Turkey 2020 - Three Future Scenarios

Aug. 11, 2011, 8:01 p.m.

The paper, Turkey 2020, provides an analysis of three future potential political scenarios: illiberal Islamism, illiberal secularism, and political pluralism.  The aim of the paper is to look beyond the normal expectations and current scenarios being considered so that US foreign policy is not taken off guard, as was the case with the recent Arab Spring.  It was structured around a workshop where open dialogue between area experts was used to come up with plausible scenarios for Turkey’s future.  It veers away from expectations of internal stability and instead looks at potential “drivers of change”.  Each of the three scenarios provides the drivers behind the future change which range from the economy, military, foreign policy to internal migration and so on. 

The CGA Scenarios Initiative aims to apply imagination to debates about pivotal countries that affect U.S. interests. The project assembles the combination of knowledge, detachment, and future perspective essential to informing decisions taken in the presence of uncertainty. The project comprises long-term research on forces for change in the international system and workshops attended by experts and policymakers from diverse fields and viewpoints. The workshops examine the results of current research, produce alternative scenarios, identify potential surprises, and test current and alternative policies against these futures.

It should be noted that the selected scenarios were not intended to represent the most likely or probable scenarios for Turkey’s future; rather, they were intended to consider developments that would be highly impactful were they to occur and that challenge both our assumptions and our preferences. None of the scenarios assumed that Turkey will have arrived at an idealized end-state in 2020.

For each scenario, the following questions were addressed: What would Turkey look like in 2020? What factors and events would precipitate and drive the emergence of the scenario? How would potential hindrances to the emergence of the scenario be rendered unimportant?

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