An emerging mediator on the periphery: Turkey's mediations in the Syrian-Israeli talks and in Somalia
This thesis investigates to what extent Turkey’s mediation differs from Western modes of mediation. It poses an example for understanding the ability of peripheral countries to challenge the prevalent modes of mediation and emerge as problem solving agents in the international system. The study examines Turkey’s mediation in the interstate conflict between Syria and Israel between 2007 and 2008; and in the intrastate conflict in Somalia between 2012 and 2014. It suggests that Turkey’s search for a new identity since 2002, in the context of domestic, regional and international changes, paved the way for the emergence of its mediator role by creating a sense of confidence leading Turkey to adopt a more proactive stance vis-à-vis the conflicts pertaining in its region. Turkey uses mediation as one element in its wider foreign policy which bears resemblance to Western mediators. Mediation enables Turkey to exert its interest in areas in which it has historical, geopolitical and relational ties. Turkey gains legitimacy as a mediator from its dual identity by presenting itself as both Western and non-Western. Its ability to present its insiderness, inclusiveness and cultural ties as assets come to the fore as ways in which Turkey mediates differently. While cultural ties are advantages in gaining entry into conflicts; demonstrating commitment and dealing with the technicalities of mediation played a greater role in securing Turkey’s credibility as a mediator. The Turkish model entails a broader understanding of mediation that includes aid as complementary to diplomatic talks, particularly in intrastate conflicts. There is also considerable room for civil society involvement. The thesis suggests that Turkey’s mediator role has been too dependent upon more intangible aspects of cultural affinity and identity. As a result, its sustainability depends on the willingness of policy makers to improve the condition of Turkish mediation by investing in institutionalization, capacity building and expertise.
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