Is Turkey Returning to a Policy of “Zero Problems?”

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Once defined by the catchphrase “Zero Problems with Neighbors,” the foreign policy of current Turkish President—and former Prime Minister—Recep Tayipp Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) used to be a model for measured neutrality in regional affairs. But that model began to crack in the lead up to the “Arab Spring,” especially after Syria’s descent into civil war. Since then, by misstep, malice, or fate, Ankara gradually poisoned relations with nearly every close neighbor except the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

However, the last few months have seen a rush to patch these ties. Today, as Turkey receives a new Ambassador from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after three years without one, normalizes relations with Israel, and even apologizes – or at least expresses “regrets” – for shooting down a Russian bomber last November, it appears that Erdogan is ready to leave isolation behind. Could this be a return to the era of Turkey’s “Zero Problems?”

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