WASHINGTON, Apr 6, 2011 (IPS) – In the course of 24 hours earlier this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met a top envoy from Libya, dispatched a senior Turkish official to Tripoli and traveled to Bahrain and Syria, all struggling to survive the pro- democracy Arab spring.
It was a typical performance for Turkey’s top diplomat. From Libya to Iran, from Gaza to Afghanistan, Turkey has thrust itself into crises that have frustrated more powerful nations. So far, however, Ankara’s most concrete diplomatic achievement has been to free four New York Times journalists from the custody of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last month.
A foreign policy on steroids is a hallmark of the Justice and Development (AK) party that has governed Turkey since 2002. But the party’s Islamic roots may have less to do with the new orientation than nationalism and economic self- interest.
What Turkish officials have dubbed “neo-Ottomanism” is closer to “neo-Gaullism”, says Omer Taspinar, director of the Turkey programme at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Turkey’s role reflects not so much the country’s desire to improve relations with Muslim neighbours as it does “Turkish national pride and a sense of grandeur,” Taspinar said. “There is a new self-confidence bordering on hubris.”
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