Cultural Revolutions

Turkey's Gamble

Following the AKP (Justice and Development Party) victory in February 2002, Turkey’s clout has been steadily increasing in the Balkans, the Arab world, and the predominantly Muslim regions of the former Soviet Union.  Prime Minister Rejep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is pursuing a neo-Ottoman agenda that blends Islamic revivalism with nationalism.  Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s concept of “strategic depth,” patiently applied over the years, has transformed the geopolitics of the Greater Middle East and cemented Turkey’s position as a power in her own right.  Robust economic growth and the absence of serious opposition cleared the way for a gradual abolition of Kemal Ataturk’s secularist legacy at home.  Davutoglu’s policy of “zero problems with neighbors” opened the prospect of regional leadership abroad.

Since May, however, Erdogan has made a series of uncharacteristically hazardous moves.

Before then, his government was maintaining cordial, if not exactly friendly, relations with Syria.  Ankara stayed neutral in the conflict while advising Bashar al-Assad’s regime to follow the path of political and economic reform.  Erdogan’s abrupt decision to support the uprising has changed the equation.  His calculus was simple: Turkey would become a key player in the Western regime-change...

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