Turkey's Role in the Greater Middle East
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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For much of the last five decades, Turkey has been regarded by many European observers as a strategic ally but not as a front line NATO member. Its status in the Alliance--as a developing Islamic state with a strong Ottoman tradition that is nonetheless linked to the West--tended more often than not to isolate Turkey politically and also raised questions about its identity. What Ankara perceived as its crucial role in Western security and defense matters seemed to many Turks to be discounted. Arguments within the U.S. policy community asserting that Turkeys role as a Western partner was undervalued resonated only rarely in Europe. This marginalization was reinforced by twin images of Turkey one of a warlike people that for six centuries ruthlessly ruled an empire which encroached on Europe under a series of despotic Ottoman sultans the other of a romanticized realm with harems, mosques, and dervishes. Neither depiction provides an insight into the Turkey of today. After more than seven decades of secularization and modernization, Turkey is a paradox for those who wonder how this politically pluralistic, secular nation can comfortably fit in the Western community while also retaining a mosaic of Middle Eastern, European, and Asian influences. Like its alliance partners, Turkey moved into the post-Cold War era unprepared for the new world order. It is undergoing a reorientation in an environment characterized by the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, conflict in the Balkans vexed by an historic rivalry with Greece, newly independent states in Central Asia, instability in the Caucasus Georgia and Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus Chechnya, a growing role in the Gulf complicated by strained relations with Iraq and the Islamic regime in Iran, and Kurdish separatism fueled by a campaign of terror.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Forces and Organizations