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