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Erdogan’s Victory: What Does Mean for MENA?

Erdogan’s Victory: What Does Mean for MENA? \ Newslooks \ Washington DC .. The Erdogan’s third victory in the presidential elections in Turkey highlights an historic main driver for Turkish foreign policy.  During the past decade, Ankara has chosen to support the Arab revolutions, in particular the political Islam` factions in the Mena region. It was one of the major features of the Turkish policy which had focused on the Arab-Islamic world, as an extension of its strategic depth, rather than succumbing in the hands of the west.

A ballot with the names and images of two presidential candidates, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, at a polling station, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 28, 2023. Voters in Turkey returned to the polls Sunday to decide whether the country’s longtime leader, Erdogan, stretches his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade or is unseated by a challenger who has promised to restore a more democratic society. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Aftermath the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East, Turkey has played a main role in opposing the Arab counter-revolutionary regimes, and has provided a safe haven for Islamic leaders who were forced to leave their homeland and established in foreign countries. Ankara was welcoming the majority of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and providing them with financial and logistical support.

Turkey was able to exert political influence on the decisions and policies of Islamic movements, but the greatest influence exerted by the Turkish Justice and Development Party was its ability to set up a “model” for these movements.  The Turkish JDP, portrayed itself as a conservative party which has been so successful in ruling this large secular country, and boosting its conservative Islamic ideology, aligned with the Western democracy formulas.

Turkey concretizes a close political and economic rapprochement with both Morocco and Algeria and has intervened militarily in Libya to save the military balance threatened by other forces that are supporting khalifa Haftar. The Libya`s landscape  is still under the  fragmented state divided between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Government of Tobrok, due the struggle  which has upraised  since the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

 Erdogan’s success in the recent presidential elections, pave the way  to reset its foreign policy and adapt it with  the international and regional environment, by restoring warm relations with many Arab countries that succeeded in overcoming the Arab Spring`s impasse , such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The past few months have highlighted a small rapprochement between Ankara and Cairo. Few years ago, the Turkish and Egyptian relationship has witnessed a critical escalation and the diplomatic relations between them were very unlikely.  Both sides attacked, formally and informally, each other via their local media. Actually, both the two countries may resume diplomatic relations as a result of appeasement of their positions. Launching a new era of positive reactions, the purpose of the leaders of the two countries is to discuss at the government level and exchange warm messages, which could pave the way for the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations.

In 2013, diplomatic relations between Cairo and Ankara experienced a major deterioration and a diplomatic rupture, due to the current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi maneuvers to overthrowing the President Mohamed Morsi, the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest political Islamic group in the Arab world.

It’s more likely that the victory of the Justice and Development Party in the presidential elections in Turkey, will establish a strong impetus for Turkey’s foreign policy towards the Arab region. The major key of this policy will focus to enhance cooperation and guarantee the zero- sum conflicts with its circle of relevance. Ankara started to look with a good eye to  its relations with the Gulf countries taking into consideration the increasing economic opportunities provided by this region , given that their importance as a  source of investments and a valuable market for Turkish civil and military companies. On the other hand, the Gulf States will be more enthusiastic in strengthening economic and military relations, specially the elections showed that Erdogan is still Turkey’s strongman at least for the upcoming few years.

The Maghreb region also is considered as an important sub- region for the Turkish foreign policy. Actually, Turkey is opting for a soft and calm attitude, towards the countries of the region, for instance, we did not hear any Turkish reaction about the political crisis in Tunisia.  The same reaction has been recorded regarding the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as Ankara, for the elections reasons, didn’t condemn the violent and settlement policy of the extremist Israeli government.

Regarding Turkey’s and Morocco`s relationship, the Kingdom of Morocco is particularly interested in Ankara’s position on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara. During his visit to Morocco in 2013, Erdogan expressed Turkey’s position refusing to recognize the Polisario militia and emphasized Morocco’s sovereignty over its southern provinces. However, Turkey has recently shown much more moderation attitude (neutrality position), by calling for a United Nations settlement to resolve this issue, given the importance of its economic relations weight with Algeria. For instance, almost 5000 Turkish private companies are serving in this country. Turkey is more likely to continue the same equilibrium policy toward the two countries in a way that serves Turkish interests, but without triggering the anger of the two countries regarding the diplomatic conflict between them.

In Libya, it is not likely that Turkey changes its policy based on the political and military support to the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, as Turkey has signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya on November 27, 2019 defining the maritime borders between the two countries. The Turkish role in achieving a military balance in Libya for the Tripoli government`s benefit cannot be ignored. It is expected that Ankara will adopt a less interventionist policy regarding the Libyan conflict and may be show more enthusiastic to participate in the international reconciliation process to achieve an agreement between the conflicted parties in Libya.  The main challenge for this country is adopting a conciliated constitution and organizes presidential and legislative elections in the near future.

During the last two decades, the Turkish foreign policy has been criticized for not being realistic and its objectives were so far reaching but hard to be real. This policys goal was often not compatible with the capabilities of Turkish state weight in the international scope. Erdoghans government has relatively failed to set clear foreign policy priorities particularly within the Mena`s region. For example, Erdogan’s policy in Syria was not balanced and clear in term of its outcomes, as the Turkish government has established precisely specific areas under its control without having  a global vision of a political settlement in Syria. Based on this misleading approach, Turkey has hosted a large number of Syrian refugees that exceed its ability to absorb and integrate them into the Turkish economy and social fabric.

Brief, Turkish foreign policy towards the Arab world is facing a hard challenge. The economic crisis that has exacerbated in the country after the Corona-virus crisis and the Russian-Ukrainian war is pushing Turkey to harmonize and address its policy on the basis of economic and strategic needs trying to seize all the possible opportunities and investments providing by the main countries in the region by Opening up to countries that were far from the Turkish influence.

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Erdogan’s Victory: What Does Mean for MENA?

Erdogan’s Victory: What Does Mean for MENA?

Erdogan’s Victory: What Does Mean for MENA?

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1 Comment.

  • Hassan Elfanni
    July 3, 2023 9:41 pm

    مقال احسن من رائع دكتور واتمنى لك التوفيق والسداد إن شاء الله …….. مزيداً من التألق والنجاح

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