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A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Experts say Turkey to become center of political awakening

Posted by seumasach on February 18, 2011

Today’s Zaman

18th February, 2011

While unceasing protests have toppled two pro-Western governments in the Arab world, they have mushroomed in a number of Muslim nations, such as Yemen, Jordan, Libya and Iran. Experts believe Turkey could be a major source of inspiration and a center of political awakening in the region for other autocracies.


Turkey’s assiduous and persistent calls to former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak to step down has earned the country many accolades from Arab masses, but it is still difficult to say where Turkey’s unchartered journey in the Middle East is headed, particularly if democracy is an agenda item. However, experts believe that Turkey, as the most successful democracy model in the region, could be touted as an example for other Muslim nations to emulate.

Mustafa el-Labbad from the Cairo-based Al-Sharq Centre for Regional and Strategic Studies (SCRSS) told Today’s Zaman in an interview that Turkey’s importance will rise among regional powers in the new period after the Egyptian revolution and that Turkey is the oldest advocate of values like human rights and democracy. He added that it is not difficult to estimate that Turkey will become the central source of political awakening in the region.

Noting that although it is expected that the military will leave the authority to civilians, the Egyptian expert said it is now difficult to envisage how the developments will materialize. “The army should prove it is continuing with its democratic stance and stand by the people as it did through the events that led up to the ouster of Mubarak in Egypt,” al-Labbad said. The expert also dismissed the claims by some observers that the Muslim Brotherhood will gain a majority of seats in the parliament in elections in September.

El-Labbad expects that the Egyptian people will get acquainted with coalition government in Egypt following the September elections, bringing up the fact that both liberals and leftist parties gained as much as the Muslim Brotherhood from this process. He says that not only did the Brotherhood benefit from the revolution but also other liberal and left parties also got out of the process more powerful.

Evaluating the fate of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979, Al-Labbad also assured that no one in Egypt wants a new war with Israel, yet relations with Tel Aviv will never be the same as before.

Gökhan Bacık, an international relations theorist from Zirve University, said political transformation in Egypt will force every power that has a vested interest in the region, particularly the US, to make a strategic shift in their policies.

Bacık said it is both difficult and costly to engage with the region with old-fashioned policies and that the Middle East will return to its very own dynamics and that this will force Western nations to deal with conservatives who have become central in their governments.

Stressing that Turkey has increasingly become a more significant power in the region from its own initiatives, Bacık said Israel cannot fully ignore Turkey and that it will work to mend ties with the Muslim nation.

Noting that democratization in Egypt will put Israel in a difficult position, the expert said that the absence of democracy in Egypt would make Israel’s position in the world more difficult.

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