A Realist-Readjustment of Turkey’s Middle Eastern Policy

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Turkish expectations of leading the Middle Eastern transformations during the course of the Arab Spring have not come to fruition. For example, Turkey has proved to be incapable of neither pushing Assad in Syria to set in motion a serious reform process and pave the way for a nation-wide reconciliation course or ensuring the Muslim Brotherhood remain in power in Egypt. Assad is still in power and the opposition continues to remain highly fragmented. Besides, the moderate opposition which was assumed to have taken the lead in the ongoing power struggle seem to have been overtaken by more radical and jihadist groups, of which Al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stand out. Egypt came under the military rule of General Sisi once the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government of President Morsi proved incapable of forming an inclusive democratic regime. Turkish rulers felt quite disappointed by the reluctance of the western actors, particularly the United States, to stand by the democratically elected Morsi regime. Turkey’s calls for the Maliki regime in Iraq to pursue more inclusive policies in the post-American era also failed to produce positive consequences. Iraq is now on the verge of collapse with Kurds in the north hardly waiting to declare their independent state and the ISIS taking control of mostly Sunni dominated areas. As of today, Turkey has no ambassadors in Egypt, Syria and Israel. The adoption of sectarian policies and a highly self-confident foreign policy rhetoric has been alleged to have irked many of Turkey’s neighbors to the south. Many pundits have opined that Turkey has been trying to make use of the Arab Spring to help bring into existence a neo-imperial project reminiscent of the defunct Ottoman Empire.

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