Turkey and the Arab Spring: Between Ethics and Self-Interest

Turkey redefined its geographical security environment over the last decade by deepening its engagement with neighboring regions, especially with the Middle East. The Arab spring, however, challenged not only the authoritarian regimes in the region but also Turkish foreign policy strategy. This strategy was based on cooperation with the existing regimes and did not prioritize the democracy promotion dimension of the issue. The upheavals in the Arab world, therefore, created a dilemma between ethics and self-interest in Turkish foreign policy. Amid the flux of geopolitical shifts in one of the world’s most unstable regions, Turkish foreign policy-making elites are attempting to reformulate their strategies to overcome this inherent dilemma. The central argument of the present paper is that Turkey could make a bigger and more constructive impact in the region by trying to take a more detached stand and through controlled activism. Thus, Turkey could take action through the formation of coalitions and in close alignments with the United States and Europe rather than basing its policies on a self-attributed unilateral pro-activism.

Turkey and the Arab Spring: Between Ethics and Self-Interest
insight_turkey_vol_14_no_3_2012_onis.pdf