Turkey’s foreign policy up in flames

Egypt, fighting against its own Islamist insurgency, does not want to aid others in the region.

November 24, 2013 08:10
3 minute read.
Turkish PM Erdogan and Saudi King Abdullah [file]

Turkish PM Erdogan, Saudi King Abdullah 370 (R). (photo credit: Reuters/Handout)


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Turkey’s support for ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi led Egypt to state on Saturday that it was expelling Turkey’s ambassador.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, showed no signs of backing down, saying he would repeat the same comments that upset Egypt in the first place. In addition, he made the Rabaa hand gesture, holding up four fingers, which symbolizes support for the protesters of the coup.

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“I have a stance that is known, they gave this as a reason.

This is something that I always say and is on the record.

I will continue to say it from now on as well. I will never respect those who come to power through military coups,” Erdogan told reporters on Saturday according to a report in the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.

At first, Turkey thought that it would be able to take advantage of the uprisings that spread throughout the Arab world and resulted in Sunni Islamists gaining power.

But the Egyptian military coup that removed former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi from power and reinstituted a military-led government, marked the backlash against the “Arab Spring” in the region.

And with the reversal of fortune of many Islamist allies in the region, Turkey sees its original optimism imploding.

The Gulf states (with the exception of Qatar, which supports the Muslim Brotherhood), Jordan and even Syria were pleased with the coup and felt more relaxed as a result – that Islamist groups had lost their momentum.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have offered enormous sums of aid to help stabilize the new Egyptian government.

Jordan’s relations with the military-led government in Egypt are strong, and Syria is pleased by Morsi’s ouster as he had strongly supported the Syrian opposition.

The new Egyptian government has taken an ambiguous position on the conflict in Syria and even seems to favor Syrian President Bashar Assad, rejecting the idea of a US attack on Syria, which would aid the Islamist dominated opposition.

Egypt, fighting against its own Islamist insurgency, does not want to aid others in the region.

Furthermore, the Syrian government has recently regained the upper hand, dealing a blow to Turkey’s support for the opposition.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, appointed in 2009, has led what some describe as a neo-Ottoman foreign policy, seeking to gain influence throughout the region.

He wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine in 2010 titled, “Turkey’s Zero-Problems Foreign Policy,” in which he made a number of objectives that have gone up in flames.

Davutoglu stated that Turkey would aim to join the EU. This seems even more unlikely than it did in 2010.

He said that Turkey would seek regional integration and play an influential role in conflict resolution in the Middle East. Now, Turkey’s relations with Syria, Egypt, and Israel are severely strained, and it recently has been working to improve its cold relations with Iraq.

Turkey’s foreign minister visited Baghdad earlier this month.

An article on Thursday in The New York Times argued that Turkey is “rethinking its effort to reshape the region, and is instead reaching out to the Middle East’s two Shi’ite Muslim powers, Iraq and Iran.”

However, it seems very difficult for relations to warm much since they are supporting opposing sides in Syria.

Qatar, which like Turkey, supports Islamists internationally, seems to be the only state in the region that does not have major differences with Turkey.

The rest of the Gulf states are wary of their support for Islamists, they’re worried about domestic threats to their stability.

Jordan is in the same boat.

Hence, Turkey’s regional role continues to deteriorate as the regime’s Islamist ideology proves to be less pragmatic than once thought.

At the beginning of the Arab uprisings, analysts thought that Egypt or Tunisia could follow the “Turkish model,” but that model seems to be losing its shine.

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