Erdoğan’s Mideast and African tour: putting Turkey on the map,

AR­TI­CLE IN BRIEF: Over the past decade, Turkey has been en­deav­or­ing to carve out a ma­jor role for it­self in po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in Africa. Now, in the wake of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary up­ris­ings of the Arab Spring -- those in Tu­nisia, Egypt and Libya in par­tic

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - By Kieran E. Uchehara

In Au­gust and Septem­ber, Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Erdoğan sched­uled vis­its to So­ma­lia, Egypt, Tu­nisia and Libya, sug­gest­ing that Ankara’s plans to boost its in­flu­ence in the re­gion have been taken up a gear. A suc­cess­ful for­eign pol­icy is mea­sured in terms of a state’s abil­ity to as­sert it­self and con­sis­tently pro­mote its in­ter­ests within the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem. Cru­cial to the suc­cess of this is an un­der­stand­ing of power, its sources and an as­sess­ment of the means needed to achieve state goals. Equally im­por­tant is an abil­ity to forge th­ese di­men­sions into a co­her­ent for­eign pol­icy ap­pro­pri­ate to the state in ques­tion, its par­tic­u­lar ma­te­rial con­di­tions and its po­si­tion within the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem. It is within this frame­work that the new in­ten­sity in re­la­tions be­tween Ankara, and North Africa and the Mid­dle East should be viewed.

Egypt

Be­gin­ning a theme that he would re­turn to as he con­tin­ued his tour of the Arab Spring coun­tries, dur­ing his visit to Egypt Erdoğan called on all Arab na­tions to shift to a “sec­u­lar state” model, cit­ing Turkey’s as an ex­am­ple. The Turk­ish premier de­scribed Turkey as a demo­cratic, sec­u­lar and so­cial state of law, defin­ing a sec­u­lar state as be­ing one at an equal dis­tance from all re­li­gious groups, be they Mus­lim, Christian, Jewish or athe­ist. In Egypt, Erdoğan met with FM Mo­hamed Hus­sein Tantawi, head of the rul­ing coun­cil that took over when for­mer Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak was top­pled in Fe­bru­ary. Erdoğan also met with his Egyp­tian coun­ter­part, Es­sam Sharaf. The two signed a po­lit­i­cal dec­la­ra­tion to cre­ate a strate­gic coun­cil for eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, trade, in­vest­ment and other ac­cords.

Egypt has long viewed it­self as a lead­ing voice in the Arab world, but Turkey’s in­flu­ence has risen steadily with its grow­ing eco­nomic might and as­sertive for­eign pol­icy. It is likely that in the new or­der after the re­cent un­rest, there will be ri­valry over a lead­ing re­gional role, but Egypt is no longer in a po­si­tion to take on such a re­spon­si­bil­ity. Mean­while, Ankara is try­ing to take ad­van­tage of the cur­rent power vac­uum. Erdoğan’s rap­tur­ous wel­come in Cairo on Sept. 12

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