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Erdogan's Syria Policy: Wrong from the Start

Tulin Daloglu examines the origins of the Erdogan government's troubled Syria policies. 
Turkey's Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad greets members of the media at Ciragan Palace in Istanbul May 9, 2010. REUTERS/Ibrahim Usta/Pool   (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2DNJR

How far can goodwill get you? If it is supported by facts and grounded in actions, perhaps as far as you want it to. If not, remain alert. Take for instance, the trouble caused for Turkey by the “zero problems with neighbors” policy of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. This duo had become so confident in their mutual self-righteousness that they constantly slammed their predecessor governments for supposedly turning their backs on the Middle East and instead partnering with the West and Israel, as if this preference constituted racism toward Arabs and Muslims.

Hearing about modern Turkey’s history from Erdogan representatives, one wonders whether they approve of anything in Turkey’s past. The fact is that previous Turkish governments did, of course, have relations with the Arab states, including Syria, even when its regime was harboring Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party and Turkey’s most wanted man for more than a decade. Cherry-picking and manipulating facts for political gain plays well in Turkey, but the fact is that the old Turkey, while certainly not without its faults, had a more balanced and objective approach to dealings in the Middle East because past governments recognized that Ankara alone could not fix the region’s acute and age-old problems. Thus, while maintaining its own identity, Turkey also strengthened its position with allies in the West.

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