By Javad Heirannia

Erdogan will probably ‘reduce tensions’ with neighbors: Shireen Hunter

July 23, 2016

TEHRAN - Shireen Tahmaasb Hunter, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, believes that the coup attempt in Turkey would most likely induce President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to normalize relations with neighbors.

“In all likelihood, he will try to reduce tensions with Turkey's neighbors and extricate Turkey from regional conflicts,” Hunter tells the Tehran Times.
Hunter also says after the attempted coup “Erdogan will have to focus on stabilizing Turkey domestically and consolidating his own power position.”
Following is the text the interview:
Q: What were the reasons behind the coup attempt in Turkey?
A: It is still not quite clear who were the principal instigators of the coup. The government is accusing the followers of Fethullah Gulen. This is quite possible because relations between Erdogan and Gullen have seriously deteriorated in the last several years and Erdogan has cracked down on various press and news outlets associated with the Gullen movement. The two men are both of a dictatorial tendency and therefore have personality clashes as well. On some issues, such as relations with Israel, too, they differ. Gullen supports good Turkish-Israel relations. However, there is no certainty that Gullen and his movement were behind the coup. The fact is that Erdogan has antagonized too many people in Turkey and abroad through his  domestic and foreign policies. What seems clear is that unlike previous coups this was not plotted by the Kemalists. The reason for this is that the composition of Turkish military has changed in the last thirty years and many Islamists, including supporters of Gullen have joined it. For Turkey's secularists there is not much choice between Gullen and Erdogan, and they view both men negatively.

“What seems clear is that unlike previous coups this was not plotted by the Kemalists.”​Q: Some speculate that U.S. was behind the coup attempt in Turkey. What do you think?
A: It is unlikely that the U.S. was behind the coup. The U.S. wants stability in Turkey and although at some junctures it had problems with some of Erdogan's policies, it would not risk plunging Turkey in turmoil. Moreover, Turkey is a NATO member and plays an important role in America's regional strategy.

“The reaction of various political parties demonstrated people in Turkey want to continue with the democratic process and no longer favor resolving these problems through military coups.” ​Q: Some argue it would be possible to see another coup attempt because of inconsistent policies by the Turkish government. Do you agree with such a view?
A: Turkey is indeed divided on many levels, including secualr-Islamist. However, as the popular reaction as well as the reaction of various political parties demonstrated people in Turkey want to continue with the democratic process and no longer favor resolving these problems through military coups. In short, although the possibility of another coup cannot be totally ruled out, it appears quite unlikely.
Q: What will be the impact of the coup on the Turkish foreign policy, especially Erodgan’s regional approach?
A: Most probably, Erdogan will have to focus on stabilizing Turkey domestically and consolidating his own power position. Therefore, in all likelihood, he will try to reduce tensions with Turkey's neighbors and extricate Turkey from regional conflicts. The fact that Turkey's relations in the aftermath of the coup have become strained with both the U.S. and the EU will enhance the necessity of establishing less fractious relations with neighbors.

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