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  • Author: Mahmood Monshipouri, Ali Assareh
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Recent uprisings and unrests across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have brought new leadership to Egypt and Tunisia, and could possibly result in more leadership changes. While it is too early to assess the meaning and implications of the MENA uprisings, it is even more difficult to predict whether the current ferment could fundamentally reshape the region by bringing real democratic transformation. What is evident, however, is that the United States' old bargain with autocrats is collapsing; and that U.S. strategic interests are seemingly better served, at least during this historic period, by working with governments that genuinely reflect the will of their people. This essay's central argument is that change and transformation in MENA has resulted from bottom- up, anti-establishment popular movements that have exposed the flaws of the U.S. foreign policy and will most likely challenge the conventional U.S. policies in the region for years to come.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Jakub Wodka
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: In this timely book Alexander Murinson explores the forces behind the entente between Turkey, Israel, and Azerbaijan. He juxtaposes these three countries, which he characterizes as “garrison-, like-minded, 'Westernistic', secular, constitutionally nationalist and lonely states.” (p.143) Those features depict the identity construct of the three states, which on the face of it, may seem to have conflicting interests in the turbulent Eurasian region spanning the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans. Each of the three states is a sui generis actor on the global stage – post-imperial, western-oriented Turkey with global ambitions ruled by a post-Islamist party, a Jewish state encircled by Arab neighbors, and an oil-rich post-soviet republic with an autocratic regime. Thus, the author seeks to understand how the common identities of the three countries on the one hand led to the formation of this peculiar alliance, and on the other hand what factors could and in fact do undermine the Turkish-IsraeliAzeri security relationship. Departing from the more classic, neo-realist approach to international relations, where the homogenous states – the so-called billiard balls are the sole actors on the world stage, the author draws from the constructivist importance of identity as the driving force of states' behavior and their foreign policy. He looks deep into the tissue of the three states and the regional and global context to decipher the emerging patterns and trends in Ankara's relations with Israel and Azerbaijan. As “all the three states have special relations with the world hegemon,” (p.147) it is warranted to say that the United States is the “fourth leg” of this triangular axis. Washington plays a key role in regional affairs and is interested in forging cooperation between countries potentially capable of counterbalancing the regional alignment between Russia, Iran, and Syria.
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Irina Vainovski-Mihai
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Leaving aside the academic discourse, the “theoretical and methodological shields that usually ensure a semblance of detachment,” (p.ix) Marnia Lazreg, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, adds her voice to the ever-expanding bibliography on the veil. Committed to writing this book, as she declaredly has reached a point where she could no longer keep quiet about the issue, (p.2) the author addresses Muslim women who either have taken up the veil or are considering wearing it. In doing this, she finds incumbent to reveal herself personally while recounting her experience as a Muslim woman growing up in colonial Algeria and that of several women she has interviewed over the past fifteen years in the Middle East, North Africa, France, and the United States. In each of her five open letters, Lazreg presents different veiling or reveiling experiences, interprets them and takes issue with their justification, pointing out that the custom of “covering” should be always regarded in its historical, political, and socio-cultural context, as long as “the veil is never innocent,” (p.125) it is both a discourse and a practice. Based on these grounds, in the Introduction, when clarifying certain terms used in the book, Lazreg states that by the expression “Muslim women” she refers to the “the women who have taken up the veil as a way for them to display their religious affiliation” (p.12) and she adds: “The best but cumbersome way to refer to these women would be 'women-who- wear-the-veil-because-they-think-it- is-a religious-obligation-in-Islam.' There is no generic 'Muslim woman,' just as there is no generic 'Christian woman' – only concrete women engaged in concret actions.”
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, France, North Africa
  • Author: Yasser M. El-Shimy
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The wave of popular protests engulfing the Arab Middle East has yielded markedly different results. While the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia prompted meaningful, and immediate, political change, the regimes of Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen are able to put up a fight. The violent stalemates in the latter countries may eventually give way to political reform, but for now the fate of their popular uprisings is anything but certain. What explains this outcome divergence between the two sets of nations? What makes one autocratic Arab regime stronger than another? What roles do societies and militaries play in shaping the future of the Arab Spring? This article suggests that authoritarian regimes with established networks of social patronage and unwavering military loyalty are better able to withstand calls for change.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Syria
  • Author: Taha Özhan
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, Turkey has been experiencing a decisive transition that North Africa and the Middle East only recently have begun to feel. It will be misleading to interpret the changes in the Arab world as unique and isolated developments taking place in each country, on a case by case basis. “The Camp David Order,” that took shape after 1978, based on Western support for authoritarian Arab leaders, has dominated Middle Eastern affairs for the last three decades. The US invasion of Iraq intentionally or unintentionally shook up the status quo of the regional order. Turkey has been seen as a success story for those countries suffering from a lack of democratization, economic development and a more equitable distribution of income, while enduring a “Cold Peace” with Israel. Just as Turkey had a role in the transformation of the Arab world, the Arab world will also play a significant role in the formation of the “New Turkey.” Turkey will remain an actor helping to build this new democratic and more prosperous regional order, as long as it deploys its comparative, historical, and strategic advantages.
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Volker Perthes
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Owing to a changing geopolitical environment and a new foreign policy approach, Turkey's policies towards and role in the Middle East have undergone substantial changes since 2003. The most important facets, from a European perspective, are Turkey's efforts to improve relations with its direct Middle Eastern neighbors, and to play a mediating role between different, sometimes quite difficult, players in the Middle East. In general, Turkey has been more successful in improving its relations with proximate neighbors than in settling disputes between other states and non-state actors in the Middle East. As long as Turkey maintains good relations with all players in the Middle East and understands the limitations to its role, it can substantially contribute to positive change in the Middle Eastern landscape. This will also allow more coordination and cooperation between Turkey and the EU with regard to their overlapping Mediterranean and Middle Eastern neighborhoods.
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Wolfgang G. Schwanitz
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Ursula Wokoeck's book is a dissertation written at the School of History, Tel Aviv University. Known by her articles on Ibn Khaldun, Theodor Noeldeke, and Middle Eastern modernity, this historian researched the development of Middle Eastern studies as part of a wider discipline: Oriental studies, then still a minor discipline at the faculty of philosophy within the modern German university system.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Germany
  • Author: Dimitrios Triantaphyllou, Eleni Fotiou
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Since 2000, Turkey's Europeanisation process has affected the country's foreign policy both as a structural and a conjunctural factor. As a structural factor, the EU has had a good deal of influence on Turkey's political and security culture by introducing elements of “soft power” and by expanding the number of Turkey's foreign policymaking agents, particularly in the realm of “pipeline diplomacy.” As a conjunctural factor, the EU has affected Turkey's foreign policy rhetoric by introducing new negotiating chips, and thus complicating the “bargaining” process. However, in order for Turkey's energy diplomacy to achieve its goals, Turkey's strategy towards the Middle East and the Caucasus must become coherent and its approach towards the EU, the US, and Russia, balanced. Most importantly, the question of whether Turkey perceives “pipeline diplomacy” as a means to achieve energy independence, thus enhancing its security, or as leverage to increase its power, thus leading to its recognition as a regional hegemon, remains open.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Tuncay Babalı
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Turkey has become an important east-west and north-south gas and oil transit route and an energy hub, thanks to the Turkish straits, and the existing and proposed pipelines that run through its territory. Economic opportunities, however, can present diplomatic liabilities. In a tough and complicated region, Turkey finds itself caught between the interests of competing superpowers and regional players. As the world's 16th largest economy, Turkey's thirst for energy will only increase. Satisfying this thirst requires not only diversification of sources and routes, but also good relations with all neighbors, in addition to traditional partners. An analysis of Ankara's options and new foreign policy vision shows that Turkey has little choice but to use greater caution and engagement. Following its own national interests and security concerns will drive Turkey to new openings in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and other CIS countries. Energy will be one of the main pillars of Turkey's policy of engagement and integration in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Armenia, Syria
  • Author: F. Stephen Larrabee
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Obama's election represents an important opportunity to put US- Turkish relations on a new, more cooperative footing. On many issues – especially those related to the Middle East – Obama's positions overlap or closely coincide with those of Turkey more than the policies pursued by the Bush administration. This is particularly true regarding Iran and Syria, which should help to reduce these issues as irritants in US-Turkish relations. The critical question mark is what position Obama will take regarding the Armenian genocide resolution, which is likely to be reintroduced in Congress in 2009. Passage of the resolution could deal a severe blow to prospects for putting US-Turkish relations on a new, more stable footing as well as undermine recent efforts at promoting Turkish-Armenian reconciliation that have opened up since President Gul's historic visit to Yerevan in September
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria