Although we don’t hear enough about its importance to the world stage, Turkey is in the hot seat of international politics and intrigue right now. This is in no small part thanks to U.S. President Trump’s decision to arm the YPG in a bid to help fight against ISIS, even though Turkey defines the YPG as a terrorist group as well. As relations between the U.S., Turkey, and Russia are strained even more than usual, Russia and Turkey are about to set pen to paper on a deal that would supply Turkey with a state of the art air-defense system. This is happening while one Turkish relief organization helps rebuild and restore damaged or destroyed mosques in Syria.
Needless to say, Turkey is in the middle of it right now.
The deal with Russia should help improve relations between the two countries, something is seen as somewhat of a mess after Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane hovering along the border with Syria back in 2015. Although the move is better in the long-run, it does not make things easier for the U.S., where President Trump is trying to distance himself from accusations that he is working more as a Russian puppet than an American president. Sometimes it’s difficult to do the right thing when the need for political posturing and looking strong seems to contradict those decisions.
There are signs of progress throughout the region, even as much of it seems to fall further into chaos year by year.
Turkey, Pakistan, Qatar, Malaysia, and Indonesia are forming an alliance to help stabilize the region and make it safer over time. The pact hopes to increase security in the face of radical Islamic terrorism, while also helping to foster unity among the greater Islamic community. In addition to military and defense aspirations, the countries involved strive to spread humanitarian assistance throughout the region–something war-torn parts of the region sorely need.
In another sign of good things to come according to lawyers, Turkey is throttling forward as an economic force that could thrust a number of other predominantly Islamic countries into the world spotlight as stronger, more meaningful members of the global economy. In order to do this, Turkish relations with China must become stronger and more stabilized in the future. They’re already on the road to doing so.
Part of this is the One Road, One Belt initiative enabled by Chinese President Xi all the way back in 2013. This would create a more reliable land route for trade stretching from China to Europe. The one obstacle to the plan is simple that there are too many obstacles! The number of Middle Eastern countries China would need to pass through is a tough hurdle to overcome, especially in the midst of so much war and chaos and diplomatic differences. This also leads to a number of options–forks in the road, so to speak. Diplomacy success is a huge requirement for getting the project underway, and getting Turkish regulations to bend is yet another issue.
If the problems can be overcome, many believe that Turkey can be the focal point of a new sense of Islamic community and pride that could lead to a reduction in radical Islamic elements throughout the region. Such a reality could promote better relations throughout the region and with the west. Either way, Turkey’s importance to international relations couldn’t be more obvious to those invested in news coming out of the country right now.