Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Paradoxes in Turkey’s Syria policy: Analyzing the critical episode of agenda building

  • Özlem Tür (a1) and Mehmet Akif Kumral (a2)

This article explores the discursive reasons behind the paradoxes in Turkey’s foreign policy since the onset of the Syria crisis. By looking at representation of Turkey’s Syria policy in two prominent pro-government newspapers, Star and Yeni Şafak, the authors highlight the significance of the February 2012 episode, after which Ankara experienced deep discursive dilemmas for three reasons: the uncertain portrayal of the dyadic context, the ambiguous framing of third-party roles, and ambivalent agenda building. Despite the shadow of imminent civil war, Turkey’s foreign policy elite refrained from framing the real risks arising within Syria. Idealistic-normative calls appealed to massacre rhetoric in order to legitimize humanitarian intervention. However, the geopolitical framing of third-party roles did not assist in the building of diplomatic ground for international intervention. Quite the contrary, it led to the shaping of public opinion toward realistic-utilitarian interference. Swinging between intervention and interference, Ankara pushed itself toward a liminal position. Even though the Turkish government’s rhetorical ambivalence helped to sway anti-war domestic public opinion, it did not help to control the spiraling of Syria into civil war. That is to say, the ambivalent agenda building in the critical February 2012 episode perpetuated paradoxes in Turkey’s Syria policy and left lingering implications for the transformation of the Syrian crisis in the years to come.

Hide All

Author’s Note: This study was conducted at Middle East Technical University as part of the post-doctoral research project (DOSAP) entitled “Understanding Turkey’s Foreign Policy Discourses during the Syrian Crises of 1957 and 2012: A Comparative Analysis of Contextual Thematization in Governmental Framing Practices.” A draft version of this article was presented at the 56th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, New Orleans, February 18–21, 2015. The authors would like to thank Raymond Hinnebusch, Giovanna Dell’Orto, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Thierry Balzacq . “The Three Faces of Securitization: Political Agency, Audience and Context.” European Journal of International Relations 11, no. 2 (2005): 171201.

Salih Bayram . “Political Parallelism in the Turkish Press, a Historical Interpretation.” Turkish Studies 11, no. 4 (2010): 579611.

Porismita Borah . “Conceptual Issues in Framing Theory: A Systematic Examination of a Decade’s Literature.” Journal of Communication 61, no. 2 (2011): 246263.

Jessica Bucher , Lena Engel , Stephanie Harfensteller, and Hylke Dijkstra. “Domestic Politics, News Media and Humanitarian Intervention: Why France and Germany Diverged Over Libya.” European Security 22, no. 4 (2013): 524539.

Anabela Carvalho . “Media(ted) Discourse and Society: Rethinking the Framework of Critical Discourse Analysis.” Journalism Studies 9, no. 2 (2008): 161177.

Viorela Dan and Øyvind Ihlen . “Framing Expertise: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Success in Framing Contests.” Journal of Communication Management 15, no. 4 (2011): 368388.

Teun A Van Dijk . Discourse and Context: A Sociocognitive Approach . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Çiler Dursun . “The Struggle Goes On: The Discursive Strategies of the Islamist Press in Turkey.” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 14, no. 2 (2006): 161182.

David P. Forsythe Democracy, War, and Covert Action.” Journal of Peace Research 29, no. 4 (1992): 385395.

Elfriede Fürsich . “In Defense of Textual Analysis: Restoring a Challenged Method for Journalism and Media Studies.” Journalism Studies 10, no. 2 (2009): 238252.

Maziar Jamnejad and Michael Wood . “The Principle of Non-intervention.” Leiden Journal of International Law 22, no. 2 (2009): 345381.

Loch K Johnson . “Covert Action and Accountability: Decision-Making for America’s Secret Foreign Policy.” International Studies Quarterly 33, no. 1 (1989): 81109.

Benjamin Kienzle . “The Role of Ideas in EU Responses to International Crises: Comparing the Cases of Iraq and Iran.” Cooperation and Conflict 48, no. 3 (2013): 423426.

Erika G. King and Robert A. Wells . Framing the Iraq War Endgame: War’s Denouement in an Age of Terror. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Andreas Krieg . Motivations for Humanitarian Intervention: Theoretical and Empirical Considerations. Netherlands: Springer, 2013.

Maxwell McCombs . “A Look at Agenda-setting: Past, Present and Future.” Journalism Studies 6, no. 4 (2005): 543557.

Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw . “The Evolution of Agenda-Setting Research: Twenty-Five Years in the Marketplace of Ideas.” Journal of Communication 43, no. 2 (1993): 5867.

Carol A.L Prager . “Intervention and Empire: John Stuart Mill and International Relations.” Political Studies 53, no. 3 (2005): 621640.

Stephen D Reese . “The Framing Project: A Bridging Model for Media Research Revisited.” Journal of Communication 57, no. 1 (2007): 148154.

Dietram A Scheufele . “Framing as a Theory of Media Effects.” Journal of Communication 49, no. 1 (1999): 103122.

Dietram A. Scheufele Agenda-Setting, Priming, and Framing Revisited: Another Look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication.” Mass Communication and Society 3, no. 2–3 (2000): 297316.

Michelle Wolfe , Bryan D. Jones and Frank R. Baumgartner . “A Failure to Communicate: Agenda Setting in Media and Policy Studies.” Political Communication 30, no. 2 (2013): 175192.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

New Perspectives on Turkey
  • ISSN: 0896-6346
  • EISSN: 1305-3299
  • URL: /core/journals/new-perspectives-on-turkey
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 86 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 377 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 9th January 2017 - 20th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.