Dear friends and colleagues,
My colleague Jonathan Spyer has published a short and accurate evaluation about the recent strategic shifts in the region which will undoubtedly impact on all the local actors but also beyond the Middle East.
You can see his paper at http://www.meforum.org/3795/shifting-mideast-sands-reveal-new-alliances
Sorry for duplicates.
I agree to all of his observations but I would like to add three important points:
Turkey was considered at the beginning of the uprising in the Arab world as "the role model" for the democratization of the Middle East and the most serious contender for the leadership of the Sunni world.
It appears that the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's and his AKP government strategy, tinted by a Neo-Ottoman flavor, has failed on all fronts.
Not only the strategy of "zero problems with [Turkey's] neighbors" has finished in serious troubles with all of them but the involvement in the Syrian conflict threatens the internal cohesion of the nation.
The internal woes of Erdogan and his party, as epitomized by the June 2013 Gezi Park anti-government protests, the investigation of the corruption at the highest officials level and the destructive conflict with the former Islamist ally Fethullah Gülen's Hizmet movement, have led him to even more authoritarian measures and a public behavior that prompted the Turkish Medical Association (TBB) to publish this Sunday a statement expressing its worry "about the emotional well-being of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan," described by the group as using “polarizing, excluding and 'otherifying' language” against certain groups of people.
It remains to be seen if the forthcoming March 30 municipal elections in Turkey could sign a turn in Erdogan's and AKP's fortunes.
The Kurds represent a new force in the region which could change the delicate regional balance of power. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq is the center of gravity of a new economically striving subsystem functioning as a quasi-state and as a political center for the other three parts of Kurdistan. For many Kurds the KRG also provides safe haven from persecution and hardship in their own countries, mainly Syria. The KRG has been providing bases for the Kurdish guerrilla of the PKK from Turkey, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) and other groupings from Iran, as well as an umbrella organization from Syria (See "The Kurdish Question: The Elephant in the Room" by Ofra Bengio)
In Syria, The Democratic Union Party (PYD), strongest Kurdish party affiliated with the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia formed three autonomous cantons in the provinces of Hassakeh, Afrin and Kobane.
In Turkey. the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leaders make frequent references to an independent Kurdistan and claim they will declare democratic autonomy after the March 30 municipal elections. Kurdish leaders say that they will unite the Kurdish areas in Iran, Iraq and Syria and eliminate the borders.
Balkanization: Besides and inside the major Sunni – Shia conflict there are several other important sectarian conflicts which do not bode well for the unity of the countries involved, mainly Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Possibly the only solution to these conflicts will follow the Yugoslavian model.
Ely Karmon, PhD
Senior Research Scholar
International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and
The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at
The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC(
Fax.: 972-9-9513073, 972-9-7716653