Understanding the Sources of Turkish Foreign Policy Change towards the Middle East during the Justice and Development Party (AKP) era: An Empirical Examination
Aloudah, Haitham Saad
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Since the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) victory and government in 2002, Turkey entered a new phase in its history and witnessed major changes in all social, economic, and political aspects. Turkish foreign policy went through huge transformations and the new AKP government was able to revolutionise Turkey’s international position. In particular, relations with Middle Eastern countries have tremendously improved and Turkish interests and role have been growing ever since. This thesis investigates the sources of change in Turkish foreign policy since 2002 towards the Middle East, focusing on the role of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) as a ruling party in particular on the changes it went through in the first ten years from 2002 to early 2012. The significant changes in Turkish foreign policy appeared under the AKP government became one of the most debated issues in this field and created a puzzle that many scholars attempted to explain. Therefore, the thesis engages in recent debates between the different scholars and analysts in the literature and argues that there is a need for a more inclusive approach that can recognize the complex and multilateral nature of the Turkish case. The aim is to assess and evaluate the plausibility of the available competing explanations in the literature in explaining such foreign policy outcomes. Therefore, the thesis borrows and builds on the works of Alexander George & Andrew Bennet (2005), and Derek Beach & Rasmus Pedersen (2013) by adopting the Process Tracing Methodology, which helps to facilitate a better critical analysis and systematic evaluation of the selected explanations. The results of this thesis demonstrate that single factor based explanations actually drive researchers away from achieving a comprehensive explanation and only help provide a partial picture. Therefore, the best way to go forward is by adopting a much more inclusive and multiple factors based approach recognising the important opportunity that foreign policy theories offer in looking at the Turkish case from different perspectives. The results of this thesis suggest that the best way for understanding Turkish foreign policy change is by recognizing the multiple roles of domestic and international economic, political,and ideational sources, as well as the role of policy makers, particularly that of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu. The contribution of this thesis lies within its analysis bringing the wide range of explanations in the literature together, exploring and summarizing the vast number of data in a more simplified manner, and examining the value and plausibility of the competing explanation to try and arrive at the most comprehensive explanation, all under one piece of work. Therefore, this thesis establishes a useful foundation for researchers to adopt and take forward in future studies.
PhD in Politics