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Durham e-Theses
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Testing the capacities of middle power relations in international politics: the case of Turkey and Iran

Elik, Suleyman (2008) Testing the capacities of middle power relations in international politics: the case of Turkey and Iran. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The aim of this study is to provide a fresh analysis of middle-power states' capabilities within the international political arena, utilising an integrated experimental model to conduct a unit-level of analysis of Turko-Iraman relations with a focus on economic, diplomatic, political and military issues. The principal argument of this study is that the middle-power state is the key actor in the region, socially constructed within a distinctive political context; resisting super power hegemonic intervention, and having bargaining power with regard to more powerful entities. The socially constructed identities of Turkey and Iran are highlighted as key influences in foreign relations, leading to a complex dynamic between these 'reluctant neighbours.' The limits of their power are clarified as consisting of employing agent groups to manipulate internal threats and apply counter-terrorist/revolutionary politics, but falling short of sufficient to control transnational nationalism. Using this ethnic political card to negate each other's influence invites foreign power penetration into regional politics. Kurdish nationalism acts as an independent regional player and challenges the Turkish and Iranian political identities, both secularist and religious. Turkey and Iran endavour to apply the 'niche diplomacy' in energy and pipeline routes competition in the Southern Caucasus. The study, thus, examines the competing factors of the both countries' geographic adjacency as a stimulus for economic integration as a partial entrenchment against diplomatic mistrust, and preventing systematic regional integration within the last three decades within the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) framework. The role of Iran's nuclear ambitions and Turkey's western alliances are examined as influences on the countries' identities. Contrary to the systemic and regional circumstances of secularist Turkey, the messianic identity of Iranian religious nationalism has resulted in a nuclear weaponisation programme that not only militarises the domestic politics of Iran, but also undermines the countries' mutual trust, with a profound adverse effect on the countries' economic relationship. In order to increase the efficiency and explanatory power of middle-power state, this study amended the middle-power state theory, and successfully tested its applicability to Turkish-Iranian relationship through various variables related to international relations, international policy aspects of domestic political events, ethnic tension and economic relations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:33

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