Abstract

In this paper the security of Turkey with respect to Syria, Iraq and Iran is examined. A theoretical model is presented for analyzing the security of Turkey. This model emphasizes the power and in particular the military power for interpreting and predicting the security of a state. Consistent with the theoretical framework that the security model provides, developments in the military power, population and economic power of Turkey in relation to Syria, Iraq, and Iran are discussed.

Key Words

Security, Turkey, Middle East, military power, economic power, population.

Introduction

The security of Turkey with respect to Syria, Iraq and Iran is examined in this paper. No attempt is made to assess the security of Turkey with respect to other states in the Middle East. The reason for concentrating on Syria, Iraq and Iran is the fact that these states share a common border with Turkey and security developments in these neighboring states can have immediate and direct effect on Turkey’s security. Although in recent years Turkey had stable and fruitful security relations with Syria, Iraq and Iran, the conditions in the Middle East can change rapidly and accordingly there is a need for assessing the security of Turkey with respect to its three Middle Eastern neighbors. The developments in the Middle East during recent years have demonstrated how quickly security conditions in this volatile and unpredictable part of the world can change. For example, there was a shift in the alliance structure of the Middle East. In recent years Syria, Iraq, and Iran are pursuing accommodative policies towards Turkey’s objective of eliminating the PKK. This has led Turkey to move away from the alliance with Israel and closer to its southern neighbors. The cooperation of Syria, Iraq, and Iran against the PKK appears to be more beneficial to Turkey compared to sacrifices of political support and militarytechnology- intelligence benefits they were getting from Israel while being allies. In recent years Syria is cooperating with Turkey against the PKK and no longer makes territorial claims from Turkey. But, as recently as in 1998, Turkey threatened Syria with war. Syria accommodated the Turkish demands requiring the expulsion of the PKK leader and the liquidation of PKK training camps after the Turkish threat of military invasion. Despite the recent influx of refugees to Turkey as a result of instability in Syria, there is no fundamental security issue with Syria. The security challenge from Iraq concerns the integrity of Iraq as a state. Planned departure of US forces from Iraq is likely to result in a security vacuum and an armed conflict may develop between the Arabs and the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Instability could reduce the security of Turkey, especially if the PKK can take advantage of the security vacuum and project terrorist attacks against Turkey from its bases in Northern Iraq. Turkey benefits from cooperation with Iran in diffusing and eliminating PKK threats and importing energy products from Iran. But, if Iran is to succeed in developing nuclear weapon systems, this development will lead to a decline in the security of Turkey by raising the military power of Iran with respect to Turkey. This adverse security development would result in a nuclear security gap favoring Iran and may lead to a nuclear security dilemma. The theoretical model used for analyzing the security of Turkey with regard to Syria, Iraq and Iran is presented in the following section. This model emphasizes the power and in particular the military power for interpreting and predicting the security of a state. In the subsequent section, consistent with the theoretical framework that the security model provides, developments in military power, population and economic power of Turkey with respect to Syria, Iraq, and Iran will be discussed.1 How effectively Turkey may be able to respond to future security threats that may originate from its Middle Eastern neighbors will be examined in the conclusion of this article.