MESOP TODAYS ANALYSIS : “The populism/realism gap: Managing uncertainty in Turkey’s politics and foreign policy” (Nora Fisher Onar, Brookings Institution)

 “There is also danger in the reverse dynamic when unrealistic foreign policy positions are leveraged for domestic popularity. At best, this creates unnecessary tension, as with Trump’s description of China as an ‘enemy.’ And all too often, such postures come at high domestic and international costs. A case in point is the recent confrontation between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the November 24 shooting down of a Russian jet. The move was driven by both leaders’ aspirations to become regional kingmakers in general and define outcomes in Syria in particular. The result, however, has been an economic, diplomatic, and security fallout, especially for the smaller of the two players: Turkey. Russian sanctions may cost Turkey some .5 percent of GDP, and the face-off has put its NATO allies in an awkward position, given the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles Russia has now put on the ground in Syria.

The move, moreover, has complicated any plans Ankara may have had to balance strategic relationships in the West with more intensive Eurasian engagements (e.g. with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization of which Russia is a founding member). In short, the volatile relationship between populism and realism has become a driver of uncertainty in Turkey’s politics and international relations, a dynamic this paper will assess.” Read all