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Stones, figs and Mount Olive And the ever-betrayed al-Quds hold their breath and listen to the sound of David reciting the psalms of intifada (Berdal Aral)

THERE ARE A FAIRLY LIMITED NUMBER of studies dealing with Turkish Foreign Policy from a theoretical and historical background. [1] Analyses of Turkish Foreign Policy in the last decade have ranged from bold, new-activist daring to extremely cautious. Many of these new perspectives could be loosely described as some form of neo-Ottomanism. [2] These numerous points of view generally share a common denominator, however, in their focus on disputes over national and/or group identity in domestic politics, which has also begun to play an increasingly influential role in Turkish foreign policy. In the 1990s, Turkey found itself in the midst of an entirely new international political configuration. More so than at any other time in the more than 70-year history of the republic, it has felt the burdens of history bearing down heavily on its shoulders. With the end of the Cold War, Turkey's borders have become increasingly blurred, and its national identity thrown into profound crisis.

Strategically located amidst the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia, Turkey has been asked to respond to crises in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Palestine, often floundering in a contradictory cycle of expectations, promises, and performance. Turkey's new openness to the outside world following the end of Cold War tensions have allowed Turkish citizens to better acquaint themselves with people beyond national borders with whom they have religious, linguistic, and racial ties. As a result, new fault lines and contradictions have emerged in domestic politics, and the military elite has struggled mightily to maintain its characteristic iron-clad control over the course of events. The National Security Council, dominated by members of the military, has continued to exert a great deal of influence over politicians, continuing to be the major voice or decision maker in the development of both domestic and foreign policy.

The official elite, headed by the military, reached its peak of power in the aftermath of the watershed decisions made on 28 February 1997. Mammoth efforts on the part of the elite in economic and politic spheres as well as the media, to radically decrease Islamic influence in the public arena, have signaled certain cues as to where Turkish politics, including its foreign policy, will be headed in the future. The major contribution of this paper is intended to suggest that the key element in understanding Turkish politics today lies in the clashes between "globalists" and "nationalists" and in certain courses of action adopted by the major political actors who have been forced to redefine their agendas in the face of ever-increasing domestic tensions. This tension is, of course, reflected in debates over Turkish foreign policy. Matters are made still worse as a result of friction and conflict among the elite themselves, those who determine the course of foreign policy.

In what follows, I offer a framework for understanding the contemporary shape of domestic politics and some reflections concerning foreign policy development with a special focus on Turkey's foreign policy with respect to the Jerusalem question. Most importantly, I argue that Turkish foreign policy with regard to Jerusalem represents an especially clear example of the way in which the pressures of societal demands are reflected in Turkish foreign policy. This is of critical importance insofar as the contribution of domestic impulses, expectations, norms, and values to the development of Turkish foreign policy represents a major deviation from the bureaucratic-authoritarian model that has long dominated the development of Turkish foreign policy. First, I deal with identity disputes, since they represent the principal driving force of the changing landscape of Turkish foreign policy, especially with respect to the question of Jerusalem. I then proceed with a historical overview of policies concerning Jerusalem in the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic, followed by my own critical perspective of Turkish foreign policy in this regard.


Theoretical Background

Numerous theoretical works have dealt with the impact of civic identities on political perceptions and interests, and how they serve to influence the development of a nation's foreign policy. Disputes over identity existed long before the pioneering theories of Hegel. In the post-Cold-War era, new theoretical frameworks are being developed that provide analysts of international relations with new tools to understand the increasingly complex nature of today's international political scenario. The growing interest in the theoretical political analysis of our post-Cold-War era has given rise to new schools of thought and the development of new theoretical paradigms in the field. [3] Constructivism and developments in critical theory are the two most important theoretical trends in this regard, although it is difficult to depict them as well-defined schools of thought due to their diverse patterns of ongoing development and the numerous theoretical foundations from the social sciences upon which they rely.

Constructivism, or more accurately 'constructivisms', have resulted in new and promising criteria for analyzing actors in international politics. Many constructivist arguments stand in sharp contrast to the assumptions of traditional international relations theories. According to the constructivist-culturalist perspective, for example, state interests are not the result of self-interested, rational actors. Rather, these interests are seen as constructed through processes of social interaction; political/cultural identity, therefore, comes to be seen as a relational and controversial attribute of the collective distinctiveness of state/nationhood. [4] In contrast to the rationalistic epistemology of traditional international relations theories, constructivism depends on an intersubjectivist epistemology, emphasizing the importance of process and interaction, rather than material structure, on actor preferences. Referring to variations in the meaning of statehood under the same structural conditions, construct ivists take the social embeddedness of states into consideration. In the constructivist conception of international relations, contested constructions of actor identities are major determinants of interest-formation. [5] In this line of thought, societal constructivism claims that the values, norms, and principles of the society constitute main inputs in foreign policy formulation process.

The problem of Jerusalem's status and its future constitutes an important case study for constructivist research in international relations. It is not a simple part of the occupied territories that became a subject of struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. For example it cannot be compared with Eriha [Jericho], which was subject to same diplomacy before, and it did not evolve to such a complicated position. The extraordinary symbolic importance attached to the city and the existence of holy places for three monotheistic religions makes the Jerusalem issue a global problem with the possible involvement of many sides at different levels. In this sense, the different cultures, worldviews and ideologies, mainly inscribed from religious positions, have different positions regarding the status and future of Jerusalem with strong objection to hegemony of one side, in particular Jewish domination. The reason behind this staunch objection to hegemony is the fear that others' symbolic and material existence may be destroyed. Here the collective memory produces a societal norm that is very resistant to change and influential in foreign policy making process. Turkish foreign policy is no exception in this regard.

The tradition of constructivist/culturalist criticism has provided us with many enlightening ideas concerning the nature of international relations. Its emphasis on the relevance and theoretical/practical validity of analyses of the foreign policy making process, with a special focus on culture, identity and norms, has been a valuable contribution to the discipline. In some ways, these new perspectives can be understood, at least in part, as a projection of recent political thought developed in the West into the wider arena of international politics. Just as the contemporary western political thought transformed its conception of the individual from a homogeneous, unitary and undifferentiated category of the public sphere to an ambivalent and heterogeneous mode of publicity, recent developments in international relations theory have paved the way for alternative conceptualizations of states as socially contingent, intersubjectively constructed agents, rather than unitary and homogeneous actors. Just as in ce rtain strands of recent political thought we observe a heightened interest in normative content and socio-moral dimension of society, the possibility of a certain kind of normative base for the conduct of international affairs has often been explored by the proponents of these new perspectives. [6]

When we proceed from the theoretical discussion laying out the relationship between identity and foreign policy specifically in regard to the particulars of Turkey, it is clear that Turkish foreign policy is guided by the governing elite or the identity/world-view Weltanschauung of the establishment. Distinct foreign policy perceptions, resulting from the hybridization created by individual perceptions of identity, guide Turkish foreign policy makers as well as a variety of other identities within the establishment, those groups which have a voice in the development of Turkey's foreign relations. Turkish foreign policy is largely dominated by the Kemalist elite and conducted via co-operation between the military and the foreign policy elite, the military's subordinate allies. [7] Different elite identities give birth to different demands, and attempts to influence foreign policy, a great deal of effort is spent by elite sub-groups in their efforts to influence Turkey's foreign policy. In the broadest sense, however, the identities that have the broadest presence are Kemalist and Islamist along with Nationalist and Conservative identities; it is important for the experts to unravel the vast influence that these world-views have exercised over Turkish foreign policy. In this paper, a perspective of the identity-foreign policy relationship particular to Turkey will be presented, accompanied by a classification differing from the existing literature.

Different Identities, Different Directions

The dominant identity or identities of the elite establishment define themselves according to the principle of national interest with respect to foreign policy. The Kemalist identity is the product of a pragmatic-eclectic ideology that took shape on an international level in the 1920s and l930s, and is inspired by the Comtean positivism adopted by certain Ottoman intellectuals at the end of the 19th century, as well as the process of Westernization initiated during this same period. The foundational elements of the Kemalist identity are an abandonment of the Ottoman past, the termination of Islamic power in the public sphere -- preventing it from functioning as a source of political legitimacy -- an understanding of citizenship that excludes non-Muslim minorities, all within an ethno-linguistic and territorial conception of state.

While clamoring for increased modernization and Westernization so as to elevate Turkey to the economic level of the civilized world, official identity, at the same time, has been home to distrust and a latent enmity towards the West inherited from the Ottoman administrative elite. Ataturk's, the founder of modern Turkey, principle of "Peace at Home, Peace in the World" has long been a dominant rallying cry, and foreign policy makers have conducted foreign policies in an introverted and bashful manner. The "establishment media" follows closely along with the ideological positions of the foreign policy elite, constantly struggling to legitimize the regime's stance. Nationalist foreign policy has followed a cautious and reluctant policy towards the EU, due to demands for increasing democratization and greater respect for human rights in Turkey; the EU's hesitancy to sell Turkey military equipment has also been a source of great friction. Turkey is more comfortable in its relations with the U.S., which does not question Turkey concerning its internal affairs or domestic politics as does the EU. The paranoia, or Sevres Syndrome, which has a long history among the Turkish people, turns on the notion that the country is surrounded by enemies and constantly faces the danger of break-up or partition, this distinctively Turkish view of the world still plays a vital role in shaping the minds of Nationalist foreign policy makers. Foreign policies come to be extensions of domestic politics and the "others" excluded during the construction of the Kemalist identity provide negative input for foreign policy formulation, making foreign policy hostage to considerations of the establishment identity. In the end, ideological narrowing in domestic politics causes foreign policies to be harsher, less sensitive to change and less flexible.

Conducting foreign policies in line with an understanding of mere security is in conformity with the growing role of the military over foreign policies. Turkish Foreign Ministry officials, as noted, currently operate under the military's supervision as docile allies. Although their ideas differ with regard to many issues, the military's influence on Turkish politics eliminates these differences. Set up after the 1960 coup and reinforcing its position after the 1982 coup, the National Security Council, dominated by members of the military, has become the supervisory power over Turkish politics after the soft, post-modern coup of 28 February 1997. The Turkish military sees itself as the intrepid defender of the Republic, the guardian of the secular Turkish regime. The strength of the military, in part, is derived from the respect that it has long commanded in the political culture of the Turkish people, though recent polls show that this support has decreased significantly. The military also enjoys a most effe ctive status in political life, despite the Constitution. The National Security Council can easily determine the main agendas of the Turkish government if it so chooses. Governments rarely reject the suggestions of this council, even though it is only an advisory institution according to the law. The concerns of this council are not limited to security issues, but also extend to education, the economy, tourism and even sports. Adherents of the 28 February policies and high ranking military members in charge during the following period adopted a style of action reminiscent of radical Kemalist identity and the leftist Kemalism of the 1970s, and they became increasingly a part of daily political life.

In comparison to official Turkey, Islamist and nationalist elites favor a more assertive foreign policy. The Islamist elite clamors for ever-greater solidarity with Islamic groups abroad and projects Turkey as a potential leader of the Islamic world. The vanguard of Turkish political Islam, formerly the Welfare Party, went so far as to call for a new organization called the Developing Eight (D-8), comprised of Islamic countries, as an alternative to the western-oriented club of industrialized nations, the Group of Seven (G-7).

In general, Islamist circles favor foreign policy goals that emphasize Islamic, rather than Turkish identity. To this end, many Islamic communities have invested heavily in Quranic schools and the building of mosques and neighborhood centers in former Soviet countries to increase Islamic consciousness. However, the leader of one strong Islamic community, Fethullah Gulen, also has a strong Turkish identity and encourages greater attention to the Turkish republics of the former Soviet Union (FSU). Gulen's followers have founded more than 200 schools around the world, from Tanzania to China, but mostly in the Turkish republics of the FSU. These schools promote a philosophy based on Turkish nationalism rather than Islam. From the Balkans to China, Gulen shapes the minds of future elites, with Turkey as their role model. [8]

An unprecedented transformation has been experienced by political Islamists in Turkey, who have been emphasizing the positive aspects of integration with the world, EU membership, democracy and pluralism more than ever. The leader of the reformist wing of the Virtue Party, Abdullah Gal, also responsible for his party's foreign relations, draws attention to the fact that some 3.5 million Turks and 30 million Muslims live in Europe, and stresses that a Muslim Democrat Party in an EU-member Turkey could undertake important responsibilities. [9] Another representative of political Islam, the Grand Union Party, places emphasis on relations with Turkish Republics and Islamic countries while proceeding with caution towards the West.

Another group relating to the Islamist identity is composed of those who occupy a significant position among the Islamist elite and who are called "independent intellectuals," disseminating their views mainly through the Yeni Safak newspaper and Kanal 7, a TV channel. They are sensitive to the Palestinian problem and relations with Israel, and argue for the improvement of relations with Islamic countries. They have a foreign policy view respectful of norms and ethical values and their ideas, shaped by their Islamic orientation, play a remarkable role in terms of shaping the minds of the Muslim population.

Nationalist elites generally support a model of Turkish nationalism that goes far beyond Kemalist territorial nationalism, favoring cooperation and even integration with what is perceived to be the historical homeland of the Turkish people. The early supporters of pan-Turkism considered the East to represent new opportunities for the restoration of the Ottoman Empire. This vast territory, inhabited by people of Turkish origin, was called Turan by the pan-Turkists, named after the mythological birthplace of the Turkish people. The most prominent ideologist of Turkish nationalism, Ziya Gokalp of early the 20th century, defined his imperial ambition quite clearly in the poem Turan: "The country of the Turks is not Turkey, or even Turkistan. Their country is a vast and eternal land: Turan!" According to pan-Turkish ideology, Turkish-speaking people are basically a single people, ranging from Asia Minor far into Asia proper.

In order to better grasp nationalist foreign policy, it is helpful to discuss the Nationalist Action Party (NAP), which is the most popular party among the nationalist masses of Turkish society. Support for this party continuously increased in Turkey and it became a coalition partner following the 1999 parliamentary elections. With respect to foreign policy, NAP tries its best not to grant any concessions with regard to Turkey's Kurdish policy. One might safely assume that allegations of human rights abuses, coming especially from EU countries, will continue, which may put NAP in a difficult position. NAP's rise may also encourage a more active Turkish policy in the Balkans and the exSoviet, Turkish republics. NAP's policy towards the European Union will surely be influenced by their long-time accusation that the EU is trying its best to promote the activities of the PKK in the international arena and to help the PKK gain a political identity in international politics. In NAP's view, the EU seeks to create a Kurdish state in Turkish territory, which, of course, they see as a violation of Turkish sovereignty. The party leadership is also very strict on the question of Cyprus. In their eyes, the existence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is of vital strategic importance for Turkey.

In the past, the intellectuals of this party have regarded the supporters of integration with the EU as native agents of foreign forces, as it was the case in the Ottoman period and during the Turkish War of Independence. [10] They strongly favor a unified nation-state and will not consider any proposal that would contradict this fundamental political principle. For this reason, they fully endorse Turkey's increasing ties with Israel, which is considered to be especially important for promoting Turkey's national interests in the Middle East. The former leader of the party, Alparslan Turkes, cultivated close relations with the Jewish population of Turkey and also actively supported close ties with Israel. The assistance of the Zionist lobby in the U.S. in counterbalancing the anti-Turkey political movements of the U.S. Armenian Diaspora, in particular, have led Turkish nationalists to warm up to Israel. NAP also favors a series of strategic alliances with the regions surrounding Turkey. Among these are friend ship and cooperation treaties with the Caucasus, countries in the Middle East, the Balkans, and an East Mediterranean Alliance, to be formed between Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Palestine. In addition to these alliances, NAP would like to establish a common market among the Turkish republics, as part of a Eurasian Project supported by a new ministry dedicated to promoting the interests of the Turkish World.

Tracing the roots of the Conservative identity, which dates far back in Turkish history, is more difficult than other movements and political-social attitudes discussed so far. Each of the four other main political-ideological movements in Turkey, classified as Ottomanism, Westernism, Islamism and Turkism, especially after the period of the 2 nd Constitution, placed varying levels of emphasis on the protection of certain ideas and institutions that were remnants of the past. This has been less true in terms of the Conservatism identity.

Within these individual but connected movements there is none that can be defined as "conservatism" in the sense used in political literature. In this regard, Conservatism has not appeared as a movement in itself, but rather is vested as a form hidden in (or innate to) these movements as an attitude, a stance. Moreover, representing itself in daily politics as an attitude, Conservatism has become evident in the decades following the foundation of the Turkish Republic. As an attitude it expresses itself through a synthesis of attempts to adopt a multiparty political system within the tradition of the Democrat Party, and following within the neo-conservatism (with a specific emphasis on a market economy) of former President Turgut Ozal. However, this expression has not appeared as an individual, compact and autonomous identity, but as one that has been displayed in various contexts as an attitude or standing. Two clear conclusions in this regard are as follows: the Conservative identity started to crystallize in the Republican period and the Conservative identity is not an individual, relatively independent movement or identity with clear borders, as is the case in Islamist, Kemalist-Westernist and Nationalist-Idealist identities, but one that becomes evident through its various practices and that exists in various contexts.

That Conservatism became evident after the foundation of the Republic implies that its political-social demands are not finally and radically in contradiction with essential principles of the Republic and the state, within the political-doctrinaire borders of the (and not attempting to supersede) new regime. That is, the new order is admitted, and demands must be limited within the order. It is important to note that although certain figures characterized mainly by their conservative identities (Yahya Kemal, Tanpmar, Peyami Safa, Nurettin Topcu) have certain ideas and agendas strictly in opposition with those of the new regime, they introduced no alternative order. At the most they set their sights at equipping the existing order with a new aspect that is more integrated with history, in which Islam is perceived as an aesthetic-cultural category, Ottoman-Turkish traditions and practices are emphasized, and is more in touch with the local values and norms of Turkish society.

The idea that Conservatism is an attitude also provides hints regarding the political dimension of the issue. The politics of the Conservative identity is not a doctrine with clearly defined principles. Since it is an attitude, it is composed of the expression of certain demands within the framework of procedures, going as far as pragmatism at times. When it comes to foreign policy, it is possible to arrive at similar observations on the Conservative identity. Comparing Conservative identity to the above-stated ones might cast further light over the issue. The Islamist identity, in its references to foreign policy, accentuates the Islamic world, or 'ummah', and a sort of international Islamic unity, and welcomes these as its principles with regard to foreign policy discourse and implementations. The Nationalist-Idealist identity makes references to the Turkish world, and raises the 'Turan' ideal. Each of these two movements applies a selective approach to the lands that are remnants of the Ottoman realm, whi le focusing on the areas that identify with their respective doctrines.

Kemalist identity has always maintained a foreign policy vision that takes the geographical location where the new regime was set up, namely the National Pact (Misak-i Milli), as its reference. Conservatism, however, neither leans towards a specific geography, as is the case in other movements, nor does it have a political discourse constructed as a set of specific principles. The Islamist identity can be referred to in connection with the Islamic world, the Nationalist identity with the Turkish world and the Kemalist identity with Anatolia and the National Pact. When it comes to Conservatism, however, there is no such geo-cultural point of reference. At most, Conservatism can be distinguished as an attitude displayed especially with regard to the context of foreign policy issues. The audacious policies expressed by Ozal in regards to the Turkish world and the status of Northern Iraq (Mosul) mark the kind of attitude mentioned here. Conduct by Conservative politicians and intellectuals relating to the Balkan s and the ethnic Turks living there and their approaches to the EU, which follow the idea that integration with Europe is fine so long as Turks maintain their local and genuine identity and protect their culture. These policies, however, differ in terms of time and persons involved, can be referred to in this context.

The New Domestic Context of Turkish Foreign Policy

In sum, to treat as inferior or deny the identity demands growing stronger in 21st century Turkey, or to claim that they will fade away in time, is far from possible. Discussions on disputes over identity and the reflections thereof in Turkish political life and foreign policy have generally tended to lay out different identity demands and as a natural result of the different assumptions of attitude. Such efforts have put forth Islamist identity as opposed to the Kemalist identity and set out that the new fault zones of Turkish politics are shaped through the confrontations of these identities on opposing sides.

What is more, the Conservative identity and the people represented by it have been ignored. The 28 February process has caused inconspicuous fractures within the said identities and two main groups--globalists versus nationalists--have emerged to guide Turkish politics via intra-elite divergences.

For example, in fear of the potential damage to the principle of full independence, the bureaucrat in favor of the status quo who proceeds with caution towards the EU is considered, upon comparison, closer to a sectarian, who regards the EU as a continuation of the Crusades, than the Foreign Minister arguing that the Kurdish minority needs to speak its own language. Namely, the interests of the said bureaucrat and the sectarian are observed to overlap. By the same token, the Head of the Court of Appeals, in pursuit of greater human rights and democracy, and the conservative tradesmen of Central Anatolia, in their search for economic liberalisation in order to export more, are regarded to be on the same line. Yeni Mesaj, a marginal daily, maintains the argument that Muslims who take a favorable stance towards Christians and Europeans are either naive or ignorant, if not traitors. [11] Similarly, a retired General wrote a book that presents the attempts to join the European Union as part of a conspiracy to diss olve Turkey. [12] If one considers that the publishers of this book are known for their ultra nationalist tendencies, it becomes striking to point out that a sensationalist Maoist weekly, Aydinlik, who seeks to ally itself with the army, supports this view to the utmost extent. [13] What seems more interesting in this context is that according to a survey of 2027 people conducted in 17 cities, 68.7% of the Turkish population support joining the EU and only 9.9% oppose it. [14] One analyst argued that "most practicing Muslims advocate Turkey's accession to the European Union, once perceived to be a Christian club," [15] underlying popular globalist-democrat demands. Supporting this argument, a prominent Islamic intellectual pointed out that the Copenhagen criteria are amr bil ma'ruf (ordering the good). [16]

Although the dualities of the Democrat-Globalist and Republican-Nationalist identities have gained clarity after 28 February, the original components that lead to the emergence of democrat-globalization demands in Turkish politics are the penetration of globalization into all aspects of life; world-wide acceptance of the values and concepts of human rights, democratization, civil society and liberal market economy; albeit pointless issues within the process of integration with the European Union; setting forth demands for restructuring in economic, political, cultural and social fields; of topmost importance, the discovery of the Zeitgeist by layers of people, remained outside of the Republican venue, whose potential activism failed to do well because of the barriers set before them. During the years of Turgut Ozal from 1983 to 1993, Turkey sent early signals as to the domestic, economic and foreign policy structures that it was planning to adopt in the forthcoming years. Ozal redirected the courses of the ec onomy and politics, which led to the emergence of the "other" Turkey in these realms. This not only resulted in the co-habitation of so-called "white" and other Turks, but also transformed Turkish society in a way the ruling elite never imagined. [17] The emergence of an alternative economy, especially of Anatolian origin, and new political centers and cultural spheres in the last two decades has brought the country to an irrevocable point. The newly emerging parallel world is likely to find allies for itself within the divergences in the Kemalist establishment and force the awkward and unproductive to shrink and to integrate with the global world.

An alliance including the army, bureaucracy, nationalist parties and their direct or indirect supporters in the media is roughly appearing as a nationalist and pro-status quo bloc. The corrupt relation of media patrons with some segments of state bureaucracy has unfolded with the issue of sunken banks. One of these banks, Etibank, is owned by the giant Sabah media group and there are rumors that the government did not act against Etibank simply because several important people in the Cabinet did not want to antagonize the media group. [18] Yet, those in office in these institutions especially in the last two decades, who place importance on democratization and global integration more than former generations, are in contradiction with the attitudes present in their relevant institutions. One can come up with columnists and commentators who deviate from the dominant ideological attitude, even with regards to the media identifying itself with the establishment. The perceptions considered to be identical with th e 28 February process have made it difficult for the Conservative identity and Turkish-Islamic idealists to remain within the nationalist bloc.

In foreign policy, with respect to Ankara's role in the Middle East, it is seen as a necessary partner in region-wide security cooperation with surrounding regions, thanks to its military power; it is the second largest force in NATO and far stronger and better equipped than the majority of neighboring countries. Nevertheless, Turkey is still not included within the agenda of disputes over the security of the Middle East or the Gulf region. The reasons for Turkey's exclusion are the controversial relations between Turkey and Israel, buffeted by their mutual close ties with the U.S. as well as numerous conflicts with Greece, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Although these disputes may be understood as an extension of traditional foreign policies, the "modern pashas" of the 28th February process have sharpened Turkey's anti-Arab and anti-European as well as pro-U.S. or pro-American attitudes and images. [19] Feeling its political identity torn between ties with Europe vs. ties with the U.S., Turkey's nationalist policies present an image of the country becoming more introverted, nationalistic and rapidly arming itself as a result of security concerns. [20]

As I see it, based on the constructivist approach to identity, international relations, and foreign policy, one can make a strong case that Turkish foreign policy will gradually, yet continuously, slip out of the control of the nationalist elite, and increasingly be determined by societal demands in the years to come. In the early 21st century, the key to understanding Turkish politics is the tension between globalists and nationalists. This polarized constellation helps to account for the intra-elite divisions and coalitions among different identities that will determine the shape of Turkish politics in the future. I argue that the future of Turkish politics will be heavily dominated by globalist demands, and, subsequently, Turkish foreign policy as well.

The problem of Jerusalem that I deal with in this article has surprisingly followed a course contrary to expectations concerning traditional foreign policy, representing a clear example of a major societal contribution to foreign policy. It may also be considered an early example to the future shape of Turkish foreign policy. Despite increasingly strong relations with Israel, the international administration of Jerusalem, a formula rejected by the Tel Aviv government, has been suggested and endorsed by Turkish foreign policy makers. Turkish foreign policy makers emphasize the fact that the city was under Ottoman rule for a long time, even suggesting that the administration of the city should follow certain aspects of the Ottoman style of government. The problem of Jerusalem in Turkish foreign policy, from this perspective, is especially deserving of inquiry because of the way in which it helps to shed light on intra-elite deviations within the Nationalist-Kemalist identities, as well as perspectives concernin g the "other" Turkey. The Jerusalem question presents us with some unusual deviations from traditional bureaucratic-authoritarian foreign policy stances.


Jerusalem is especially important to Muslims as a result of the nocturnal journey of the Prophet Mohammed, the place where he rose to the Gate between this world and the hereafter, as is recorded in the Quran. Thereafter, Jerusalem became the Muslims' kiblah and Islam declared itself to be the legitimate heir of the other monotheist religious traditions of the West, Judaism and Christianity. The large rock from which Mohammed rose to heaven is believed by Muslims to have been the site where Abraham offered up his son Ishmael [21] to God as a sacrifice. Abraham is of special importance because he is the historical foundation upon which all three monotheistic religions are based.

Jerusalem became Ottoman territory after Selim I conquered Syria, Palestine, and surrounding vicinities in 1517. The Ottoman Empire grasped the importance of the city from the beginning and tried to maintain and honor sacred places, governing the residents through a pluralist, free and just administration. They even set up religious endowments to meet the needs of the residents of Jerusalem, in the same way that had been done by the Islamic societies that had preceded them. The richest of such foundations was the Haseki Foundation, set up by Suleyman the Magnificent on behalf of his wife Roxelena, who had converted to Islam. Suleyman also restored damaged city walls. Following the death of Roxelena, the Foundation was expanded to perform extensive services throughout the region.

A strong tradition of tolerance emerged under Ottoman rule in Jerusalem. The Ottoman legal system provided both Christians and Jews with the status of dhimmi, and de facto recognition of citizenship that helped establish and maintain a just and pluralist order. Jews and Christians could sell and buy property in the Muslim region of Jerusalem and were granted equal status with Muslims in the city's trade guilds. Ottoman rulers provided a safe haven in Jerusalem, especially for Jews, who often preferred to settle their disputes in Ottoman courts and submitted to the verdicts awarded by Ottoman kadis (jurists). [22] Jewish and Muslim religious leaders worked in harmony, neither trying to impinge on the authority of the other. As one historian has elaborated on this unique atmosphere of religious tolerance:

Jews had found refuge in the Ottoman dominions for many decades before the expulsion from Spain. During the fifteenth-century persecutions in Germany, thousands had fled eastward and had been well received in the Turkish provinces. Life was secure and the morrow could be greeted without terror. There were no degrading badges and no oppressive residential or trade restrictions. The Jews were liable only to a negligible poll-tax, which all non-Moslems paid. The hospitality of the Turkish rulers was a godsend to the victims of Spanish and Portuguese bigotry. [23]

After the Ottomans declined in power and European consuls gained influence over Jerusalem, the unprecedented climate of tolerance and pluralism gave way to gradually escalating tensions. Capitulations in 1673 and 1740 increasingly granted the French privileged status and rights in Jerusalem. The French began acting on behalf of Catholics, provoking the Russians and causing tension between the Greek-Slavic and Latin peoples. The Russians, by the same token, were also actively engaged in the region's politics, even confiscating land at times. A letter sent by the Russian Foreign Minister to the British Ambassador to Russia on 29 June 1853, asking for the protection of Orthodox rights, in a way heralded the Crimean War. Despite an agreement intended to resolve conflicts over sacred places in Jerusalem, signed in Istanbul by Russian and French representatives, war continued to break out.

The current administration of Jerusalem bears traces of its Ottoman heritage in terms of international law and the de facto government. An imperial edict of Sultan Abdulmecid in 1852 still serves as a reference regarding the administration of people belonging to different religions. In many important ways, the decline of the Ottoman Empire represented the beginning of chaos in the region, where the pax-Ottomana lingered on in the memories of people as representing a period of peace and stability, or a "twilight zone", to use Hobbesbawm's term. [24] Though one is rightfully skeptical about the glorification and presentation of the Ottoman era as a period free of major problems, it is noteworthy to remember that there is almost no negative reference to the Ottoman administration of Jerusalem, even in studies that have sought to detach the holy city from its Islamic past.

Forgetting the Ottoman past has never been an issue outside Turkey, and issues such as the Armenian genocide have created acute problems for Turkish foreign policy makers throughout the Republic's history. Since the end of the Cold War a number of crises have emerged in former Ottoman territories, and, due to the intensity of these conflicts, a romantic yearning for the security of the past in the form of the Ottoman government, with a particular reference to its multi-ethnic and diverse religious nature, has surfaced in former Ottoman territories. For example, political leader of Palestinian HAMAS, Halil Mes'ad argued that: "We expect much from Turkey with its political and military leverage and Islamic potential. Turkey and Turks have an historical responsibility for region and us. No Palestinian and Muslim can forget Sultan Abdulhamit's resistance to the Zionists." [25]

The process of remembering the Ottoman past in Turkey adds salt to injury and deals a harmful blow to the paradigmatic basis of Kemalist identity which has long determined the guiding principles of domestic and foreign policies. The reassessment of the Ottoman past within the domestic arena has not been restricted to Islamist or nationalist segments of society, however, but has also found ground, though limited, within official Turkey--especially evident with the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the founding of the Ottoman Empire. Jerusalem occupies a special place in the process of remembering the Ottoman past and its symbolic importance is widely shared within Turkish society.

It would not be an exaggeration to argue that the Palestinian question, most specifically the status of Jerusalem, is the number one problem in the Middle East in terms of Turkish public opinion. In a recent poll, 63% of 1573 people in seven big cities of Turkey have expressed that they regard Jerusalem and A1-Aqsa mosque important for themselves. [26] The Ottoman history of governing the holy city in peace, in a tolerant atmosphere, and for more than four hundred years, has become a source of national dignity and a sense of pride for the Islamic world. Turkish public opinion has manifested a self-centered pragmatism that has helped to motivate foreign policy makers to offer alternative formulas for solving the problem of the future of Jerusalem--based on the Ottoman experience. Ankara has even been continuously reminded by other nations who are players in the region that Turks were once in charge of governing these areas and should not keep themselves isolated from the events related to the Palestinians and Jerusalem.


The problem of Jerusalem has occupied a privileged position within traditional Turkish foreign policy. In a sense, it has remained a point of reference with regard to Turkey's policies towards Israel and the Arabs, and later towards the Palestinians. The expansionist and irredentist policies of Israel and the illegal faits accomplis violating international law regarding Jerusalem have impeded the progress of Turkish-Israeli relations even in times when they were on a progressive course, while moving relations closer between Turkey and Palestinian Arabs.

Generally ignoring the Ottoman past, however, the conductors of Turkish foreign policy have been anxious to separate Middle Eastern geography from its historical roots and geographical context, as if suffering from a shift of consciousness or amnesia. Numerous international developments, especially the previous Soviet threat towards Turkey and efforts to gain a place within the Western bloc have helped foreign policy makers adopt new understandings that serve to compensate for Turkey's post-imperial loneliness or marginalization; having disdained its imperial heritage Turkey has tried to refresh its memory. The Middle East was among the first and most important areas to put Turkey's post-Cold-War identity and mission to the test.

In order to adequately demonstrate the way in which Jerusalem has long occupied a special status in Turkish foreign policy, however, a comprehensive analysis is needed along historical dimensions. Only in this way can the relationship between traditional foreign policy directions and the more recent societal construction of Turkey's foreign policy towards Jerusalem be assessed. in what follows, I examine Turkish foreign policy towards Arabs in general, with particular regard to the Palestinians and Jerusalem from the 1940s to the 1990s. Next, I discuss the current situation and Turkey's policies towards Jerusalem.

Between Sentiment and Reality: the 1940s through the 1980s

The approach of Turkish foreign policy makers towards the problem of Palestine-until the official functioning of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its initiation of organizational efforts--were determined within the framework of general policies towards the Arabs. Retrospectively, responsibility for the Palestinian question was passed to the United Nations after the end of the British mandate in Palestine and World War II, and was an issue that Ankara generally sought to bypass. Although Turkey opposed the partition of Palestine and voted against the UN General Assembly resolution on the partition on 29 November 1947, it voted along with the West for the establishment of a reconciliation commission on Palestine in December 1948. [27] Turkey recognized Israel as an independent nation on 28 March 1949. While it was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel officially, it was one of the last countries in Europe to do so. As a result of Turkey's official recognition of Israel, Turkish-Arab relations s ubsequently deteriorated. The Muslim Brotherhood newspaper AI-dawa labeled Turkey a second Israel, for example, and called for its destruction. [28]

Certain sources of tension in Turkish-Western relations in the 1960 and 1970s, especially the Cuban missile crisis and Cyprus question, paved the way for an effort to generate a rapprochement of relations with Arab nations, but not at the expense of rupturing relations with Israel. Turkish foreign policy makers took a balanced approach towards the Arab-Israeli conflict and aimed to adopt an independent, flexible, and diversified approach to the conflict. Given our focus on Turkish foreign policy toward the Palestinians, it is important to analyze Turkish policy behavior to Jerusalem in the wider context of Turkish foreign policy throughout the cold war period, which followed a dual track policy, switching back and forth between realpolitik and political sentimentality.

The first track of Turkish foreign policy has been conducted in conformity with the realpolitik of cold war balances. The official policy line never deviated from its consideration of Turkey to be a full-fledged member of Western institutions, especially NATO, as a necessity for the long march towards the West and Western identity towards which Turkey has long been irrevocably headed. This stance led to the misperception, however, that remaining within the boundaries of support for Western policies towards the Middle East would help Turkey to consolidate its Western image. The bureaucratic-authoritarian Turkish foreign policy tradition internalized Cold-War policy modes and Turkish foreign policy makers paid the utmost attention not to contradict the dictates of the Western world as it sought to retain its role in and allegiance to the rising constellation in Cold war politics.

A clear example of Turkey's attempt to straddle the political fence was when it sided with Arab states in the adoption of Resolution 242, which called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from occupied lands during the war. However, Turkey, so as not to injure its relations with Israel, stressed its respect of the right of all regional states to live within secure boundaries and abstained from voting on the first paragraph of the resolution, which called Israel an aggressor state. [29] Ankara found only limited room to maneuver between perceived interests and Western attitudes concerning the Palestinian question; its position followed the European line with little deviation from the U.S. policy.

Turkish foreign policy behavior in this period followed an independent stance towards the Palestinian question. The mid-1970s witnessed important events related to the Palestinian question, such as international recognition of the PLO and Yaser Arafat, and PLO's gaining observer status in the UN, and the Arab Summit's declaration of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Ankara used its limited maneuvering capability and adopted a pro-Palestinian attitude in the UN [30] The 'independent' Turkish position, namely that of support, was first expressed in 1975. Although Turkey had expressed reservations about the PLO during its early days, it established contact with the PLO, as a result of the positive impact of the 1974 Arab Summit, through the Turkish embassy in Cairo in January l975. [31] Following this informal recognition, two important figures from the Political Bureau of the PLO arrived in Turkey, respectively, in 1975 and in 1976 to discuss developing relations and set up a PLO office in Ankara. [32] It was left to the leftist Bulent Ecevit government to finally grant the PLO full diplomatic status. Arafat came to Turkey to open the office in Ankara in October 1979. [33] The reasons for both the delay and the final recognition of the Palestinians reflect the rules of realpolitik and the developments with respect to the Cold-War polarizations.

According to a noted expert in Turkish foreign policy, there were six reasons for the delay in recognition of the PLO, closely related to the discussion above.

The first was that the government was displeased to learn that Turkish militants were receiving armed training in PLO camps in the Middle East. Secondly, they believed that the PLO supported terrorism and separatist groups, in other words, the Kurds. A third reason was that some PLO officials had offended and alienated the Turks. A fourth was that the involvement of the PLO in various acts of international terrorism made the Turks cautious. A fifth reason was that it was not in Turkey's interest to alienate the West, thus foreclosing its chances of receiving economic help. Finally, the PLO had always supported the Greek Cypriot position that Turkish troops had no right to be in Cyprus and should be withdrawn at once, and it did not endorse the resolutions of the Seventh Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Istanbul in May 1976, supporting the Turkish side. [34]

Then, one may reasonably ask why the Turkish government allowed a PLO office to be set up in Ankara at all. The first reason was the gratefulness to the PLO for helping with the rescue operation of the Egyptian ambassador from the hands of militants in July 1979. [35] The second was the moral necessity that emerged with the failure of US-Egyptian peace attempts. Third, the Palestinian Question was an important tool for the mobilization of support from other Arab nations; thus, Turkey was officially able to demonstrate its neutrality to the Arabs by permitting the PLO to open an office in Ankara. Finally, the emerging "New Security Concept" of Prime Minister Ecevit aimed at strengthening relations with all of the countries in the region. [36] While these factors did not bring an end to the traditional Turkish mistrust of the PLO, Turkey recognized the head of the PLO office with the rank of charge d'affaires just as was the case with the Israeli representative in Ankara in 1979. [37] Ankara's dual policy line sought to pursue its own national interests in its relations with Israel at the same time that it developed a number of initiatives designed to maintain amicable ties with the Arab world.

The opening of the PLO office in Ankara did not, however, initiate a trouble-free period in relations between Turkey and the PLO. Turkey continued to allege that Armenian, Kurdish, and other left-wing terrorists were receiving training in PLO camps. Israel provided Turkey with information on the activities of these groups and destroyed the training center of the Armenian terrorist organization, ASALA, killing its leader at the same time. [38] The PLO link with terrorist organizations was the main reason for Turkey's abstention from a UN resolution accusing the Israelis of an attempt to commit genocide in 1982, unmasking a strong tendency to remain solidly in the U.S. camp with respect to Cold War balances. [39] The newly elected nationalist-conservative Ozal government did not instigate a drastic change in policy formulation towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Arafat, however, quickly began trying to shift the Palestinian struggle to the diplomatic arena. On his second visit to Turkey, he was welcomed with deep sympathy, both at government and public levels. Ankara's policy was to work to steer the PLO into the moderate camp. Turkey, not surprisingly, recognized Palestine as an independent state after its declaration of independence in Algiers on 14 November 1988. [40] Turkey became the eleventh state to recognize Palestinian statehood, and was the first from the West to do so.

Increasingly favorable circumstances emerged as a result of the peace process in 1989. First, a proposal was put forward by Israel, known as the Shamir Plan, welcomed by Turkish foreign policy makers since it favored elections in the occupied territories. Additionally, the foreign policy elite sought to repair relations with Israel, which had been injured by Turkey's recognition of Palestinian statehood. Turkey also warmly welcomed the peace attempt made by the Egyptian leader Husni Mubarak in autumn 1989. [41] Although these attempts ended inconclusively, Turkey's perception of peace was positive and it was interested in maintaining the momentum of the peace process. The following developments in bilateral and regional contexts put an end to positive expectations, however, at least for the next two years. Relations came to a critical point after Arafat's recall of the PLO representative from Ankara. Arafat's purpose was to protest Turkey's delay in upgrading relations with the PLO to the ambassadorial level . [42] The Gulf crisis added to the further destabilization of relations. PLO backing of Iraq lowered the credibility of that organization in the eyes of Western and pro-Western Arab states since the Iraqi invasion was regarded as a threat to international stability and order. Second, and most importantly, "the statements made by Arafat drawing parallels between the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the 1974 Turkish military operation in Cyprus" [43] contributed to a worsening atmosphere of distrust if not hostility between the two sides. Turkish foreign policy was dominated at that time by President Ozal who, first and foremost, sought to safeguard close cooperation with the US, in order to achieve an effective role for Turkey in maintaining the peace and stability of the region. Ozal was even in favor of taking risks to ensure this if necessary. [44] This negative atmosphere gave way to hope, however, with the 1991 Madrid framework for peace in the Middle East. Subsequently, Ankara upgraded its relations with both the Palestinians and Israel to the ambassadorial level.

The second track of Turkish foreign policy development has been dominated by societal demands and sentiments, which tend to lead to pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian attitudes and ideological positions, although in a limited manner; this has had an impact on the course of traditional foreign policy lines. This level of political sentiment became graphically clear, for example, with the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967. Turkey did not allow the U.S. to use its Adana military base in support of Israel in 1967. [45] Turkish foreign minister Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil made the following statement in order to reassure Arab states: "The military bases in Turkey were not going to be used against the Arabs by way of a fait accompli." Later, when the Israeli occupation of large areas of Arab lands became clear, he announced categorically that: "Turkey is against territorial gains made by the use of force." [46] Additionally, Turkey also became actively involved in humanitarian aid projects to Arab countries. Turkey's attempts w ere welcomed by the Arab states and it was exempted from the brief oil embargo following the 1967 War. Turkish foreign policy makers pursued similar policies during the war of 1973. The spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated, "Turkey does not approve of Arab lands being forcefully occupied by the Israelis and it feels a lasting peace settlement is contingent upon the satisfaction of the legitimate demands of the Arab nations on this matter." [47] Later, Turkey also officially informed the U.S. government that, "military bases in Turkey may not be used to aid Israel during the current war in the Middle East." [48] At that time, the U.S. delegation to NATO had accused Turkey of facilitating arms transfers from the Soviet Union to Arab states. [49]

It is important to note how that the second track of policy behavior has mainly been focused on matters related to Jerusalem. In 1969, Turkey joined the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) as an observer, with the hope of mobilizing support for the Cypriot Turks. The Demirel government regarded the conference as a political, not a religious, meeting and was primarily concerned with the fire at the Aqsa Mosque and the status of Jerusalem. [50] Officially, Turkey remained neutral and so was able to act as a balance between opposing camps. It opposed, for example, a resolution that called for all of the participants to break diplomatic relations with Israel. [51] However, it should be added that, although Turkey attempted to officially respond to the fire at the AlAqsa Mosque in a balanced manner, it was highly conscious of the fact that the first attempt to form an institution that included all Muslim countries was a direct response to this attack on one of the sacred places of Jerusalem. [52]

Another important development of this era came on 29 July 1980 when Israel's Knesset enacted a law declaring the annexation of Jerusalem as the immutable capital of the state of Israel. [53] Turkey protested this Israeli law declaring that it would not accept this fait accompli. Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel clearly sided with Muslim nations and even lowered Turkey's level of representation in Israel to second secretary, closing down its embassy in Jerusalem and relocating it to Tel Aviv. This issue created great friction within Turkey. The left-wing Republican Party and the NSP were able to Oust Foreign Minister Erkmen from office as a result of his reluctance to sever relations with Israel. [54] This development was also strongly criticized and protested in the domestic arena and numerous riots were organized to demonstrate strong objections on the part of the Turkish people; this resistance came primarily from leftist and Islamic segments of society.

The emergence of the Intifada brought a new face to bilateral relations between Turkey and the Palestinians. The uprising succeeded in enlisting the sympathies of the Turkish people. The struggle between heavily armed troops and unarmed civilians, as witnessed in the media, increased support for Palestinians in Turkey. The Intifada also resulted in an interruption of improvements in Turkey's relations with Israel in the late-1980s. Although it may seem contradictory at first glance, Turkish foreign policy makers followed a dual track policy motivated by political and cultural sentiment, on the one hand, and pragmatism on the other. Nevertheless, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the Intifada changed the course of traditional Turkish foreign policy, at least with respect to minor deviations. Jerusalem proved to be the most sensitive issue for foreign policy makers, resulting in some surprising signals that were not typical of trends in Turkish foreign policy.

Toward a Societal Construction of Foreign Policy: 1990-2000

Turkey did not play a central role in the peace process of the 1990s; it was more influenced by rather than influential in these processes. The Oslo Peace Agreement concluded between the Israelis and the Palestinians in 1993 followed the course set out at the 1991 Madrid peace process, resulting in a peace agreement signed in 1994 between Israel and Jordan, widely seen as a development that was beneficial for Ankara. As a result of this process, relations with Palestinians and Israelis were raised to an ambassadorial level, and comprehensive co-operation agreements were entered into with Israel in a considerably short time. However, Turkish foreign policy makers cannot be said to have properly made use of the opportunities that surfaced within the positive atmosphere emerging soon after commencement of the peace process. Their focus was too myopically centered on a chance for the further development of relations with Israel in the era dominated by the idea of a "New Middle East" with peace and stability; Tur kish foreign policy makers jumped at the chance to establish a USA-Turkey-Israel axis while overlooking the Arab Middle East. This situation brought Turkey nothing more than the similar Baghdad Pact project of the 1950s, suggesting that Turkish foreign policy makers were unsuccessful in ridding themselves of their Cold War mentalities, continuing to adhere to mathematical power balance approaches to international relations. Ankara's policies toward the region that have been based upon the peace process have failed to produce favorable results as a result of the severe problems faced by the process itself and the fact that it bore little promise for the future.

Turkish foreign policy makers' cooperation with Israel served to maintain an image of "political correctness" and "cultural correctness"--in Western terms--during and after the Cold War era. In a sense, improving relations with Israel has been a holdover from the radically pro-American attitudes of the Cold War era and of the deepening identity crisis thereafter; these relations have served, in the eyes of official Turkey, as reinforcements for Turkey's modern Western identity. Regressions in or negative responses to relations with Israel have generally been defined, therefore, as reactionary movements, since they tend to deviate from the quest for a Western identity and Westernization. Official Turkish attitudes towards the Middle East are increasingly becoming important factors in the development of domestic politics. The 1997 crisis involving a former Iranian ambassador constitutes a landmark example. The Iranian ambassador to Turkey, Mohammad-Reza Baqeri, addressed a group of people in a district of Anka ra in February 1997, including a mayor and local politicians from the Turkish Welfare party, amidst chants of God is Great (Allah Akbar), marking the anniversary of Jerusalem Day. Speaking under posters of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah leaders, Baqeri conveyed the message that those who sign agreements with the United States and Israel will, sooner or later, be penalized. This resulted in a crisis involving the Iranian ambassador that was seen as centrally important in the eyes of the ruling secular elite, and it was a key factor in the military's decision to bring down the government led by the Islamic Welfare party. Even the leader of the Democratic Left Party, Bulent Ecevit strongly criticized anti-Israeli attitudes due to his perception of Israel as belonging to the Western and secular world. It is interesting enough to note that while Turkish foreign policy makers do not consider the Jerusalem issue to represent an obstacle to or limitation of its relations with Israel, the unique character of the problems surrounding the issue of Jerusalem remain critical factors of key importance that often serve as sources of conflict and disappointment for policy makers on both sides.

This project has been especially concerned with the period from the 1940s through the 1990s, and, with respect to the current situation, helps to highlight certain critical developments that have caused fractures in Turkey's policies towards Arabs, Israelis, and in particular Palestinians, as part of the historical process surrounding the issue of Jerusalem. The rise of the Jerusalem problem caused Turkey to draw closer to the Islamic world in general and Palestinian Arabs in particular; in other words, it helped Turkey better understand the limits of distancing itself from its historical and geographical realities. Turkish foreign policy attitudes towards Jerusalem have been remindful of an amnesiac who recovers to consciousness from time to time, and foreign policy makers have even sometimes acted as if they were "Ottomans". The commencement of the Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem in 1967, the 1969 fire in the AI-Aqsa Mosque and the declaration of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel under the Basic Law of 1980 have all received harsh responses from Turkish foreign policy makers; bilateral relations with Israel were nearly severed on various occasions.


Jerusalem, according to current principles of international law, must be given back to the Palestinians along with the rest of their occupied lands. The essence of the Middle East problem is the problem of Palestine, with the status of Jerusalem and the ownership of sacred places at its core. [55] The narrow and activist ideological demands of the Turkish elite, represented most clearly by the generals who supported the 28 February process, face special difficulties when it comes to the problem of Jerusalem; they are forced to take into account the demands of different identities that diverge from traditional policy lines. The attitude assumed by the army during the AI-Aqsa Intifada of October 2000 that caused the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians (mainly children) was clearly in favor of the Palestinians.

The problem of Jerusalem may serve to constitute a milestone in terms of the development of Turkish foreign policy. Assuming an effective role as mediator in the region, Ankara might be able to adopt a position where it could exert a highly positive influence over the future of the region for a long time to come. The problem of Jerusalem lies at the heart of contemporary Arabic political consciousness and Arab statesmen, experiencing crises of legitimacy in terms of state-society relations, are not in a position to take one step back on the issue of Jerusalem. As a result of its military co-operation agreements with Israel, however, Turkey has lost touch with the psychological mode of the Arabic world, and has declined to an unfavorable position within the OIC. The easiest way to develop relations with the OIC in the early 21st century is to create sensible policies regarding the problem of Jerusalem. Moreover, any active policies created by Turkey need to make clear that the problem is not one relating sole ly to Arabic countries, but to the whole Islamic world.

The Islamic World was deeply upset by the violent deeds against our Palestinian bro thers after Friday's Prayer on October the 28th in Jerusalem, which Islam deems to be among the most sacred lands, following certain irresponsible provocations. Resorting to violence no matter for what purpose, and using weapons in sacred lands is totally unacceptable. Clashes scattered rapidly after the upsetting event, and very unfortunately, use of weapons by Israeli soldiers caused several deaths. I do sympathize with those who lost their lives after these terrible occurrences. It is our common wish that a fair agreement be arrived at as soon as possible so that such occurrences are never repeated and common sense preside in the region, our Palestinian brothers enjoy rights--as accepted by the international community--including the establishment of their own state. [59]

After clashes grew violent in Palestinian territory in September 2000, Nebil Osman, advisor to the Egyptian Presidency speaking at the summit of the Arab League that convened thereafter, stated that: "The Palestinian and Jerusalem causes belong not only to Arabs but to all Islamic countries and especially to the Turks," pointing to Turkey's potential role and the expectations of Arabs. [56] A poll conducted in October 2000 showed that 71% of Turkish society has an interest in Palestinian affairs and 60% demand a more active Turkish role in behalf of the Palestinian people. [57] Another one conducted in November 2000 showed that 41% are in favor of delivering Jerusalem to Palestinian rule, 29% proposed autonomous administration, and only 2% favors Israeli rule over the city. [58] The recent comments of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer that follow clearly represent a response to the concern of Turkish society on this issue:

Certain coalitions could be set up by the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Europe, where historical consciousness and sympathy for the Palestinians run very high as compared to the U.S., to help settle the dispute over Jerusalem in a way that is compliant with international laws and norms acceptable to all relevant parties. Christians from all lands, including America, also see Jerusalem as their heritage, and they do not wish it to be destroyed. The powerful Asian states could also be mobilized to make a contribution to the peace process in Jerusalem. Ankara could make use of its positive dialogue with the Israeli government to convince them to create policies in line with international laws and norms. Not only will unilateral Israeli irredentism concerning Jerusalem do harm to its already questionable legitimacy, but it will also have a severe negative impact on its ability to enter into successful dialogue with its neighbors. A domination of the Sharon spirit over Israeli policies toward Jerusalem will serve o nly to push Israel farther and farther away from a recognition of historical reality, and Turkey, by failing to review its relations with this country, will be pushed to the margins of the Islamic world for the foreseeable future.

Societal constructivist theory suggests that foreign policy behavior is based upon the norms existing within society. These values arise out of common historical experiences and become widespread over time, coming to be seen as what is natural, making them most difficult to transform. These valuesnorms can have significant impacts on the creation of a nation's foreign policy. When the values accepted by society conflict with the views of expert foreign policy-makers, social values-norms tend to outweigh expert opinion on foreign policies. Turkish foreign policy-makers have for a long time adopted a bureaucratic-authoritarian tradition of foreign policy making, hampering the way in which social values must be taken into consideration in the development of foreign policy.

The future of Turkish politics shall be determined by the tension grounded on the duality of democracy-globalism, on the one hand, and republican-nationalism, on the other, with respect to culture, domestic politics, and the economy. An overwhelming majority of Turkish society is expressing its support for globalist-democratic demands and asks foreign policy-makers to guide the development of foreign policy according to the values of the people. This demand is supported by the way in which the international political system as a whole is increasingly coming to be dominated by democratic norms, values and principles. In Turkey, societal demands are in conformity with international norms. In the case of the Jerusalem issue, the demands of Turkish society are in line with the Zeitgeist that surrounds the issue, in accordance with principles of international justice. It is to be expected, therefore, that Turkish foreign policy will continue to he influenced in constructive ways, especially with respect to the Je rusalem question, in accordance with the developments of Turkish societal constructions over the decades to come.

Bulent Aras is an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at Fatih University, Istanbul. He is author of The Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process and Turkey (Nova: 1998) and co-editor of Oil and Geopolitics in the Caspian Sea Region (Praeger: 1999).


(1.) Among the reasons for such a lack is that area studies are not essentially concerned with making theoretical contributions, and Turkish foreign policy experts -- academicians, policy makers and specialists -- have not made significant theoretical contributions to the discipline of international relations. International Relations training in Turkey is relatively new and has not become fully situated at the time being. Following the bureaucracy oriented education of Ankara University's Faculty of Political Sciences, universities like Bogazici,

Middle East Technical University and Bilkent have developed to become better than Turkey's average educational institutions. Recently, in addition to these, a number of new universities were established by foundations, including smaller ones in Anatolia.

The said "developed" universities offer training by means of lecturers/researchers with PhDs obtained in the U.S. or GB, and are in a leading position in terms of international publications in this field. Low wages, limited research funds, insufficiencies in the libraries, intense coursework, antidemocratic conduct by the Board of Higher Education, lack of a liberal and democratic culture throughout the country (a significant number of people prosecuted because of their writings), and other problems alike have had their negative effects on academicians. Already lacking theoretical content, the discipline turns out to grow in an official/nationalist way, and the reflections of such growth on training cause a vicious circle. The extramural spheres have been filled by think tanks, retired bureaucrats, and journalists. Similar problems also occur in this sphere. The number of think tanks not following the official line is low in Turkey, and among them almost none is engaged with foreign policies. The Strategic R esearch Center, one of the three leading institutions, is directly in contact with the Foreign Ministry; the Foreign Policy Institute and the Eurasia Strategic Research Center have the state, although less evident than in the former, as their customer. However, the problem of the latter two institutions is the state's reluctance to assign them a position in the foreign policy making process. Journalists and bureaucrats express their views through the articles and analyses in their newspaper columns. The organic and mechanical links between the media and the state set obstacles before the existence of an independent analytical field.

Experts working abroad are placed in think-tanks and universities. Recently in Washington D.C, there is an increasing influence of think-tanks. Some experts in this group do not speak Turkish and have to conduct their studies making use of secondary resources. Another major group of experts work at centers with specific aims, therefore they cannot carry out independent and theoretically deep or comprehensive studies. The few number of experts studying in this field results in a low level of competition and production of superficial studies.

(2.) Malik Mufti, "Daring and Caution in Turkish Foreign Policy", Middle East Journal, vol 52, no.1 (1988); Alan Makovsky, "The New activism in Turkish foreign policy," SAIS Review, no.19 (1999).

(3.) Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy Is What States Make of It: the Social Construction of Power Politics," International Organization, v. 46, no. 2 (Spring 1992), p.391.

(4.) Peter J. Katzenstein, "Introduction: Alternative Perspectives on National Security," in Peter J. Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security (Columbia University Press: 1996), pp.2-6.

(5.) R. Jepperson & A. Wendt & P. Katzenstein, "Norms, Identity and Culture in National Security," in Peter J. Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security, p.5 9.

(6.) Christian Reus-Smit, The Moral Purpose of The State (New Jersey, NY: Princeton University Press, 1999), p.6.

(7.) For example see, Graham E. Fuller and Ian O.Lesser, Turkey's New Geopolitics. From the Balkans to Western China, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993); Gareth Winrow, "Turkey and Former Soviet Central Asia: National and Ethnic Identity," Central Asia Survey, vol 11 no.3, (1992); Dietrich Jung and Wolfgang Piccoli, "The Turkish-Israeli Alignment: Paranoia or Pragmatism," Security Dialogue, vol 3, no.1, (2000).

(8.) Wendy Kristianasen, "New Faces of Islam," Le Monde Diplomatique (English edition), July 1997.

(9.) Personal Correspondence, 26 October 2000.

(10.) Interview with a group of journalists working for the nationalist newspaper, Kurultay, which is known as the voice of the Nationalist Action Party.

(11.) See,

(12.) Suat Ilhan, Avrupa Birligi'ne Neden Hayir? (Istanbul: Otuken, 2000).

(13.) See,

(14.) Sukru Elekdag, "Aklimiz Avrupa'da," Milliyet, 21 September 2000; For a recent analysis of Turkish-European Relations, see Gokhan Bacik, "Turkiye ye Avrupa: Yeni Donem, Yeni Model," Avrasya Dosyasi, vol.5, no.4 (Winter 1999).

(15.) Ihsan Yilmaz, "Changing Turkish-Muslim Discourses on Modernity, West and Dialogue," Unpublished Report.

(16.) Ali Bulac, Zaman, 4 June 2000.

(17.) For more information, see Berdal Aral, "Dispensing with Tradition: Turkish and International Society During the Ozal Decade (1983-1993)," Middle Eastern Studies, forthcoming; Henri J. Barkey, "The Struggles of a Strong State," Journal of International Affairs, vol.54, no.1 (Fall 2000).

(18.) Turkish Daily News, 30 October 2000.

(19.) As quoted from the summary of a briefing at JINSA by then deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Cevik Bir during which the 28 February decisions were taken: "Bir was outspoken in the Turkish military's commitment to its blossoming relationship with Israel and expressed hope that delays in receiving excess American military equipment pledged to Turkey by the Clinton Administration would be resolved." He said Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. lsmael Karadayi's visit to Israel would surely pave the way for greater cooperation between the two democracies, something for which he hopes the United States would show support. "Pro-American Turkish Leaders Work for Closer Ties with Washington," JINSA Briefings, (February-March 1997), at

(20.) However, a decline in relations with Israel, the sudden Turkish-Greek friendship that emerged after the Marmara earthquake in 1999, and relations that have grown softer with Syria, Iran and Iraq have helped to show that nationalist foreign policies are not long-term, often fail to interpret regional and global developments and additionally overlook the country's potential role in the region.

(21.) Isaac in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

(22.) For two path-breaking articles on this issue, see K. I. Asali, "Jerusalem in History: Notes on the Origins of the City and Its Tradition of Tolerance," Arab Studies Quarterly, vol.16, no.4 (Fall 1994) and Ghada Hashem Talhami, "The Modern History of Islamic Jerusalem," Middle East Policy, vol.7, no.2 (February 2000).

(23.) A. L. Sachar, History of the Jews (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967), p. 221.

(24.) This conceptualization belongs to Selim Deringil. He interprets the twilight zone as "the intellectual territory where memory and history meet, where the memory of our grandparents overlaps with the history textbooks." See his article, "The Ottoman Twilight Zone of the Middle East," in Reluctant Neighbor: Turkey's Role in the Middle East, ed., Henri J. Barkey (Washington, DC: USIP, 1996), p.13; Also see, Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Empire (London, 1987)

(25.) Yeni Safak, 28 November 2000.

(26.) Ankara Sosyal Arastirmalar Merkezi, Kasim-2000 Turkiye Gundemi Arastirmasi, 2 December 2000.

(27.) Omer Kurkcuoglu, "Development of Turkish-Arab Relations: A Historical Apprisal," in Middle East, Turkey and the Atlantic Alliance, eds. Ali L. Karaosmanoglu and Seyfi Tashan (Ankara: Foreign Policy Institute, 1987), p. 13-14.

(28.) Kemal Karpat, "Turkish and Arab-Israeli Relations," in Turkey's Foreign Policy in Transition: 1950-1974, ed. Kemal Karpat (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975), p.116.

(29.) Ihsan Gurkan, "Tukish - Israeli Relations and the Middle East Peace Process," Turkish Review of Middle East Studies, no.7 (1993): p.102.

(30.) Mahmut Bali Aykan, "The Palestinian Question in Turkish Foreign Policy from the 1950s to the 1990s," International Journal of Middle East Studies, no.25 (1993), p. 97.

(31.) Ismail Soysal, "70 Years of Turkish-Arab Relations and an Analysis on Turkish-Iraqi Relations," Studies on Turkish-Arab Relations, no.6 (1991), p. 63.

(32.) Soysal, p. 63.

(33.) Bulent Aras, "The Impact of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process in Turkish Foreign Policy," Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, vol.20, no.2 (Winter 1997), p. 58.

(34.) Aykan, p. 98.

(35.) Cumhuriyet, 21 July 1979.

(36.) Ramazan Gozen, "Patterns in Turkish Foreign Policy Behaviour Towards the Middle East," Foreign Policy (Ankara) 19, no. 1-2 (1995), p. 79.

(37.) Aykan, p. 100.

(38.) For more information see Nezih Tavlas, "Turk - Israil Guvenlik ye Istihbarat Iliskileri," Avrasya Dosyasi 1, no. 3 (Fall 1995)

(39.) Aras, p. 62.

(40.) Sule Kut, "Filistin Sorunu ve Turkiye." in Ortadogu Sorunlari ve Turkiye, ed. Haluk Ulman (Istanbul: TUSES, 1991), 26. This era, in addition to all mentioned so far, witnessed a set of peace initiatives and proposals put forward for the solution of the Palestinian question. The Turkish perception of the question differed to a considerable extent from the attitude of the U.S. Turkey worked hard to prove that it was not an American satellite in the region. In that respect, it approved the Fez Peace Plan, which was prepared by the Arab countries, as being more realistic than the Reagan Plan. While there were considerable differences between Turkey and the U.S. over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Turkey did not seem to differ substantially from the position of Europeans taken in the Venice Declaration of 1980. Both groups regarded the conflict as a threat to stability in the Middle East and both agreed on the importance of the right of self-determination of the Palestinians, including Palestinian stateh ood and the Israeli right to exist. In addition, both considered the PLO an essential participant of the peace process. Along with these similarities, there were some differences between the Turkish and West European positions. The most important was that Turkish policy was based on a low-profile and non-interventionist approach to the question while the European approach was in favor of an enlarged process to include the USSR and Europeans at an international conference. Turkey, however, was extremely reluctant to support any initiative that might have increased the Soviet role in the conflict.

(41.) Gurkan, p. 106.

(42.) Aykan, p.105.

(43.) Ibid. p.106.

(44.) Turgut Ozal "Opening Remarks" Dis Politika ve Ekonomi Acilarindan Turkiye'nin Stratejik Oncelikleri Sempozyomu, Istanbul: 5 Kasim 1991; and Mehmet Barlas, Turgut Ozal'in Anilari (Istanbul: Genclik Pub.,1994), p.128

(45.) Gozen, p.75.

(46.) Kurkcuoglu, p.47.

(48.) Omer Kurkcuoglu, "The Evolution of Turkish-Arab Relations," in The Middle East in Turkish-American Relations, ed. G.S. Harris (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation), p.47.

(49.) Turkish Yearbook of International Relations 12, (Ankara: 1973), p. 184.

(50.) Aykan, p. 95.

(51.) Gozen, 75.

(52.) Meanwhile, two new dimensions were added to Turkey's Middle East policy with developments in the domestic political environment of the 1970s. The first was the creation of the religious conservative National Salvation Party (NSP), which occupied a coalition partner position between 1975 and 1978. Its leader, Necmettin Erbakan, was in favor of developing relations with Islamic countries and abolishing all alliances with the West in order to achieve this objective. The party did not become very influential in the rapprochement with Arab countries, except in its minor attempts during the Seventh Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Turkey in 1976. The second domestic dimension was the rise of radical leftist movements with close relations to Palestinian guerrilla organizations. However, support to the Palestinians was not restricted to the extremist groups in the leftist camp and even moderate leftist groups did not hesitate to extend support to the Palestinian cause.

(53.) Kut 23.

(54.) Aras, p. 60.

(55.) Turkish columnist Cengiz Candar has provided comprehensive analyses on Jerusalem and the Palestinian question. For his unique ideas and expertise on this issue see his articles published in the 10, 12, 28 and 29 October 2000 issues of Sabah newspaper at

(56.) Yeni Safak, 23 October 2000.

(57.) Ankara Sosyal Arastirmalar Merkezi, Ekim-2000 Turkiye Gundemi Arastirmasi, 3 October 2000.

(58.) Ankara Sosyal Arastirmalar Merkezi, Kasim-2000 Turkiye Gundemi Arastirmasi, 2 December 2000.

(59.) For the rest of the comments see,
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Author:Aras, Bulent
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Sep 22, 2000

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