Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rise of the Turkish crescent


"Since the Israeli war on Gaza last January, Turkey's role in Middle Eastern politics has become significantly more prominent.

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development (AK) Party took office in 2002, it pledged that it would not forsake its historic, religious and cultural bonds with other Muslim countries.

During the Gaza conflict, the party made good on its promise. Turkey's government did not hesitate to voice its displeasure at Israel's military actions, which it said were targeting the civilian population of Gaza. Last week, the Turkish government demonstrated its loyalties again, banning Israeli warplanes from participating in an international military air exercise......

Middle East powerhouse

Bashir Nafie, a Palestinian historian specialised in Turkish politics, believes that Ankara is adopting a multi-directional policy, simultaneously resolving conflicts directly linked to its history (rapprochement with Armenia and resolving its Kurdish problem), and tackling the tensions in the greater region.

He said: "Turkey has realised that its future not only with the EU, but more importantly with its Arab, Muslim and Caucasian neighbours. It also realises that Western arrangements imposed after the First World War is the core of many problems the region is suffering, and it is willing to solve the problems of that heavy heritage."

Hasan Koni, a former adviser to the Turkish National Security Council agrees that Turkey is likely to play an increasingly important role in Middle Eastern politics in coming years.

"Given the fact that there are no more neo-cons in the White House, and that the new US administration is attempting to get out of Iraq, the US will need Turkey to stand against Iran in Iraq and the Middle East in general," he says.

"Turkey is qualified to play that role since it is a Muslim state that maintains ties with both Israelis and Arabs.""

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