In the 100-year history of the Republic of Turkey, the current level of foreign policy gridlock has almost never been experienced.
This is a consequence of the breakdown of the “policy of balance” pursued by previous governments; traditional Turkish foreign policy was based on being in the Western fold through membership in NATO and the Council of Europe, using the fact that the majority of the country’s population is Muslim in the Islamic geography and the identity of being a cognate in Central Asia and the Balkans. “Cautious” but friendly relations with Russia and non-interference in the internal affairs of countries in the Middle East were also among the main pillars of the policy.
Under the AK Party governments, all of these policies have been turned on their head;
Instead of a “cautious” relationship with Russia, a “relationship of dependence” on Moscow, especially in the energy sector, was created;
Turkey has become a “sanctioned” country in the NATO camp by its NATO allies.
During the Syrian war and the coup in Egypt, the principle of “non-interference in the internal affairs of neighbors” was shattered, causing damage to relations with the Muslim world that will take generations to repair.
Just as this balance was being restored with the mediation/facilitation role in the Russia-Ukraine war, the Gaza chaos came. President Erdoğan’s repeated statement “We do not accept Hamas as a terrorist organization” destroyed the balance that was about to be established with the West, while on the other hand, the continuation of trade relations with Israel raised eyebrows once again in the Muslim world.
In order to somehow redress the balance, the AK Party government tried to appeal to the “Islamic identity”; in this context, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan joined the contact group formed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Fidan participated in the contact group’s visits to the UK and the US, both permanent members of the UN Security Council.
However, these countries are also NATO members, including Turkey. If Turkey had wanted to, Fidan could have held bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of these countries and delivered the same message as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation delegation, but with the weight of “NATO member Turkey”. Instead, the AK Party government has emphasized its “Islamic” identity, and downplayed its “NATO member” identity. It has, so to speak, marginalized Turkey in the face of NATO member UN Security Council members.
To make matters worse, this attitude did not work; the US administration again vetoed the draft resolution on a ceasefire in Gaza in the Security Council, which convened upon the UN Secretary General’s call based on Article 99 of the UN Charter, which has been little used until now. Moreover, the Muslim world did not “embrace” this attitude of the AK Party government. In Iran, for example, Turkey’s trade with Israel is now being “satirized” on the official social media accounts of almost every government official. It was not enough;
SCANDALOUS TREATMENT OF THE PALESTINIAN MINISTER
A diplomatic scandal also emerged during the OIC delegation’s visit to Washington. While the OIC delegation, including Hakan Fidan, was holding a press conference in Washington about their contacts, journalists wanted to ask a question to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who was sitting at the table with the delegation. The minister did not speak. The Saudi minister in the delegation explained why he did not speak: “The visa issued by the United States prohibits him from making statements…”
The saddest part of the matter is that no one from the OIC delegation members who “came to the United States to defend the rights of the Palestinian people” reacted to this treatment of the Palestinian minister.
In other words, the “Palestinian cause”, of which Islamic countries are supposed to be the flag bearers, has been lost from the very beginning. What is being done is nothing but futile diplomatic tours just for the show.