Arab Spring, Turkish Fall

(Foreign Policy) Steven A. Cook - The Arab uprisings seemed tailor-made for the "new Turkey" to exert its much-vaunted influence in the Middle East. Yet Ankara has been downright clumsy in dealing with the Arab upheavals. Despite the brutality and chaos instigated by Muammar Gaddafi, Erdogan found it difficult to decisively cut ties with the Libyan leader, and seems to be engaged in a similar diplomatic dance with regard to Syria. There was always a lot less to Ankara's influence in the Arab world than met the eye. Turkish leaders love the anecdotes about Arabs watching Turkish soap operas, and the comparison between the Turkish prime minister and Gamal Abdel Nasser, but the new Ottomans have found it as difficult to manage the politics of the region as the Sultans before them. At base, the Turks managed a measure of influence during a period of Arab decay.

2011-05-06 00:00:00

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