Geopolitical Realignments

Geopolitical Realignments

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyeb Erdogan has, in a joint press conference with Mahmoud Abbas said that “ establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem along the lines of 1967 is crucial for stability in the region”. Erdogan also vowed that Ankara would continue in its efforts in the recognition of Palestine in all international platforms. On the face of it, Erdogan’s statement does not seem to be remarkable but scratch the surface , the remarkable nature of his assertions become clear. Historically, Turkey, in 1949 had recognized Israel and the relations between the two countries were good. However, soon after AKP assumed power, a review of sorts took place. Relations hit bottom in 2010 when a flotilla was attacked by Israel which led to the deaths of Turkish citizens. Now, after Erdogan’s statement which decidedly favors Palestine, it is a clear indication of Turkey’s re-assertion and perhaps comprehensive breaking of ties with Israel. This is one aspect of the analysis. The other is that Turkey, as a regional power, appears to be looking East. That is, instead of its decades old desire to look to and up at the West- especially through its unsuccessful attempts to join the European Union-, Turkey is undergoing a course correction and review. It now appears to be vigorously attempting to insert itself in the politics of the broader Middle East. After the decline of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey and the Arab world stood estranged but there appears to be a thaw of sorts now. Turkey’s renewed attempts to broker peace in the Middle East and a more vigorous thaw between the Arab world and itself comes in the wake of larger geopolitical developments and realignments in the Middle East. Conditions in the Middle East have been fluid, to say the least, after the Second Gulf War. The post War conditions have made the United States- especially under Trump- review its stance and posture towards the region. Iran has flexed its muscled and Syria is in the midst of a deep and wide civil war. Russia has also been making renewed efforts to inject itself as an extra regional power in the region. In his fluid matrix, Turkey appears to reasserting itself as a regional power with stakes in the region. It is this above all that is most significant about Erdogan’s statement. Whether Turkey will be able to consolidate and build upon its role in the Middle East and become a power of reckoning depends upon a whole host of factors. At this point in time, what can be said definitively is that the whole region is in flux and new players and configurations are emerging which can potentially throw a spanner in the old equations and alignments.

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