Turkey and the attempt to return to the Ottoman Empire

At the start of a tour of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya (the three Arab countries this year have overthrown their rulers), Erdogan criticized Israel vehemently for the assault on the Turkish fleet in 2010 and supported with the same momentum the proposal for a Palestinian state during a meeting at the Arab League.
On the streets, too, felt the presence of the president. At the end of a meeting, some fans cheered his name and one of the main streets of Cairo were erected billboards with the image of the politician with his hand on the heart, the flags of Egypt and Turkey and a telling slogan: " Erdogan’s hand for a better future. "
Beyond the populist tone, the billboard sums up the aspirations of Turkey, a country that is looking to ride the wave of change in the Arab world to become the regional leader and a major power whose voice should be taken into account in international forums.
That goal in foreign policy lies in its key geostrategic location, its economic strength and its role as an Islamic democracy, but also in their historical and cultural ties with the territories in the past were part of the Ottoman Empire or were in your area of influence.
Ottoman Imperial Space
George Friedman, founder and director of the intelligence company Stratfor and military policy, published in 2009 a book that makes a detailed forecast of what will happen in the next hundred years in the world and came to a startling conclusion.
According to Friedman mentioned in a video about his book, "History repeats itself and there is a reason why there was an Ottoman Empire that dominated for centuries the Islamic world."
"As Europe is removed, as the U.S. withdraws, the natural balance of the Islamic world will be reaffirmed, and the natural balance is in Turkey. (…) No one makes a move in the region without looking at the Turks and that will become more apparent and more important, "he predicts.
A local politician who seems to apply Friedman’s prediction is Ahmet Davutoglu, who besides being the Foreign Minister Erdogan is an academic who wrote a book of 600 pages considered the seminal treatise of the current foreign policy of Turkey.
Davutoglu is so respected that he was chosen as one of ten global thinkers in the world, according to Foreign Policy magazine, which said that under his leadership, "Turkey has assumed an international role that could not be compared when a sultan from sat in the Topkapi Palace. "

The reference to the Ottoman palace in Istanbul to describe Davutoglu is no coincidence, as his "doctrine" (as some analysts describe it) lies in what The New York Times called "a Turkey that is born again and spreads to fill the old Ottoman imperial space. "
Among its main stated there are three that are particularly relevant in the current global context, its policy of "zero problems with neighbors," the focus "multi-dimensional" (with which it seeks to make his mark on several fronts) and the idea that "depth" historical and cultural allowed to have a vast area of influence.
This has been implemented both politically and economically, because Turkey is among the 20 largest economies in the world, has major commercial interests in most of the Arab world and has a growth rate in the first half of 2011 was even higher than China.
Despite the interest aroused by this new direction of Turkish foreign policy, some people prefer to be cautious when analyzing the actions of the minister of foreign affairs.
Critics, for example, believe that historical revisionism is doing a neo-Ottoman Muslim solidarity in favor of secularism rather than many take pride in Turkey.
Meanwhile, some analysts look askance that this is linked to the Turkish Ottoman past.
As he explained to the BBC Stephen Kinzer, author of Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds , "Turkey has increased its strategic power as much as any other country in the world in the last ten years."
The Turkish political commentator Cengiz Candar says that if it is true that Turkey has an imperial heritage, linking the current foreign policy to the Ottoman sphere of influence is a simplification.
"We live in a globalized world and the new Turkish diplomacy extends far beyond the Ottoman Empire," stresses.
Turkey and the Arab spring
Even when the Arab spring broke in the early years, Davutoglu policies were being met almost in full and Turkey was involved in almost all important issues in the region.
Ankara sought to mend fences with Cyprus and Armenia, came to Georgia, Greece and Syria, maintained cordial relations with Iran and Israel (especially before Israel’s Gaza strategy in late 2008), became involved in Iraqi Kurdistan tried to mediate in the conflict between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights.
He also tried to expand its economic influence in the region, advocated a free trade area in the Middle East who joined Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, lifted visa restrictions to several neighboring countries and there are additional transport networks between them, as a railroad that runs through the territories of Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
But the arrival of an era of revolutions affected the economic influence (Turkey has lost, for example, investment in Libya), revealed the limitations of the policy Davutoglu and put some to question whether they are empty words or whether they can really generate a lasting change in the region.

In particular, analysts refer to his idea of having zero problems with neighbors. "The Arab spring destroyed," said Kinzer. "He showed that in a turbulent neighborhood, it is impossible to be friends with everyone."
That was clear in three recent cases: the 2010 incident with Israel on the fleet, in April designing a road map that included Libya Muammar Gaddafi to give up, and the inability to control the situation in Syria, a country that had come specially.
The current visit of Erdogan to three Arab countries is a response to these situations and explains why, instead of prior diplomatic tone, he chose this time a fierce criticism of Israel that included the word "war" and a defense of Palestinian territories.
On the other hand, wants to take advantage of changes in the Arab countries and the new balance in the area to take advantage of its geostrategic position and its historical ties to establish itself as a major regional actor.
"Turkey found that had to decide between supporting the inevitable change in the region or risk being identified with the autocratic regimes without a future. He chose the first," noted Candar.
So it is no coincidence that the tour has started in Egypt, even before the revolution was outstanding power, and it is no coincidence that the banners on the street talk about a better future with Erdogan. After all, that is the main challenge in Turkey.

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