From Soner Cagaptay, the Wall Street Journal: For the AKP, "Turkey’s traditionally strong ties with the West represent a process of alienation." This is a quote from "Strategic Depth," the opus written by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister. Unfortunately, "Strategic Depth" has not been translated into English, though Westerner would do well to read it to get a better understanding of Ankara’s thinking. The work’s executive summary answers all questions about the AKP’s foreign policy: "Since the end of the Ottoman Empire, Muslims have gotten the short end of the stick, and the AKP is here to correct all that. …"
There is little the West can do to change the AKP’s foreign policy outlook. In fact, some policymakers and pundits in Washington and European capitals have, perhaps unwittingly, helped empower this development in the first place. Believing that the supposedly reformed Islamist AKP could be a bridge-builder between Western and Muslim countries, they promoted the new Turkish government as a special mediator in the region while shielding it from those critics who worried early on about the AKP’s worldview.
Allowing such an Islamist catalyst into the Middle East’s conflicts produced devastating results. Because the AKP sees a clash of civilizations everywhere it looks, it cannot be an impartial mediator. Hence, when the AKP was allowed to interject itself between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, or the United States and Iran, it quickly became a tribune for the Islamist side, rising in their defense. After eight years of increasingly authoritarian and dominant AKP rule at home, many Turks now also see the world through the Islamists’ eyes of a civilizational clash. …
The West needs to face the reality that, despite the country’s NATO membership, Turkey can no longer be considered a Western ally under the AKP. In order to contain the AKP’s Islamists influence not just in Turkey but also in the region, the West must deny the Erdogan government the influence and prestige that comes with being promoted as a regional mediator. It’s time for Western leaders to distance themselves somewhat from Ankara.
Mr. Cagaptay, a senior fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is the author of "Islam, Secularism and Nationalism in Modern Turkey: Who is a Turk?" (Routledge, 2006). (photo: Reuters)