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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a ceremony, in Ankara, Turkey on May 16, 2022. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a ceremony, in Ankara, Turkey on May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Turkey’s Contentious Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics

Friday, June 3, 2022

Turkey is nominally a close military and political ally of the United States and other NATO countries, as well as an important economic partner to the European Union. But reading headlines in recent months and years, one wonders how close the Turkish government really feels to its western partners.

Under President Erdogan, Turkey has waged war against Kurdish allies of the United States in Syria and Iraq, and supported militias associated with al-Qaida, Hamas and other Islamic extremists. It has also developed a somewhat close relationship with Russia, even buying a Russian air defense system despite strident opposition from the United States—a decision which got it kicked out of the U.S.-led F-35 fighter jet program.

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Turkey has, largely succesfully, tried to maintain good relations with both sides and act as a mediator, delivering weapons to Ukraine and refraining from sanctions on Russia.

None of this can be understood without taking a close look at Turkey's domestic politics and especially its long-running economic crisis and the upcoming general elections in 2023 that could challenge President Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian grip on power.

Steven A. Cook, senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations joins Trend Lines from Washington to discuss Turkish foreign policy and domestic politics, and the relationship between the two.

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie

To send feedback or questions, email us at podcast@worldpoliticsreview.com