M A Hossain
The changing dynamics of globalisation, post-Cold War era, has brought forth systemic changes shifting the centres of power. In the 21st century, the Western world is gradually losing its appeal, which is arguably being replaced by the new international system for the erosion of the principles of sovereignty, territorial, non-intervention, the increasing importance of human rights and democracy. Amid this chaotic transformation, Turkey has gradually emerged as one of the leading global powers, when it unfailingly exposed the hawkish policy on the Middle East(ME), the Caucasus, the Balkans even in Sub Sahara and Latin America. Turkish role as a regional power has been increased undeniably in many folds, since the Justice and Development Party(AKP) came to power. AKP's stern and occasionally aggressive leadership did not only aspire Turkey to be exalted as one of the dramatis personae in the race of not only in the regional power but also globally.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not miss out on the chance to either proclaim his nation as a Muslim religious soft power. He also has, in recent years, brazenly assumed the role of 'Big Brother' of the Sunni Muslims all over the World. Turkey, under the auspices of its multidimensional foreign policies, has been making a significant contribution to global peace and security as well as to its regional stability with the concept of 'regional responsibility'.
The core strength behind Turkey's rise is active engagement in foreign policy and her strong economy. Her ambitious strategic foreign policy is centred on three pivots. These are the transformation towards blue water force, the army's expeditionary warfare concept of growing tendencies of creating proxy war agents in various battlegrounds from North Africa to the Levant, expanding forward military bases in its area of influence globally. Turkey has been enjoying a considerable degree of soft power in its region comprising the Balkan, Central Asia, Caucasus and ME.
Mr. Erdogan has adapted the 'zero problems' policy to his neighbours and conducively, the European Union(EU) has no other option but to stand in harmony with the new reality of the present scenario, which is drastically different from the condition prevalent two decades ago. At present, Turkey has the 2nd largest army in NATO and the 8th largest army in the world power. By 2023, Turkey's economy will be within the top 10 as per the prediction of the International Monetary Fund(IMF) and their armed forces rely on its stronger defence industry. The Balkan region is propped up by Turkey for the maintenance of regional peace and stability via trilateral consultation mechanisms including Turkey — Bosnia and Herzegovina — Serbia and Turkey — Bosnia — Croatia. Turkey is interlocked by the EU and Asia. It is neither a member of the EU nor a part of Asia. But both the continents have deep-rooted relations with Turkey and hence, there is no denying that Turkey, as a country, is bridging the EU and Asia.
In Central Asia, the common ethnic, cultural, historical, linguistic ties are shared by Turkish people. The latest geopolitical triumph with Azerbaijan's Turkish backed victory in Nagorno-Karabakh is already producing tangible results. Azerbaijan agreed with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to develop the 'Lapis Lazuli' transport corridor that would link the war-ravaged country to Turkey and also facilitate the transit hub of the Caucasian nations. Turkey has deep-rooted historical and cultural ties with the Caucasus. It has been investing in its geopolitical and geo-cultural position by taking a leading role in the establishment of regional organisations — opening dozens of new embassies and consulates particularly in Africa and the Middle East. As a democratic and secular State, Turkey has justifiably become the role model for the Muslim world, especially the ME. Mr. Erdogan is trying to establish Turkey as a "Protector" for Sunni Muslims all over the World. Turkey is repeatedly reiterating its support for Pakistan in the Kashmir dispute where Saudi dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation(OIC) failed to raise the issue towards the International arena. The First Lady of Turkey was the first in time among any foreign high profile figure to visit Bangladesh to show her solidarity for the Rohingya crisis. Saudi Arabia has been enjoying by default soft power over the Sunni Muslim's world just because the two holiest places are situated there. But the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul could pave the way for restructuring the soft power order favouring Turkey. Turkish drones loitering in Syrian airspace, operatio= n "Olive Branch" in Syria against Kurdish militia, navy frigates along with the Libyan coast, the presence of Turkish military advisors in Tripoli and Qatar as well as Turkish Mountain commandos expedition in Northern Iraq are signalling the hard power doctrine policy.
Turkey has strong strategic cooperative relations with China. Ankara has initiated a nuclear program with the help of Beijing and launched her first military satellite from the Gobi Desert in China. Turkey — China both ways trade valued $24.1 billion. Ankara is very much cautious and made a balanced policy against Uighur's issue. Japan and Korea have strong economic relations with Turkey. According to the Turkish Ministry of economy in 2013, a total of 166 Japanese companies have stupendous investments in Turkey.
Pakistan enjoys the Turkish defence cooperation for India-Greece strong diplomatic relations. The dispute between Turkey and Greece over oil and gas exploration in the East Mediterranean region and the India-Pakistan conflict over the Kashmir dispute have paved the way for cooperation between the two Sunni Muslim states. Defying Western red-eye, Ankara has increased her strong trade and defence cooperation with Russia. Ignoring the US sanctions, Ankara is purchasing the S-400 Air-Defence system from Russia.
Day by day, Turkey is increasing its influences over sub-Saharan and Latin America. Ankara is assisting Sunni extremists in Somalia and has significantly increased her relations with the countries of the Horn of Africa through economic and trade agreements and emergency aid.
Ankara rightfully takes pride in its policies that prioritise humanitarian concerns. In recent years, Turkey has become a leading actor in the field of humanitarian diplomacy ranking as the 2nd largest donor country after the US. During the tsunami disaster(2004), the AKP government first responded with humanitarian aid to the affected nations. At present, Turkey is the top nation to provide shelter for refugees from neighbours.
Turkey's ambitions to increase its global influence in the post-Cold War era and willingness to play a greater role in regional and global governance have attracted considerable academic attention. Mr Erdogan clearly and concisely expressed his neo-Ottoman and pan Islamist visions to renew the ascension of the old Turkish empire and to rejuvenate Turkey to its former glory.
M A Hossain, political and defence analyst writes on diversified topics in Bangladeshi and foreign newspapers. His Twitter handle is @writemah71