Turkey’s Role in the ‘Arab Spring’

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Yesterday Mideast Reports caught up with Professor Quinn Mecham at Middlebury College to discuss Turkey’s role in the Arab Spring. The popular uprisings across the region “finally arrived on Turkey’s doorstep”, as one TIME writer put it, when demonstrations erupted across Syria.

Mecham is an assistant professor of political science at Middlebury College. In 2009-2010 he served as a Franklin Fellow at the State Department. He worked on the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff, with responsibility for the Arab Gulf, political Islam and global religious affairs.

He teaches courses on comparative politics, politics and civil conflict in the Middle East and Africa, and political Islam. His current research focuses on Islamist political movements and Muslim political parties. His most recent article entitled, Erbakan’s Unintended Legacy appeared in Foreign Policy last month.

Turkey has vital political, economic and geopolitical interests around the Middle East, particularly in Libya and Syria, both of which currently awash in turmoil and violence. They could stand to loose influence in the region.

Not surprisingly, Turkey is reacting very cautiously as events unfold, but the realities are getting harder to ignore. 250 Syrians have already fled to Turkey, with more likely on the way.

If Turkey takes a stronger stance, they could significantly aid western efforts to sanction Syria.

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