Turkey’s Decline

Commentaries and Op-eds March 2, 2016, Foreign Affairs

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring in 2011, Ahmet Davutoglu, then Turkish minister of foreign affairs and now prime minister, vowed that Turkey would be the “game setter” of the Middle East. Today, such notions of grandeur seem outrageous. After the bombing of a military convoy in Ankara on February 17, which the Turkish government blamed on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, Davutoglu stated that the latest Kurdish territorial gains in Syria against Islamic rebels such as al Nusra Front—what Turkey calls “moderate” rebels—represent a threat to the “survival of the state” of Turkey. Ankara has apparently felt this way for a while. Since last year, the Turkish army has turned the Kurdish cities in Turkey’s southeast into war zones in its effort to dislodge Kurdish militants who have barricaded themselves in these areas. More recently, Turkey has even started firing on Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

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