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What does Turkey want in Syria and why?

19 December, 2016



This first paper in the DCAF-STRATIM paper series by Suat Kiniklioglu analyses the development of Turkey’s policy towards Syria since the start of the Arab Uprisings. It illustrates the factors which contributed to the shift in Ankara’s foreign policy focus towards Syria; from its role as the strongest advocate for regime change, to the sole focus on the prevention of a Kurdish consolidated geographical and political entity in Syria.

The author describes how Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ahmed Davutoğlu saw the Arab Uprisings as a unique “Turkish moment” that could allow the country to regain its long-lost international grandeur. “Ankara detected that the Muslim Brotherhood was on the rise in the region. In Tunisia, the Ennahda Movement; in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhvan); and in many other Middle Eastern countries - including Syria - Ikhvan-affiliated movements were on the march.”

The author concludes that “contrasting with the initial enthusi­asm about a "Turkish Moment" when the Arab Uprisings erupted, Ankara will have to settle, it seems, for a much more modest outcome than originally envisaged in 2011.