Turkey and the Arab Revolutions: Boundaries of Middle Power Influence in a Turbulent Middle East
22 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2013 Last revised: 14 Nov 2013
Date Written: July 26, 2013
The recent Turkish involvement in the Middle East constitutes an important test case for establishing the boundaries of middle power influence in a changing global context. The AKP government in Turkey has become a major supporter of political change and democratization in the era of the Arab revolutions. Accumulating empirical evidence suggests, however, that the highly assertive and pro-active foreign policy of the AKP government in recent years has not been effective in terms of facilitating reform or regime change in Syria or helping to influence the direction of political change in Egypt towards a durable pluralistic order. Indeed, the policy might have been counter-productive in terms of undermining Turkey’s image of a benign regional power, by drawing it to sectarian conflicts and over-engagement in the domestic politics of key Arab states. Turkey has the potential to play an important role model in the highly uncertain world of the Arab revolutions. Its ability to perform this role, however, requires an improvement in its own democratic credentials, rather than being excessively involved in the domestic politics of individual states.
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