Turkey’s Growing Military Influence

Turkey views itself increasingly compelled to generate new strategies in foreign and security policy by combining both soft and hard power instruments because of the changing dynamics during the post-Arab Spring period. While Turkey was seen as a role model during the Arab Spring for neighboring countries that were in transition from autocratic to democratic forms of governance, this model lost its appeal due to violent toppling of democratically elected regimes as well as the escalation of conflicts in the wider Middle East. For instance, Turkey lost its political and economic ties in Egypt after the coup d’état in 2013. The Syrian civil war bears economic, social and security implications for Turkey. Hence, in order to preserve its political and economic power in the region in the wake of hostile developments around the country, Turkey began to search for other mechanisms to wield its influence. As a result, Turkey has found itself launching military bases in Qatar and Somalia and military intervention in Syria.

Turkey has accelerated its military activity in the Middle East in an attempt to alter the regional balance of power in its favor. Apart from Qatar and Somalia, Turkish military bases as well as its deterrence capabilities can be observed in Northern Cyprus and Iraqi Kurdistan. Additionally, Ankara provides military training as well as equipping to the military of key Central Asian countries, which also enables increased Turkish influence in this region. Moreover, Turkey`s recent incursion into northern Syria has also illustrated technological advances in its defense industry. Taking all of these developments into consideration, it can be said that Turkey has transformed itself into a crucial player whose influence impacts not only the Middle East but also farther afield, stretching from the Caucasus to Sub-Saharan Africa.

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