The Nemesis of Turkish Power

PARIS – A few days ago, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab television network, that he would use his warships to prevent Israeli commandos from again boarding Gaza-bound ships, as they did last year. And in a speech in Cairo, he declared support for the United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state “an obligation.”

So, will a “Turkish Summer” be the first, if not the main, strategic result of the “Arab Spring”? Is the Middle East faced with a neo-Ottoman Turkey’s irresistible rise to regional power? And could the world be witnessing the “Orientalization” of Turkey?

The Arab revolutions, following on the European Union’s resounding “No, Yes, But” to Turkey’s membership bid, have reinforced among Turks the attraction of the Orient while liberating their mix of nationalistic and religious impulses. Indeed, Erdoğan makes more references to God in his public statements nowadays than he ever did in the past.

Over the last few years, the Western world has been asking itself, with a mixture of guilt and apprehension, “Who lost Turkey”? But is Turkey, enthralled by its economic and diplomatic successes, now running the risk of losing itself?