tjir_v1n3arb01

tjir_v1n3arb01 - Turkey and the Palestinian Question since...

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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.3, Fall 2002 49 Turkey and the Palestinian Question since al-Aqsa Intifada Bülent Aras* Turkey’s Palestinian policy is something beyond a mere foreign policy behavior and reflects the movements of the fault lines in domestic politics, societal balances and state- society relations. When these balances were disrupted and tension in the state-society relations were raised, Turkish foreign policy distanced itself from the Palestinian question. The state-society relations in Turkey are not in peace with their own history and the tension in these relations was reflected on certain foreign policy issues. The Palestinian question has been a battleground that a number of different identities have struggled with. The Palestinian question has been different than other Middle Eastern problems, and large segments of Turkish society have kept in touch with Palestinian matters. The core of the Palestinian question for the Turks is the status of Jerusalem (Al-Quds) and who will control the sacred places in the holy city. This has been one of the sensitive foreign policy issues in which Turkish society showed the utmost interest. In this article, I will analyze the Palestinian question in Turkish foreign policy since the Al-Aqsa intifada that emerged in October 2000. Ankara’s foreign policy toward the Middle East in the aftermath of the 28 February 1997 decisions has been hostage to relations with Israel in this region. The 28 February decisions were considered as the postmodern coup of the military in Turkey and created an earthquake-like impact in domestic politics. This soft coup also increased the bureaucratic control of foreign policy and minimized the societal impact on it. It is not incidental that the nationalist moment, the rise of human rights
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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.3, Fall 2002 50 violations, disrespecting the rule of law and democratic institutions, and the strenghtening of the anti-EU bloc coincided with the official policy’s distancing from the Palestinian question, even at a time when tension in the occupied Palestinian lands escalated to a dangerous extent and human sufferings reached an unbearable level. The September 11 attacks to the U.S. soil have consolidated the current trends fostering the black and white perception of security issues in the Middle East in the eyes of Turkish foreign policy makers. I argue that this position is Turkey’s official preference and there are alternative policy lines offered at the societal level. The place of the Palestinian question in Turkish foreign policy will be analyzed within this framework that incorporates a number of relevant factors to the discussion, in addition to traditional foreign policy analysis. Identity and Foreign Policy
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tjir_v1n3arb01 - Turkey and the Palestinian Question since...

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