In the Arab Spring, Watch Turkey
Jason Pack, NY Times »
To investigate how these changing dynamics are seen by actors within the region, one of us (Jason Pack) spent his Christmas holidays in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government, or K.R.G., in Iraq. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, K.R.G. officials bemoaned their need of a regional patron to protect them from dominance by Baghdad.
Landlocked Iraqi Kurdistan also needs a conduit to export its oil to the West. The only country that can fulfill both roles is Turkey. That is why K.R.G. officials, instead of supporting their ethnic brethren inside Turkey, have often sided with Ankara against the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K.
All this explains why the bombing on Dec. 28, in which the Turks killed 35 Kurdish smugglers whom they mistook for terrorists, provoked little outrage in Iraqi Kurdistan. On the streets of Erbil there are no signs of protests against Turkey. Instead, one notices Turkey’s ubiquitous presence in the form of construction, investment, consumer goods and tourists… >continue<
Just one interesting dimension highlighted in Jason Pack’s piece. Turkish plays to leverage an emerging image as role model in the region may become a big story in 2012. Erdogon and Davutoglu show all signs of being extremely adroit statesmen. The crucible could well be Syria, where Turkey appears to strain toward a post Assad scenario where Iran is not necessarily cut out of the scene. The situation ostensibly puts Turkey on a collision course with Iran - but more pragmatic dimensions likely swirl below the surface. Already we see Turkey refusing to play the dominant Western line on Iran sanctions.
Direct military intervention in a Syrian civil war, with Turkey playing a lead role, is likely viewed as a worst case scenario. But don’t be surprised if a neo-Ottoman surge risks the charge of “adventurism”, playing its hand amidst a decaying post-colonial & post-cold-war scene. See also:
The Sultan of Istancool | Turkey’s Rules | Triumphant Turkey?
Perry’s Last Gaffe
photo: AFP/Der Spiegel interpolated