Turkey’s popularity and power
|The Arab street is fascinated by Turkey and its leaders.|
In his column in the Milliyet daily yesterday, Hasan Cemal wrote about a fact that even ordinary tourists in the region quickly realize.
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is considered a hero everywhere, from Cairo to Gaza, from Bahrain to Qatar.
People who are displeased with the role Erdoğan is playing are slowly starting to walk off the stage of history.
Let’s recall the events that brought Turkey to this position:
-The rejection by Parliament of a motion in 2003 -- known as the March 1 motion -- that would have allowed the US to use Turkish bases and airspace to attack Iraq and to deploy troops in Turkey, even though Erdoğan was in favor of the motion
-The critical attitude Turkey adopted against Israel and the reaction it showed to Israel at Davos
-The criticism of Israel’s policies on Palestine at every platform
-An uncompromising stance in dealing with the West
-Turkey’s stance in the face of the Mavi Marmara atrocity
- Strengthening the economy and democracy and respecting public values and beliefs
-Turkey’s rediscovery of the Arab world, which had been ignored for many years and the communication of warm messages to these countries
And most recently
-The quickness Turkey showed in evacuating Turkish citizens from Libya
Turkey evacuated thousands of Turkish citizens from dangerous zones and brought them to Turkey with careful planning and organization.
This operation, which was praised by Western media outlets and governments, is evidence that Turkey’s position as a role model is becoming more evident.
While Turkish embassies and consulates in the past did not even open their doors to Turkish citizens abroad pleading for help, today the Foreign Ministry has undertaken such an evacuation operation successfully, owing to the transformation it has undergone.
On the one hand there are dictators who are bombing and shooting at citizens with aircraft and triggermen, and on the other hand there is a state that has mobilized to keep every single one of its citizens safe.
This is the situation in the Arab world and the Muslim world.
On the one hand there is a government mentality that values people and on the other administrations that wield arbitrary power that see people as a tool of their power.
The uprisings have even spread to countries with high per capita income, serving as a clear sign that aside from money and houses, people want respect and freedom.
It’s unclear if these demands will be met right away.
But we see that in this age of communication they can’t be delayed forever.
The people have also seen that they can unseat rulers that ignore their demands.
It is for this reason that the destination is towards a Turkish-model democracy.
Of course the spread of revolts to Bahrain and the signs of Shiite resistance in Saudi Arabia have some people concerned that general rebellion in the region is boosting Iran’s strength.
But the Iranian model has nothing to offer to people in revolt.
In no area, from freedom of association to Internet use, does Iran have anything to offer these rebellious hearts.
These people who have taken to the streets with no fear of dying for their cause want the very things that Iran tries to prohibit and suppress.
Among their desires is access to uncensored news and the ability to use the Internet freely.
It’s certain that the Muslim world has entered a difficult new period.
It looks like the rest of the African continent is next.
Globalization is going to make every region a part of the global system.
That the forces of globalization are at work is apparent from the way events are unfolding.
Countries that realize this and respond accordingly will have an advantage.
Turkey has the potential to be one of those countries