Just a couple years ago, it looked like Turkey was ascendant in the Middle East. It had a booming economy, and Prime Minister Erdogan expressed hopes of reclaiming the dominant position it had enjoyed during the days of the Ottoman Empire. For a while, it looked as if Turkey could become a model and power-broker in the region.What a difference a few months can make. First came the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, which quickly spread and turned violent
. The severe government crackdown ended prospects of continued EU accession talks
and damaged Turkey’s image in the region and in the West. More recently, the negative turns in Egypt and Syria have put the country in an increasingly difficult position.Daniel Dombey surveys
the lay of the land in today’s Financial Times.
Turkey is at odds with the Gulf states over the events in Egypt. Meanwhile, the civil war in Syria has unleashed a refugee and security crisis on its border and complicated Turkey’s already fraught Kurdish issue. Turkey has increasingly strained relations with Iran, because it supports the Assad regime, and with Lebanon, where two Turkish pilots were kidnapped
today. The Egyptians are even leading calls for a boycott of Turkey’s primary cultural export: daytime soap operas. As Dombey neatly summarizes,
The glory days of August 2011, when prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was greeted by thousands of sympathisers at Cairo airport, seem very far away. Indeed the upheaval in the Arab world, which once seemed set to bolster Turkey’s influence, is turning into a serious headache on issues ranging from soap operas to shootings.
This interesting take on the Turkish situation is worth reading in full.[Prime Minister Erdogan photo courtesy Getty Images]