Turkey’s im­age in the Mid­dle East via the Arab me­dia, By Sotiris S. Li­vas


The me­dia can be a help­ful guide in un­der­stand­ing the at­ti­tudes and po­si­tions of gov­ern­ments and coun­tries in re­la­tion to both their his­tor­i­cal past and other gov­ern­ments and coun­tries. In­deed, me­dia not only re­flect opin­ions but also help shape them. From this per­spec­tive, the present ar­ti­cle en­deav­ors to present images of Turkey and of of­fi­cial Turk­ish pol­icy vis-à-vis the Mid­dle East as they are per­ceived by Mid­dle Eastern me­dia What makes, in this au­thor’s opin­ion, the ex­am­i­na­tion of this sub­ject mat­ter par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in the present frame­work of the Mid­dle Eastern sit­u­a­tion is that nowa­days Turkey can be con­sid­ered a coun­try of the geopo­lit­i­cal area of the Mid­dle East and not a state that has the luxury of stay­ing aloof and pro­tected from the gen­eral tur­moil of post-Arab Spring pol­i­tics. As can be eas­ily un­der­stood, the way Turkey, its in­ner sit­u­a­tion and its for­eign pol­icy are por­trayed in the me­dia de­pends on dif­fer­ent fac­tors hav­ing to do with the gen­eral po­lit­i­cal cir­cum­stances of the area (the tides of war and peace, the gen­eral mood of the pop­u­la­tion), the re­la­tions a spe­cific me­dia out­let’s coun­try of prove­nance main­tains with Turkey (and with its gov­er­nance) and the po­lit­i­cal at­ti­tude of the spe­cific me­dia (and/or of the po­lit­i­cal party it is af­fil­i­ated with) to­ward Turkey. There are dif­fer­ent meth­ods of us­ing the me­dia as a means of as­sess­ing the mea­sure of a coun­try's in­flu­ence on a spe­cific area in a given time span or es­ti­mat­ing the way this same coun­try is viewed. By an­a­lyz­ing day-to-day news re­ports, ar­ti­cles and sto­ries, so­cial sci­en­tists are, nowa­days, in a po­si­tion to elab­o­rate the so-called "in­dex of like­abil­ity" of a coun­try -- an in­dex in which coun­tries are placed in a qual­i­ta­tively sched­uled chart ac­cord­ing to the pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive opin­ions for­mu­lated about them in the host coun­try's me­dia. One could also take this in­dex of like­abil­ity as a tool and com­pare the ways a coun­try is viewed by other coun­tries at a con­crete mo­ment in time.

The present re­port has cho­sen in­stead to fo­cus on a qual­i­ta­tive anal­y­sis of the ar­ti­cles, thus pre­sent­ing in as clear a man­ner as pos­si­ble the dif­fer­ence in tone be­tween the way Turkey was por­trayed in the Mid­dle Eastern me­dia be­fore the erup­tion of the Arab Spring and now. The au­thor of the present re­port has taken the Arab Spring re­volts as a mile­stone in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Turkey and the coun­tries of the Mid­dle East (and in the change of the opin­ions of their pol­i­cy­mak­ers and their peo­ple to­wards Turkey) be­cause it sig­ni­fied, for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, Turkey's big­ger and more en­er­getic po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural in­volve­ment in the Mid­dle East.

The fo­cus has fallen on re­ports and ar­ti­cles of the last two years (from Septem­ber 2013 to Septem­ber

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