ANKARA — Turkey's inconclusive June 7 parliamentary elections have not only deprived the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002, but have also forced the Islamist party to review its foreign policy and security calculus, officials and analysts agree.

Whatever the outcome of the ongoing coalition talks, they say, the AKP will be forced to soften its assertive foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, and accordingly review its security policy.

"There are many unknowns at the moment," one senior Turkish diplomat said. "But what we sure know is that things [on foreign and security policy] will have to change."

Although the AKP, which has governed Turkey in a single-party rule since 2002, won 41 percent of the national vote on June 7, it lacks enough seats in Turkey's 550-member legislature necessary to form a government. It must ally with one of the three opposition parties if it wants to continue its rule as part of a coalition government, or go for early elections, which pollsters say would produce similar results.

"Any coalition partner will insist to tone down the AKP's unrealistic, over-ambitious foreign policy goals," one London-based Turkey specialist said. "In the event of a coalition deal, regardless of who the partner will be, the AKP will be forced to reconcile in foreign and security policies."

Turkey's recent "neo-Ottoman" ambitions — designed to help it emerge as a regional power leading the Islamic world in the Middle East — has pushed the country into odds with regional powers Israel, Iran, Egypt and Syria. Turkey does not have full diplomatic relations with Israel, Egypt or Syriaeither country except Iran. It also is at odds with Bahrain, Yemen and Libya's internationally recognized government in Tobruk.

"The government [AKP] looks too distracted by domestic politics and have too little time to push for the foreign policy ambitions it keenly pushed before the elections," another senior Turkish diplomat said. "We expect the new policy framework will be less Islamist and more realistic."

A Western ambassador in Ankara agrees that the Islamist policy will be "diluted" as the AKP must now share power with a partner.

"It really does not matter who will be the new partner," he said. "We know that all three potential partners deeply disagree with the AKP on foreign policy."

As a sign of policy change, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed on June 24 that top Turkish and Israeli diplomats had held secret meetings in Rome about normalizing the ties between the two countries.

Press reports said earlier that Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and Israel's Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold secretly met in the Italian capital to find a way out of the diplomatic crisis in which the former allies have been stuck since 2010.

"Even that is a sign that Turkey [AKP] will no longer be able to pursue the assertive policy it has pursued since 2009," said one Ankara-based analyst. "A softer foreign policy will require a new formulation of security policy."

A senior military official in Ankara said that a revision of foreign policy priorities will dictate new security policy especially regarding threat perceptions on Turkey's turbulent border with Syria and Iraq, where the radical Islamic State group of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has captured large swaths of land in both countries since last summer.

"It is too premature to say all that may eventually lead to a reshuffling of procurement needs," the military official said. "But if the security policy changes, procurement policy will have to match it."

Some analysts expect that a coalition government would push Turkey back to its Western-NATO alliances, from which many observers have claimed Turkey distanced itself in recent years.

"A potential return to the Western-NATO calculus from Islamist, pro-Third World policy will have reflections on international competitions bringing Western and non-NATO contenders against each other — in favor of contenders from NATO" countries, one defense analyst said.

In 2013, Turkey awarded selected its first long-range air and anti-missile defense contract, valued at $3.44 billion, to a Chinese contender. Ankara later suspended the deal under pressure from its NATO allies and is now negotiating with all three bidders from China, Europe and the US.


Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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