The Changing Role and Position of Turkish Armed Forces in Turkish Foreign Policy

    The Turkish Armed Forces have been discussed substantially during the last few years in the context of Turkish Foreign Policy due to new developments in the military; such as building a military base in Qatar and Somalia, technological transformation, the S400 strategic defence system deal with Russia, and operations in Iraq and particularly in Syria.

    Historically, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) were identified as one of the most significant institutions, if it was not the most, within the Turkish domestic and international political sphere. Turkey was formed under the strong modernist perspective of Turkish military cadres. However, after the consolidation of the power of civil politics in Turkey during the Justice and Development Party (JDP) era, TAF became the primary foreign policy instrument of the state after once being its sole determinant.

    Consolidating the power of civil government to rescue from the power struggle between army and government led JDP to improve the diplomatic capability of Turkey. This process caused substantial changes not only in the domestic but also in the foreign politics of Turkey as well. On the basis of these changes, Turkey attempts to redesign its type of relationship with the other countries specifically Western powers and institutions along with changing the way of doing the foreign policy as using the military as a foreign policy instrument. For instance, when Turkey perceived that NATO and specifically the US do not prioritise the Turkey’s security concerns in Syria, Turkey launched to military operation in Syria. However, it should not be understood that Turkey had a different direction from the West and against the western institutions. For instance, while France, Germany and the US openly opposed the Turkey’s latest operation in Syria, foreign ministers of the UK and Netherland supported the right of Turkey’s operations against the PKK and PKK affiliated groups in Syria.

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