Turkish Foreign Minister Speaks of a Turkish-Egyptian “Axis of Democracy”
The Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu offered CNN Turk on Sunday an hour long interview before he embarked for New York City, where he is expected to attend the annual UN General Assembly, in which he outlined the principles of the new order in the restive Middle East.
Davutoglu, considered by many the man behind the Turkish foreign policy, said that the Middle East was in the middle of a powerful transformation, and that Turkey is “at the center of everything.”
He said that Israel was the only responsible for what happened in the relations between the two countries, referring to the incident in May 2010, when the IDF killed nine Turks on board of a ship that was heading toward Gaza causing a scandal that deteriorated the once excellent ties between Israel and Turkey. The Turks accuse Israel of refusing to apologize for the incident and demand that they end blockade on Gaza.
As for Syria, Davutoglu accused the president of Syria of having lied to him when he delivered his “last chance” message a few weeks ago on behalf of Turkey.
Davutoglu went to Damascus in August, after a very strong statement made by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had alluded to a military intervention in Syria. He went to Damascus with a very sharp message from the government.
When he returned to Ankara, he announced that Al-Assad needed two weeks to install peace in the country and begin reforms, a deadline the Syrian president worked very hard to meet, but could not do so because of the adamant desire of the people to have him out of the office. As a result, the crackdown resumed, and has been going on ever since, forcing Erdogan to say on Friday, in Libya, that he did not believe anymore that al-Assad was capable of ensuring a transition to democracy in his country.
On other occasion, Erdogan described what happened in Syria as an “internal matter” of Turkey and added that no decision could be made on Syria without the consultation of Turkey.
The foreign minister also spoke of a new axis of power in the Middle East having as ends Turkey and Egypt, the two largest, most populous and influential countries in the region. He said that in the context of the seemingly fading of the American influence in the Middle East.
He made it clear that the new axis of power was not directed against any country – Israel or Iran – but was an axis of democracy, real democracy. “This will be an axis of democracy, from north to south, from the Black Sea to the Nile Valley in Sudan,” Davutoglu said.
These statements made by the foreign minister of Turkey come one day after the tour of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the three most important countries of the Arab world, where their revolutions led to the ouster of the tyrants that had ruled them for decades.
The warm reception Erdogan received in the Arab world is considered by many as an event almost as important as the Arab spring itself, because it has positioned Turkey as the unexpected winner of the revolutions in the region.
Turkish leaders asserted Turkey as a very important factor of change in the Middle East and north Africa and proposed the Turkish model of democracy for these emerging countries.
Davutoglu spoke of a “psychological affinity” between Turkey and the Arab nations, most of which were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the last centuries.
Davutoglu is seen as a charismatic leader, with a knack for connecting people and created bridges among nations. Thus, he was appreciated when he gave a speech in Arabic in front of the rebels in Benghazi a few months ago. He was also appreciated in Tunisia, when he said about Tunisians that they were grandsons of one of their philosophers.
This kind of attitude was also used by Erdogan, who hailed the people who died for freedom in Libya as sons of a great hero of this nation, who died in the fight against the Italian colonizers.
Turkey is proposing these countries a moderate form of Islam in a secular state, a booming economy and the reforms that made it a more liberal state and a safer place to be. It is for this that the people in Egypt hailed him and the media had headlines like: “Lend us Erdogan for a month!”
The Turkish foreign minister said that as the American-backed order fostered by Israel, Saudi Arabia and pre-revolutionary Egypt is beginning to collapse in the Middle East a new one must emerge, with Turkey and Egypt at the heart of political developments.
To prove that, the Turkish delegation brought to Egypt 280 Turkish businessmen, and the economic trade between the two countries was set to be of $10 billion by 2015. Davutoglu added that “for democracy, we need a strong economy.”
He added that for the stability in the region Egypt must be very, very strong, and added that it was possible that the other nations in the region, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, may look at these axis with concern.
Davutoglu’s Turkey pledged to install an era with “zero problems” as to the relations with neighboring country. The “zero problems” is the slogan brought by the foreign minister in the political landscape.
Still, little was made to improve relations with Armenia, who accuses Turkey of having committed a genocide against their people at the beginning of the 20th century, or with Cyprus, which is still divided between Turkey and Greece.
The collapse of the relations with Israel is another failure in foreign politics, though Turks seem to some point motivated to say it was not their fault. Then there is a conflict that is about to start with Iran, as Turkey admitted a NATO radar on its territory that would alert against possible missile threats from Iran.
Turkey lost about $15 billion investment in the war in Libya, and the support of Syria in integrating the regional economies. Turkey was at first opposed to the NATO intervention in Libya, but now the prime minister is being received by the Libyan counterpart. As for Syria, Istanbul hosted the meeting that resulted in the creation of the Syrian National Council, the counterpart of the Libyan National Transitional Council.
All these could be countered with this political ascension, if the plan to create a powerful axis in the region is completed and ready to work, which in these parts of the world can never be said for sure.
Turkey appears for the people in the Arab world as a role model, given its astounding economic accomplishments over the last four years. During the trip in the Middle East last week, Erdogan explained the key to the economic success: “management of people, management of money, and management of science.” With such a discourse he is sure to propose the Islamic version of capitalism. In Tunisia he explained that democracy and Islam are not incompatible, and offered the example of his country.
In the same interview the Turkish Prime Minister made a shocking comment saying that his country was the one to oppose the opening by Israel of a Mediterranean Dialogue office in Brussels. He added that Israel made this request by NATO earlier this year and that Turkey opposed it. In other words, he said that Turkey barred Israel’s request to be admitted sometime to NATO.
Davutoglu also said that his country did not need the USA help to settle the situation with the Israelis. By the looks of facts, Turkey seems little interested in settling things with Israel right now, so why bother the Americans?11