Engaging with the Middle East: The Rise and Fall of Turkish Leadership in the 2000s
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This chapter aims to analyze the dynamics of Turkey’s relations with the Middle East in the 2000s. It argues that three issues—economic relations, the mediation processes, and the Palestinian issue—have played significant roles in increasing Turkey’s power and transforming it into a central actor in the region in this period. Turkey’s economic relations with the Middle East countries have grown significantly in the 2000s, visible both in the trade figures as well as in the levels of investment. The reasons for this could be found in the evolution of the Turkish economy, its need for new markets, and the increasing power of the Anatolian bourgeoisie. Relations with Syria were portrayed as a “special case” in this context. In looking at the mediation efforts, relations with the Lebanese groups and Turkey’s role in solving the 2009 impasse and leading the indirect talks between Israel and Syria in 2007–2008 gave it a chance to boost its image as a “central country,” a regional and global player pursuing rhythmic diplomacy, able to talk to every actor, and upholding the principle of “security for all.” The Palestinian issue has been significant in “winning the hearts and minds” of the Arab street and boosting the normative character of Turkey’s foreign policy. After analyzing the details of these issues, this chapter will look at the developments of the Arab Spring and what kind of opportunities and challenges it posed for Turkey.
KeywordsForeign Policy Middle East Economic Relation Soft Power Political Relation
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