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Determinants and Dimensions of the Shift in Turkish Behavior towards Northern Syria Since 2016

Author: Mona Soliman Gadelmola

Affiliation: Cairo University/ Egypt

Organization/Publisher: Review of Economics and Political Science/Emerald Publishing

Date/Place: June 10, 2020/ UK

Type of Literature: Journal Article

Number of Pages: 18


Keywords: Syria, Turkey, Foreign Policy, Afrin, Neo Realism


The study evaluates the determinants of Turkish foreign policy towards Northern Syria post-2016 from the perspective of offensive realism proposed by John Joseph Mearsheimer. According to offensive realism, states behave aggressively towards each other due to anarchic international system for the sake of their survival. In the case of Turkey and its position regarding Northern Syria, it is more a question of territorial integrity than any direct threat to national defense. The Kurdish terrorist movement in the east and south-east always posed a threat to Turkey’s internal security dynamics. Meanwhile, during its resolve against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), the US provided military training and hardware to Peoples Protection Units (YPG). After the expulsion of ISIL, YPG formed an autonomous region in Syria near Turkey’s border. Turkish authorities were alarmed by this development and acted vigorously to eliminate any potential Kurdish threat. Turkey has launched several operations in Syria since 2016 to establish a safe zone, including operation Olive Branch, operation Euphrates Shield, and operation Spring Shield etc. The objective of these operations is to establish a buffer zone between Kurdish region in Syria and Turkey’s eastern border. The article concludes that Turkey’s Middle East foreign policy orientation has shifted from soft power towards hard power to neutralize any possible threats towards its territorial integrity. 

By: Muhammad Taimoor Bin Tanveer, CIGA Research Associate



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