Erdoğan's trip to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi; The beginning of the order-making process in the region

Hans Joachim Morgenthau considers the government as a unified entity with the specific function of maintaining the nation's survival, acting based on the national interest. Maintaining survival has different aspects, starting from security and ending at its highest level, which is maintaining the quality of life in material and spiritual dimensions.
24 July 2023
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Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini

Hans Joachim Morgenthau considers the government as a unified entity with the specific function of maintaining the nation's survival, acting based on the national interest. Maintaining survival has different aspects, starting from security and ending at its highest level, which is maintaining the quality of life in material and spiritual dimensions.

Developed governments see their citizens' culture, education, health, and well-being as aspects of maintaining the country's survival. Also, Morgenthau believes that a country that places its guidelines in foreign policy and its own national interests also sets privacy for the national interests of other countries. Therefore, the interaction of countries based on national interests leads to neighborhood, regional, and international regimes that create peace and stability and cause countries to interact with each other.

The situation that Morgenthau draws of interactive relations between countries guided by their national interests is gradually emerging in the West Asian region. The favor of the region's nations from security and welfare-oriented functionalist governments is increasing. The unelected and the kingdom of the region governments have also defined their survival by playing the role of a functionalist government. After the heavy costs paid by the governments of the region following the Arab quasi-revolutions and the energy that was taken from various actors in the crises of Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc., in the form of erosion, also, the lack of trust and perhaps the disappointment that the governments of the region, especially America's regional allies, found towards the Trump administration and to some extent Biden, the need to maintain peace and stability in the West Asian region with the participation of effective actors in this region has become more evident than before. The political initiatives and economic collaborations that we have witnessed in the region in the past two years are the promise of a new regional order in West Asia, whose founders are mainly regional actors.

Erdoğan's trip to Saudi Arabia and UAE can be explained from this point of view. The desire of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to expand economic and political relations with each other is the beginning of a process that starts with economic cooperation and will gradually spread to the political, security, and cultural fields.

  1. The results of the elections in Turkey and reliable surveys of Turkish society show that the political polarization between Islamists and liberals is deepening. Erdoğan's government is pursuing the expansion of relations with Islamic countries to maintain its social capital, i.e., to maintain the satisfaction of Islamists.
  2. Erdoğan's government has shown that it is very flexible in foreign policy and can change directions according to its interests. Syria, Iraq, and Israel are examples of the change in the behavior of the Erdoğan government in recent years. The Erdoğan government's experience of the inefficiency of the Brotherhood governments in Egypt and Tunisia has also caused Turkey to reconsider its Neo-Ottomanism policies. Erdoğan's government likes the emergence of Brotherhood governments in the region but is not willing to pay for the emergence and maintenance of Brotherhood governments. Based on this, Erdoğan's government has shown to the Arab countries, including the UAE, that supporting and not supporting the Brotherhood in other countries, including the Brotherhood in the UAE, has placed a material scale in front of itself and has no ideological commitment.
  3. The same material scale dictates Erdoğan's government; in the current situation, Turkey needs more than anything to attract foreign investment and resolve economic crises. Signing trade and investment contracts with the UAE and Saudi Arabia will help reduce Turkey's economic crises.
  4. The erosion of the war in Ukraine has occupied Europe. The foreign policy behavior of the US after leaving Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine, and the competition with China also show that the US has completely abandoned the model of direct intervention in the region and, in the best case, follows the policy of offshore balancing. These developments show that, in addition to changing the international order at the systemic level, a new regional order is also developing in West Asia, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are willing to cooperate to create their desired order in the region.
  5. The characteristic of the new order is that the hegemonic order is not based on the exercise of the power of one or more actors, but it is a balanced order, that is, a result of alliances and coalitions that will form the future order of the region. Turkey's cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the UAE is their desire to form a new regional alliance to have a greater share in this process.
  6. The future order will be formed based on the advantage of countries in economic dimensions and their contribution to the international trade network. Therefore, Turkey, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia are trying to take another relative advantage in international trade by establishing commercial and economic cooperation.
  7. Turkey does not want to hand over the UAE and Saudi Arabia investment markets to Israel. In the process of normalization, Israel pursues various motivations, one of which is participation in the economic and commercial plans of the Persian Gulf countries.
  8. China's investment in the countries of the Persian Gulf and the decision of Tehran and Riyadh to de-escalate the tension has also encouraged Erdoğan's government to expand economic and political relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, a senior expert at the IPIS

  (The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)

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