The following are excerpts from an article by Dr. Joshua W. Walker, post-doctoral fellow at the Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University, published on Foreign Policy online, on February 3, 2011.
“At no time since their days at the helm of the Ottoman Empire have the Turks been as actively involved diplomatically (record number of visits bilaterally to Arab world in the last month alone with multiple visits to Lebanon and Syria for the foreign minister), economically (greatest increase in trade volume over any two year period), or politically (inclusion of Turkey into the Arab League and head of the Organization of Islamic Conference) as they are in the Arab world today.
“As seen from the region, Turkey's strategy of diplomatic and economic engagement has been a welcome one. With its non-sectarian and pragmatic focus, Ankara offers the greatest economic incentives to find a political and sustainable as opposed to violent solutions to the problems of the Middle East today. On the whole, the Turks have been embraced by both the Arab states and street that welcome the pragmatic and business-savvy nature of Turkish diplomacy. As a gateway to both Europe and America, Turkey has already established itself an important player and convening spot for the actors of the region.
“With the fastest growing and largest economy in the Middle East, Turkey is uniquely placed to play a decisive role in providing alternatives models for the newly emerging governments of the region. As a longtime ally of the West and new partner of Iran and Syria, Turkey has been seeking the role of mediator and model in every available arena including Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia. As a G-20 founding member, holder of a seat on the UN Security Council, European Union aspirant, and head of the OIC, Ankara has transformed itself into an international actor, capable of bringing considerable clout and influence to its regions. Turkey did not transform itself from a defeated post-Ottoman state led by Ataturk's military to a flourishing market-democracy overnight, it has been almost a century in the making, however the lessons learned and the opportunities offered by Turkey to Egypt and the rest of the Arab world should be cautiously heeded. The Turks are poised to return as the Middle East's most important and influential kingmaker.”