THE FOR­EIGN POL­ICY? LEBEN­SRAUM

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - MICHAEL DAVENTRY

THE ar­chi­tect of Turkey’s for­eign pol­icy is a panIs­lamist aca­demic who con­sid­ers Is­rael a “geopo­lit­i­cal tu­mour” and be­lieves his coun­try needs leben­sraum.

That is ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of Ah­met Davu­to­glu’s writ­ing in his for­mer guise as a univer­sity pro­fes­sor in the 1990s, be­fore he en­tered pol­i­tics as Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s for­eign af­fairs ad­viser.

The study, by Behlül Özkan of Mar­mara Univer­sity, Is­tan­bul, paints a strik­ing pic­ture of the think­ing that has moulded Turk­ish pol­icy in the Mid­dle East for over a decade. For Mr Davu­to­glu, his coun­try’s fu­ture is a stark choice be­tween def­er­ence to larger pow­ers that will ex­ploit it or cre­at­ing a sce­nario in which Turkey does the ex­ploit­ing. He be­lieves his coun­try’s Ot­toman past can help over­come the na­tion­states di­vid­ing Mus­lims in the Mid­dle East.

By de­vel­op­ing strong eco­nomic ties and a cir­cle of al­liances, Mr Davu­to­glu be­lieves Turkey can con­trol its hin­ter­land. As re­cently as 2001, he de­scribed this process as ac­quir­ing new Leben­sraum – us­ing the term in both Turk­ish (“hayat alanı”) and Ger­man – in ar­eas in­hab­ited by Mus­lims, Prof Özkan said.

This doc­trine is built upon a com­mon Mus­lim iden­tity. Coun­tries with sig­nif­i­cant non-Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions like Is­rael and Le­banon do not fit the pic­ture and are “ar­ti­fi­cial”, Mr Davu­to­glu ar­gued. He de­scribed Is­rael as a “geopo­lit­i­cal tu­mour” and said Turkey be­came “a pe­riph­eral coun­try that favoured the in­ter­ests of Western colo­nial­ism in the East” when it recog­nised Is­rael.

Mr Davu­to­glu is now a lead con­tender to suc­ceed Mr Er­do­gan as prime min­is­ter.

Wilders

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