From distant neighbors to partners? Changing Syrian-Turkish relations

The growth of cooperative relations between Syria and Turkey, after the two countries came to the brink of war in 1998, has been a major development in the Middle East. This article examines both the reasons behind increasing ties between the two countries and the new challenges this rapprochement is facing due to the rapidly shifting international context. It argues that although systemic factors have been crucial in setting up the parameters of the bilateral relationship, these factors gain meaning through the complexities of domestic settings. The US policy of regime change and the Iraq War of 2003 and its aftermath are taken as the main regional and international factors influencing relations between the two countries since 1998. Domestic factors like the process of regime consolidation in Syria under Bashar and rising nationalism, the Kurdish issue, and the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey constitute the main lenses through which these systemic factors are evaluated and policy outcomes projected.


Meoni, Brandi; Altunışık, Meliha; Department of Middle East Studies (2022-6)
This thesis seeks to examine the reasons which led the Obama administration to partner with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, and to describe in what ways the decision has affected bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States (and by extension, NATO). Particular focus is given to Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia and alleged shift toward a Eurasianist foreign policy as the result of Turkish- Ame...
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Mişe, Özg; Şenol Balaban, Meltem; Department of Earthquake Studies (2019)
A turmoil started in Syrian Arab Republic in March 2011 which affected mainly Middle East countries, including Turkey. First wave of Syrians escaping from the conflict headed to the Turkish borders and the population movement towards Turkey started. 252 persons entered Turkey from Hatay Yayladagi Guvecci village and sought asylum in Turkey in April 2011. Syrians living alongside the 911 km-long border preferred to move to Turkey due to their relationship as relatives throughout the centuries and ongoing eco...
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Süer, Berna; Altunışık, Meliha; Department of International Relations (2011)
This thesis looks at the conflict transformation processes, which took place in the Syrian conflicts with Turkey and Israel during the 1990s. The aim is to understand the reasons behind the different outcomes of these conflict transformation processes of Syria with Turkey and Israel. This thesis argues that the high-level of ripeness conditions in the Syrian-Turkish conflict, compared to the conditions in the Syrian-Israeli conflict, was the determinant of effectiveness, that is, for the signing of an agree...
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Bilgin, İnci; Göçer Akder, Derya; Department of International Relations (2018)
Following the spread of the Arab Uprisings to Syria, a civil war broke out between Syrian opponents and government; consequently, thousands of people have died, injured, and been displaced. The Syrian Civil War paved the way for the emergence of various local armed groups which have claims over the Syrian territory. In the meantime, the world has witnessed multiple-interventions of global and regional actors in the conflict in Syria through diplomatic, economic and military means. This thesis focuses on the...
Explaining the Transformation of Turkey-Syria Relations: Regionalist Explanation
Altunışık, Meliha (Ashgate, 2013-01-01)
In 1997 Turkey and Syria were on the brink of war, engaged in a very real power struggle. Turkey was aligned with Syria's main enemy, Israel, and there were seemingly intractable differences on the issues of borders, the sharing of river waters and trans-border communities. In less than a decade, relations were transformed from enmity to amity. Border issues and water sharing quarrels were moving towards amicable settlement and the two states' policies toward the Kurdish issue converging. Turkey undertook t...
Citation Formats
M. Altunışık, “From distant neighbors to partners? Changing Syrian-Turkish relations,” SECURITY DIALOGUE, pp. 229–248, 2006, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: