Murat Aksoy in Haberdar writes that politics in Turkey has historically not been defined by the left-right axis, but by an axis of change-status quo. And but for a few exceptions, politics in Turkey has been carried out within the realm of the state, that is, with a view to preserve status quo. During AKP’s first term, the party made politics with society, not the state, as its point of reference, which set it apart in the historical context. However, the Arab Spring, and the process that started after the 2011 general election, has resulted in the AKP embracing the state, abandoning society as its point of reference. The main opposition party is not different in this regard. If CHP is going to become a strong rival to Erdoğan/AKP, then the party needs to differentiate itself from statism: it must stand up for society and give voice to the different societal demands, instead of also having the state as its point of reference. And the way to do this is to build coalitions with the different societal sections and groups. CHP should take the initiative to build a democratic coalition, bringing together the victims of Erdoğan, the AKP and the state.
By M. Kemal Kaya and Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Arab upheavals that are rocking the Middle East are indirectly contributing to arresting Turkey’s democratic evolution. Turkey’s embroilment in the Sunni-Shiite confrontation in the Middle East has invited Iran and Syria to exploit and exacerbate its Kurdish problem. That in turn strengthens the right-wing nationalist drift of Turkey, making the prospect of democratic reform even more elusive than it already was. Instead of the Middle East becoming more Turkish, Turkey may ultimately become more Middle Eastern.
By Joshua W. Walker (vol. 4, no. 24 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s emergence in the 21st century as a Middle Eastern power has been in the making for the last decade, but only fully crystallized in the wake of the “Arab Awakenings” this year. Unlike Iran and Saudi Arabia that actively supported counter-protest movements to deflect attention away from their own domestic shortcomings, Turkey’s vibrant civil society nudged the government onto the side of the newly emerging Arab democratic movements. Turkey has earned a reputation under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as being a pragmatic and active actor in the Middle East. Despite the successes of AKP’s foreign policy in the last decade in opening new markets and expanding into its neighborhood through a policy of “zero problems with neighbors,” the Arab spring of 2011 has forced Ankara to confront the new realities of the Middle East. Ankara is now in need of a new foreign policy, post-Arab awakenings.
By Veysel Ayhan (vol. 4, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
The September 12-16 tour of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya has occasioned the question what role Turkey can be expected to play in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the “Arab Spring”. Erdoğan is for good reason perceived as a leader who speaks for the “Arab street” on the international scene. But, concurrently – although perhaps less obviously – Turkey’s Middle Eastern and North African aspirations are increasingly in tune with Western interests as well.
By Ely Karmon (vol. 4, no. 9 of the Turkey Analyst)
Against the background of the fall of the autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, the massive demonstrations in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, the civil war in Libya and first civil disorders in Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, there is growing apprehension in the West and among secular and liberal circles in the Arab world the uprisings could result in the coming to power of Islamist movements.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.