Τρίτη, 20 Νοεμβρίου 2012

From Nasser to Erdoğan: unfulfilled promises


The gap between expectations and what has actually been delivered results in disappointments and constitutes a blow to the credibility of a country.
This is the story of Turkey in recent years. We conceived Turkey as a “regional superpower” capable of determining the course of events in the region in order to bring justice, welfare and peace to the people who live in the neighborhood. Whatever we did in regional politics was for the sake of the people of the region and as such, had nothing to do with the interests of Turkey. It was only we who pursued “moral politics” without selfish interest calculations because our civilizational values dictated to us that we do so.
We always do the “right” thing. In Syria, Palestine, Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Israel, we always sided with the people and their rightful demands. A Robin Hood in Africa, in Asia, in the Middle East… Turkey as the self-righteous regional superpower. How does it sound? I think moral self-righteousness, not rational calculations, marks the essence of the current foreign policy of Turkey.
Thus the government has raised expectations, both at home and abroad, about what it can deliver in its foreign policy without thinking much about its capabilities. The result is a gap between the expectations and the reality. Turkish foreign policy in recent years suffers from its inability to meet the raised expectations in regional and global politics.
Turkey was supposed to be a “central” power, a “game setter” and an “order building” country, according to the Turkish government. Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, you name it -- the region as a whole was viewed as Turkey's “backyard” where nothing would be allowed to take place without the consent of Turkey. The government was not only responsible for the well-being of its citizens but also of the Palestinians, the Lebanese, the Iraqis, etc. A regional mission was sought, a regional leadership was claimed.
Most recently Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan has even raised expectations higher by calling for a revision of the “international order.” In his recent speeches he heavily criticized the UN's system, the structure of the Security Council and the overall distribution of power that reflects the past -- the Cold War conditions. It has been increasingly stated by the Turkish government that the current international system is not just and thus is in need of a revision. I think criticisms directed at the foundations of international systems are right but the risk is that such a stand makes Turkey appear as a “revisionist,” and thus a marginal power. Calling for justice is fine but it likens Erdoğan to Hugo Chaves and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Revisionists are the ones who increase expectations about the possibility of change but generally fail in delivering them. Once expectations are not met, a deep disappointment unfolds and credibility is questioned. This characterizes Turkish foreign policy in recent times.
Promises have overwhelmed capabilities. The Syrian case is an extreme example of failing to keep the promises given to the international community, the opposition groups and the people on the ground. Turkey could not persuade Bashar al-Assad to step down and then force him to leave. The Turkish government also could not arm the opposition to the degree of changing the balance of power on the ground and now are also unable to settle all the Syrians who were uprooted from their homes.
A similar pattern now applies to the Palestinians in Gaza who are mercilessly being killed by Israeli forces. They have called on the Egyptian and Turkish governments to stop the Israeli aggression. Can they? They talk as if they can; in practice it is quite unlikely.
If the Israeli ground forces move into the territories of Gaza then it would mean that an “Islamic” government in Egypt and Erdoğan's government, who openly challenged Israeli policies in the region and became a “hero” in Arab streets, do not have the power to stop the massacre of Palestinians.
Can Erdoğan deliver what he promised to the people of Gaza? In the footprints of Gamal Abdel Nasser he should understand the reasons for his downfall: unfulfilled promises.

http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_openPrintPage.action?newsId=298583

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