The terms “Arab revolutions” and “dramatic events” have seemingly gone hand in hand in 2011, but one of the most dramatic developments of the year has been the course of non-Arab Turkey, under its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey has made its position known on some of the key Arab uprisings, such as Libya and Syria, and seen these positions change based on developments on the ground. Turkey provided a forceful voice of support for Syria’s President Bashar Assad, and an equally forceful voice of condemnation for its neighbor more recently.
As the United Nations prepares to deal with the request for recognition of a Palestinian state, Turkey has been at the forefront, demanding action. Meanwhile, Erdogan has harshly and publicly rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, over the freedom flotilla massacre incident and the United Nations response to the killings.
Today, Erdogan is making a tour of the “Arab Spring” countries, in the most politically symbolic visit of its kind in the Arab world, in this year of change.
Turkey under Erdogan has seized center stage for several reasons. One obvious one is the lack of a unified and effective Arab role; this was true before the uprisings, as well as after, but with the region in flux, and the Palestine issue looming large, Erdogan has been able to capitalize on the developments to boost Turkey’s standing.
This standing isn’t a matter of prestige. Erdogan and his country’s officials are no doubt working hard to secure key commercial deals and arrangements in Arab countries, as they seek to rebuild and recover from the unrest of this year.
This economic clout will be added to Ankara’s political clout, as it benefits from the Arab world’s apprehension about Iran, another key regional player, and portrays itself as a leading Sunni state that can stand up to Tehran.
By offering to host radar installations (to defend against Iran) and predator drones (to defend against terror), Erdogan’s Turkey is reaping considerable benefits from a policy of realpolitik.
It’s also a policy that satisfies Saudi Arabia, which shares Turkey’s concern with Syria, and about Iran.
Ankara has changed its earlier strategy of promoting “zero conflict” with its neighbors to taking a stand and not being afraid to anger supposed allies, whether the ally in question is Syria, or Israel.
By standing up to Israel (and for the Palestinians), while standing up to Assad (and for the Syrians), Erdogan has tapped into wide sources of popular support. He hasn’t cut relations with Israel completely, and compromises might be worked out, but the policy has certainly stood out in a year of general Arab drift at the top.
Turkey will rely on these sources of new power to play its growing regional role, which might be the most striking development of the Arab Spring.
According to Army radio, sirens go off in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
Finnish military said on Tuesday it fired underwater depth charges as a warning against a possible submarine in waters near Helsinki.
World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies President Ayci notes Turkish experience has showed a substantial increase in attractiveness for investment.
Eyewitnesses said that the young man sustained a serious injury during confrontations with Israeli troops near the separation wall in Al-Arqa town
Syria's defence minister has started an official visit to Iran, Lebanon's al-Manar television said on Tuesday.
Raji Sukumaran, Myuran Sukumaran's mother said after visiting her son, he will be executed by an Indonesian firing squad at midnight for drug trafficking
Tuesday’s dailies cover Turkish President Erdogan's response to a speech by newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci plus Turkish rescue teams' efforts in quake-torn Nepal.
A lawyer for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev called on a jury on Monday to sentence him to “a lifetime of unrelenting punishment” rather than death.
Conservative election candidate wrote on Facebook that she could not 'support' opposition leader Ed Miliband because he was a 'Jew.'
Two trains have collided south of Johannesburg, killing the conductor of one of the trains and injuring about 80 people.
The committee, in a press conference on Monday, declared the provinces of Aden, Taizz and Ad Dali as disaster zones, and said that around nine million Yemenis are in need for urgent humanitarian aid.
Buhari said Boko Haram will be denied a recruitment base "the moment our local communities realize that its claim to being a religious group is nothing but a fraud."
The blast ripped through Tao FM, a private station, about 8:30pm local time.
Appeals court convicts Lee Joon-seok of homicide over deaths of 304 passengers, overturning lower court’s 36-year sentence.
The controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine will be honored at the PEN gala next month. Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose and at least four other writers have withdrawn from next month’s PEN American Center gala