As Turkey assumes a leadership role in the Middle East, it’s finding out that the job is no bed of roses. Ankara’s once popular “zero problems with neighbors” theme is history. In its place, as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu recently announced in Parliament, is the idea that Turkey will be the “the master, servant, and leader” of the Middle East. But Turkish officials are finding that increased involvement in the region is bringing more problems home than it is exporting stability abroad.Turkey and Iran, despite economic ties, are growing more suspicious of one another every day. The FT reports:
Almost immediately after a truck bomb killed ten people in the Turkish town of Gaziantep last month, Bulent Arinc, deputy Turkish prime minister, said investigations had begun into possible Iranian links to the Kurdish rebels who presumably planted the explosives.
Relations with Iraq have likewise deteriorated. The fight against Kurdish rebels is becoming more intense. Instead of welcoming Turkey with open arms and seeking to adopt its successful model of moderate secularism and economic strength, countries like Syria and Iraq have coldly rebuffed Ankara—and possibly even responded by fomenting unrest and violence within Turkey.As long as it seeks to extend its influence toward its neighbors in the Middle East, Ankara will face a bumpy, bloody road ahead.