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Turkish Foreign Policy, Intelligence, and Security Services

About this course

Türkiye’s foreign policy is conducted amidst a complex geopolitical environment and informed by national security priorities which, at times, are at odds with its NATO allies, such as the United States. Traditionally, until President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rise to power, the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish General Staff (TGS) played a major role in all Turkish Government policy decision making. Over the past 20 years, the role of the TGS in policy decision making has been reduced. In the past 10 years, Türkiye’s National Intelligence Organization, Milli Istihbarat Teşkilatı (MIT), has played an increasingly important role in pursuing Türkiye’s foreign policy goals. This course seeks to equip students with an understanding of the Republic of Türkiye’s security structures and their role in the conduct of Turkish foreign policy and national security affairs.

The first part of this course will provide a foundation for understanding Türkiye’s foreign policy players, national security mindset, as well as the key and perceived threats that inform it. For this, students will be introduced to the main political parties in Turkiye, the Turkish Armed Forces and TSG, security components of the Ministry of the Interior, and the MIT. In the second part of the course, students will examine selected topics—including the PKK, FETO, USSR/Russia, Greece, and the U.S.—to understand what informs the Turkish threat perception and motivations behind national security policy. Throughout the course, students will relate covered topics back to their impact on U.S.-Turkish relations. In the final portion of the class, students will apply what they have learned to conduct live exercises, including simulations of both a Turkish and U.S. NSC meeting, as well as mock diplomatic engagements.

Course Objectives

This course is designed to complement IWP 685 – The Turks: Relations with the MENA, Europe and America, Then and Now by deepening students’ understanding of the security structures supporting Türkiye’s relations with international actors. To this end, the course will examine the role of Türkiye’s State Security Structures, including the Turkish Armed Forces, Interior Ministry, and National Intelligence Organization. This course will also examine key and perceived threats facing Türkiye since the creation of the Republic to understand the motivations of its national security policy.


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