, thus demanding Ankara-Riyadh cooperation. READ MORE

Turkey’s Incursion into Idlib: Challenges Ahead

After arduous efforts to reach an agreement with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)—formerly known as al-Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaeda—the Turkish Armed Forces have deployed troops in northern Idlib across from People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions in the Afrin area. Ankara appears to manage Russian demands without engaging in clashes with HTS militants, and at the same time, to pursue its major goal of surrounding the Kurdish enclave of Afrin. Turkey’s incursion into Idlib, however, may not promise success to Ankara in the long term. READ MORE

Turkey’s Hard Choices in Syria and Iraq

Turkish foreign policy appears compartmentalized for the foreseeable future: in Syria, Ankara will prioritize securing its borders from the emerging threat of a Syrian Kurdistan (also known as Rojava) by cooperating with Moscow; in Iraq, it will seek US support against both the PKK and the Shia militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces. However, while appearing practical, such compartmentalization will pose significant challenges for Turkish influence. READ MORE