Turkey and Arab spring

Turkish prime minister Erdogan is visitng Libya after his visit to Egypt. Turkey has also taken a strong stand on the Gaza flotilla issue with Israel. In many quarters Turkey is being seen as a champion of Arab democratic struggle and Palestinian struggle. Is it true in reality.

During the 19th century ottoman Turkish empire occupied literally the entire middle east. When the empire collapsed after the first world war, Western countries divided the middle east. Turkey under Kemal Ataturk became isolationist and was focused very much internally.  In fact Turkey took no part in middle east affairs after the advent of Turkish republic.

However after the second world war Turkey moved very close to west. It became a member of NATO and is the second largest NATO army in the Europe. In addition it nearly went to war against Greece in the on going rivalry in Aegean sea. Turkey recognized Israel in 1948 and maintained military and economic ties with Israel. In fact  Turkey indirectly collaborated with Israel in the occupation of Palestine. Turkey was a staunch NATO ally and aspired to join European Union. In 1970s Turkey invaded and occupied northern Cyprus with the support of west and in violation of international law. Internally Turkey had a long standing rebellion by the Kurdish minority which was suppressed brutally.

However things changed after Islamist party of Erdogan came to power. After failing to get access to EU(due to opposition by some EU members who thought Turkey as a muslim country)  , Turkey now turned towards middle east. It built economic links with Arab countries and started taking more neutral than pro western stand in Middle east.

However Turkish policies have not fundamentally changed. Turkey played a major role in the U.S invasion of Iraq . In addition Turkey has turned Northern Iraq into a Turkish protectorate. Internally it continues to suppress Kurdish minority and occupies Northern Cyprus. Although it blows hot and cold with Israel it has not fundamentally changed it's policy with Israel. It is still playing the cannon folder role for west in Syria. In fact  current Turkish posturing in middle east may be a prelude to an intervention in Syria . Turkey may be building and Arab support for an intervention in Syria.

Any Arab support for Turkish intervention in Arab countries is actually self defeating. Syria has remained a steadfast opponent of Israel and a supporter of Palestinian cause. Any weakening of Syria is a weakening of Palestinian cause and specifically the armed struggle against Zionist entity. Turkey still has a strong relationship with Israel and NATO. It does not support Palestinian armaed struggle. How could a country which oppresses it's own minority and occupies foreign countries become a champion of democracy  in Arab countries?

Turkey is still a cannon fodder for western policies in Middle east. i.e preservation  of Zionist entity in Middle east and the exploitation of middle east.

Sept 2011

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