Why in News?
C Raja Mohan writes: With Ankara set to play a major role in Afghanistan, Delhi needs to vigorously challenge Turkey’s positions where it must, and, at the same time, prepare for a more intensive bilateral engagement.
Syllabus—GS 2- International Relations
- As a new round of geopolitical jousting begins on India’s north-western frontiers, India must deal with several new actors that have carved out a role for themselves in the region such as Turkey, Qatar & China.
- These three have become critical players in post-America Afghanistan, but Turkey will be the most important concern for India.
- Turkey’ Regional ambitions & their implication for India:
Turkey’s Role in Afghanistan:
- Turkey is not a new regional actor in India’s northwest, recently Afghan-Turkey diplomatic relations completed 100 years.
- During this period, Turkey has engaged purposefully with Afghan over a wide domain.
- After the ouster of Taliban in 2001, Turkey joined the NATO military mission in Afghan.
- However, it avoided any combat role & differentiated itself from western powers.
- Turkey has contributed to the Afghan military & police forces training.
- It has also undertaken much humanitarian & developmental work.
- Turkey’s good relations with both Afghanistan & Pakistan have also given space for Turkey to present itself as a mediator between the warring South Asian neighbors.
- Turkey’s “Heart of Asia” conference or the Istanbul process has been a major diplomatic vehicle for attempted Afghan reconciliation in the last few years.
- Turkey’s widespread goodwill in Afghan has come in handy for US-Turkey in managing Afghan key areas.
- Currently, Turkey which is running Kabul airport security, is in negotiations with the US on taking charge of Kabul airport which is critical for an international presence in Afghan.
- Turkey’s growing role in Afghan opens a more difficult phase in India-Turkey relations.
- After the Second World War, India’s opposition to alliances & Turkey’s alignments reflected divergent international orientations of both.
- Further, Turkey’s deepening bilateral military-security cooperation with Pakistan made it more difficult for both.
- Turkey & Pak since 1955 are remained close partners in several organizations & forums like OIC.
- The shared secular values between India & Turkey in the pre-Erdogan era were not enough to overcome the strategic differences between both in the Cold war.
- There were moments during Rajiv Gandhi & Vajpayee’s tenure where both nations seemed poised for a more productive relationship.
- While Turkey’s Islamist internationalism under Erdogan has inevitably led to
- its deeper alliance with Pak,
- greater meddling in South Asia &,
- A sharper contraction with India.
- India’s narrow prism of seeing Turkey has prevented it from fully appreciating the growing strategic salience of turkey.
- Erdogan’s active claim for leadership of the Islamic world has seen a more intensive Turkish outreach to the Subcontinent’s 600 million Muslims.
- Turkey has become the most active international supporter of Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
- Even the Pak PM has rallied behind Erdogan’s ambition to seize the leadership of the Islamic world from Saudi Arabia.
- With Bangladesh, Turkey has a rough start, Erdogan in 2016 condemned Bangladesh govt’s hanging off a Islamic leader.
- But soon enough he offered strong political support for Dhaka on the Rohingya refugee crisis.
- Also as Bangla emerges as an attractive economy, Turkey is now stepping up its commercial cooperation with Dhaka.
- Turkey that hosted Caliphate in the Ottoman era had natural spiritual resonance among the South Asian Muslims.
- The Abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, Turkey’s Westernization under Ataturk reduced its religious significance.
- Currently, Erdogan’s Islamist politics are about regaining that salience.
- Erdogan’s strategy marks the declining relevance of the old antinomies that so resonate with the traditional Indian foreign policy discourse.
- Turkey has been a NATO member since the 1950s, but today in its own interests, it is capable to break away from NATO.
- Turkey has learned to take advantage of the alliance without sacrificing its strategic autonomy.
- Turkey collaborates as well as competes with Russia.
- It buys S-400 missiles from Russia in defiance of NATO but also challenges Russia’s Caucasus primacy.
- It was the 1st Muslim-majority nation that has established full diplomatic relations with Israel.
- But today it mobilizes the Arab & Islamic world against Israel without breaking relations with Tel Aviv.
- However, many experts question the sustainability of Erdogan’s adventurism because of Turkey’s economic vulnerabilities at home & growing regional backlash from several countries.
Way Forward: –
- Many Arab leaders reject Erdogan’s policies that remind of Ottoman imperialism.
- India that has been at the receiving end of Erdogan’s internationalism has multiple options in pushing back.
- Recently, India & Greece conducted a Joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.
- India’s Lesson from Erdogan’s regional ambitions:
- The new fluidity in geopolitics in India’s extended neighborhood to the west.
- The agency for regional powers is growing as the influence of great power weakens.
- Religious ideology such ass more secular ones is a cover for the pursuit of power.
- Finally, carefully modulated confrontation with major powers without a breakdown of the relations.
India needs to vigorously challenge Turkey’s positions where it must seize the opportunities opened by regional sentiments against Erdogan’s adventurism & at the same time prepare for more intensive bilateral engagement with Turkey.Discuss.