With its large military, burgeoning economy, and pivotal location as a bridge between two continents, Turkey has emerged as a crucial player involving regional geopolitics in both the Caspian Basin and the greater Middle East. As detailed in its most recent "Turkey Military Market Overview," Forecast International anticipates that Ankara's growing role as a regional powerbroker will be strengthened in coming years as its geopolitical bandwidth expands eastward.
Turkey's multiple strengths - including its sizeable population, growing economy, strategic geographic position, and well-equipped armed forces (second-largest in the NATO Alliance) - serve to cement it as both an anchor against regional instability and as a nation with a significant role to play in Near East power politics.
Although its long-standing mission statement has been incorporation with the West, in recent years the country has tilted its foreign policy focus towards its historical backyard of the Middle East and has played upon shared ethnic and cultural backgrounds with several energy-rich former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
...Two key events have altered Turkey's foreign policy focus in the past two decades: the collapse of the Soviet Union and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The first relieved pressure on Turkey's north and freed it to reposition its security focus; the second created strains within its traditionally close relationship with Washington over the possibility of an independent Kurdish state being carved out of the fragments of a splintered, post-Saddam Iraq.
With a significant Kurdish population of around 20 percent and ongoing battles with the outlawed militant grouping known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Turkey is wary of a Kurdish state emerging on its southeastern border and acting as inspiration to minority separatist sentiments.
..."Quite simply, Turkey is seeking ways to diversify its energy sources from dependence upon Russia, while simultaneously increasing its clout as a central transit point for European supplies," Darling said. "And with Azerbaijan onboard and Turkmenistan in the mix, Iran provides another logical option."
Yet despite the improved atmosphere between Ankara and Tehran, Turkey is also wary of a nuclear Iran upsetting the fragile regional power balance and has embarked on a competition for the supply of four to five batteries of Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems known as the Turkish Long-Range Air and Missile Defense Systems (or T-LORAMIDS).
Turkish attention upon retaining its defensive edge does not end there, either. Turkey - which has had economic growth of over 5 percent annually since 2002 - seeks to ensure its strategic lordship over regional rivals and as such, remains a significant importer of sophisticated military hardware.___Source
Turkey aims to be the regional hegemon--much as it was before the fall of the Istanbul Caliphate after WWI. As long as Turkey does not fall to reactionary Islamists who would take Turkey back to the stone age, the country has a chance to achieve its goals.
Turkey will have to do something about the mad mullahs of Iran, with their nihilist nuclear nightmare of the twelfth Imam, the mahdi. Turkey will have little influence over the fate of the middle east, if a nuclear Iran drives Saudi Arabia nuclear to counter. In that sense, Turkey, the US, and Israel share a common concern with Iraq and the Sunni Islam nations on the peninsula.
After decades of placating the powerful Russian Bear, Turkey is beginning to feel its power inside the former USSR, in central Asia. Sharing religious and often ethnic connections to central Asian republics allows Turkey something of an inside track in negotiating energy and pipeline contracts with the central Asians. This gives Turkey more clout with both Europe and India.
Turkey has developed many connections with India and Israel as well, almost unique among larger Muslim nations. Closer ties with India should provide huge economic opportunities for the Turks.
The current Kurdish conflict is the largest sore spot with Turkey at this time. But Turkey would be making a huge mistake to sacrifice its huge potential to be a regional hegemon, just to settle old scores with Kurdish separatist. Much smarter would be to create a small area of semi-autonomy for the Kurds, to achieve some type of settlement. The Kurds have achieved remarkable prosperity and autonomy within the new Iraq, and Turkish Kurds will not settle for much less. The same will apply to Iranian and Syrian Kurds, with time.
Overall Turkey's situation looks good. Turkey had best see that it does not shoot itself in the foot over the Kurds.