Turkey's growing influence is likely to see it play an increasing role in Middle East affairs during the Arab Spring, concludes a special report on the country published today ahead of its national elections.
The report, Turkey's Global Strategy, analyses the country's relations with neighbouring states to show how it has become more assertively influential in the region over the past decade as its economic, political and cultural power have all grown.
The study from LSE IDEAS, the centre for international affairs, diplomacy and strategy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, includes articles from eight experts in the field, written in the approach to Saturday's (June 11) parliamentary elections in Turkey.
Close ties with neighbouring Syria have given Turkey a gateway into the Arab world, writes Dr Christopher Phillips, but this may not mean that Turkey will act to save the regime of Bashar Assad from popular uprising in Syria.
While Turkey's booming economy has seen it invest heavily in infrastructure in Syria, and while Syrian exports to Turkey are worth more than $660 million, the reality is that a regime change in Damascus may suit the Ankara government of current Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. Dr Phillips concludes: 'Assad needs Erdogan far more than Erdogan needs Assad. While Syria relies on Turkey economically and diplomatically, Turkey's use for Syria has diminished.'
Turkey's new-found confidence to act in the region is reflected in further articles on its relations with Iraq, Iran and Greece and in examinations of its strategic approach to the Caucasus and relations with the US.
Introducing the report, Dr Nicholas Kitchen of LSE IDEAS, writes: 'Turkey's influence and reach are certain to be central to the future of the economic and political development of the region as the revolutions responsible for overthrowing governments make the difficult transition to constructing them.'
The report also suggests that Turkey's emergence as a major player, in a world of decentred power where relations between independent nations are becoming more significant than those of established blocs, could see it as a pathfinder for other rising powers such as Brazil and India.
Turkey's Global Strategy is freely available to download (with hardcopies available for £7.50) at http://www2.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/publications/reports/SR007.aspx
It is edited by Nicholas Kitchen and its authors are: Emiliano Alessandri, Ekavi Athanassopoulou, Fadi Hakura, Elliot Hentov, Kevork Oskanian, Christopher Phillips, Hasan Turunc and Joshua Walker.
For more information, to request an interview with one of the report's authors please contact LSE's press office on +44 (0)207 955 7060 or Pressoffice@lse.ac.uk
7 June 2011