Monday, August 08, 2011

Turkey, evolution toward a regional power

Friday, July 1, 2011
Whether the West lost Turkey was one of the main discussion topics in Washington as of last year. Turkey’s close Iran relations, and its vote against the strong will of the U.S. at the United Nations Security Council in the case of sanctions against Iran, appalled many observers at the time. Terrible relations with Israel were another element of Turkey’s foreign policy that the U.S. administration took great issue with.
Since the Arab Spring began, discussions about Turkey have changed dramatically in Washington. Turkey’s Muslim background and multi-party democracy ushered it in as an actor that is most valuable in the East for the West, and versa. President Barack Obama’s frequent calls to Ankara or U.S.’ constant embracing toward Ankara’s Syrian policy are two current samples to prove that value.
While Turkey is enjoying its regional popularity, the region’s other rival powers in the region, such as Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel, appear to be on the losing side of the big transformation. Egypt, as the largest Arab country, is going through a revolution itself and will be extremely busy in years to come to sort out its complicated political, economic, security issues and many others.
Iran, for a while, tried hard to cast itself as supportive of the protesters in relatively distant places, such as Libya or Egypt. Although its rhetoric suddenly became a gross hypocrisy when it backed the Syrian regime’s cracking down on the same demands of freedom. Sanctions continue to weaken the Islamic regime, as the increasing demand for democracy in the region sheds more light on Iran’s own democratic deficits.
The Arab Spring also isolated Israel further by pushing out Hosni Mubarak, its stable ally. Now, while Israel is trying to stop Palestinians from going to the U.N. for recognition, it feels great pressure under Obama’s moderately tough 1967 line rhetoric.
Gen. Brent Scowroft, national security adviser to presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, in an interview in his office a block from the White House, told me that the “dissent or the growing hostility [against U.S.] in the region really comes from what they [Arabs] see as U.S. support for Israel as much as anything else. We are identified with our support to Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians.”
According to Scowcroft, as he reflected the thoughts of an important part of foreign policy elite in Washington, “because of injustice that the Arabs and Palestinians perceive, while they try to get rid of oppressive regimes through protests in various states, they also appear to want to get rid of this injustice... I think that sense of injustice is a deeper sentiment of the Arab Spring than the demands for democracy.” Israel has increasingly felt like “a rejected son of Middle East” throughout the revolts, as one well-placed Israeli expert stated this week.
On Iran, Scowcroft finds Turkey’s policy “complex, but at its heart, not that different [from the U.S.]. Turkey benefits economically from this relationship, however, fundamentally, Tehran and Istanbul are opposite poles. You cannot just wish this fact to go away. Turkey might help us more through working with Iran rather than reflecting U.S. hostility on them.”
Scowcroft, whom until a year ago was the chairman of the American-Turkish Council, thinks that Turkey is finding its natural course and the U.S. should support and understand it. Atatürk, Scowcroft argues, took the Ottoman religious/political state and tore it apart, and established a secular democracy in its place, “which he felt that he had to impose this to take the Turkish attitude to a more normal state.”
Scowcroft has also many misgivings over the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, mixed performance over freedom issues and seemed not sure which direction Turkey is going: more democratic or more authoritarian. And he doesn’t think that after almost a decade of AKP rule, this enigma is not unusual.
Needless to say, this evolution can be completed only if/when Turkey solves its own constitutional questions and elevates its own democratic standards.

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Guest - Kangaroo
2011-07-06 05:38:23
  US ties with Israel will dimisi in time as there is no value in keeping Israel as an ally within the region. The dominant factor is Turkey.  

Guest - ahmet
2011-07-03 20:52:00
  Turkey is enjoying its regional far as the Arabs are concerned. If only Turkey had popularity among Europeans.  

Guest - ron
2011-07-02 20:51:05
  empire nations never stop being empires......they take breaks....turkey is ona break. egypt is on brake. so are others.... ron usa

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