Monday, June 27, 2011

Washington and Ankara meet on idealism towards Syrian uprising

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington Mr. Namık Tan, concluded his speech at the Middle East Institute’s second annual Turkey conference with probably the most universal note used by a Turkish official. “Turkey will never let tyranny prevail over democracy and freedom.”
Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy for the last eight years under the directions of Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, on the contrary, would be described by and large as a realist one.
It can be argued that Ankara’s realist approach towards stability in the region continued through the first weeks of the Libyan upheaval. In the beginning of March, when Amb. Selim Yenel, deputy undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, was visiting Washington right about the time Moammar Gadhafi’s forces began his move to crash evolving rebel forces. Yenel’s message to Washington was: “We have to look out for our interests there... saying certain things are good, but living in the real world, of course our approach and our policies have to gear toward this realism.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy adviser Mr. İbrahim Kalın also carried similar messages to Washington in the past. During a conference in Washington right before the Arab Spring started, Kalın was very much unwilling to talk about Turkey’s such moral role in discussions and considered related questions in terms of “democracy promotion,” a bad reminder of Bush’s Middle East foreign policy.
Last week though Kalın was much more forthright in Washington while talking about Turkey’s moral standing. Arab governments that will be “more democratic, transparent, that uphold the rule of law, human rights and prosper; will not be against our interests... because this is what Turkey wants to do... relations with the neighbors in the region,” Kalın remarked while explaining why Turkey will be straightened, not weakened, by the Arab Spring.
According to Kalın, another reason Ankara will be winner in the end is because Ankara is the only capital that has developed special relations both with region’s leaders and people, through hosting various opposition groups and continuing dialogue with Hezbollah, Hamas or Muslim Brotherhood.
For whatever the reasons are, Ankara’s newly pro-change posture is highly appreciated by the United States administration, in which Ankara applies one of the harshest languages in the region towards Damascus.
To set the record straight, it was not only Ankara who was pursuing a “stability first” attitude in the region. In 2009, newly elected President Barack Obama, all of a sudden, found his administration in a situation to deal with the Iran’s post-election unrest when Obama’s realist foreign policy was distancing itself from the “maligned” Bush’s idealist Middle Eastern policy. To undo the Bush years, Obama sought to repair somewhat strained relations with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, started an encroachment with Bashar al-Assad, while downplaying the protests in Iran.
Nowadays, Obama’s June 2009 big speech in Cairo or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s warning remarks in Doha addressing the region’s governments, which took place just about 10 days before the revolution started in Egypt, are the rare idealistic moments that the U.S. officials now can cling to while looking back.
Instead, as the Arab Spring tumbled several dictators, Washington rapidly swung towards idealistic tones, both in the beginning of the Libya operation and when he laid out his administration’s Middle East vision in May.
It is obviously not a given result that Ankara’s or Washington’s increased idealistic voices or their current pressing arguments against Syrian regime will pay off quickly. Social, economic and political shortcomings of the Arab nations, as many political scientists argue, indeed reasons for all to worry in the short term results.
Still, instead of supporting despotic regimes and being deceived by a fake stability, Ankara and Washington increasingly appear to believe that gone are the days of providing zero problems to despots.
It is not a bad policy change at all.

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Guest - dd
2011-06-27 14:11:52
  turkey has a long way to go to satisfy EU desires  

Guest - Fahd alharby, Madina, S Arabia
2011-06-27 02:15:19
  Turkey has an excellent chance after the early stumble in Libya,Syria is a strategic opening for Turkey to Contribute by kicking Assad out

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