The stakes in the Middle East’s most critical election
They say this is the most important election in our political history, but this is not just the case for us: the whole world is eagerly awaiting the election on Sunday. Numerous articles have been published in the world media discussing the possible outcomes of this election, including in the Middle East, Arab, and Muslim countries' press. They closely follow and monitor the candidates, parties, and dynamics involved in the election in a surprising manner. Many social media accounts, some originating from Turkey and some from the Middle East, are engaged in intense debates.
Why is this the most critical election in the Middle East? During this government's tenure, Turkey has become deeply involved in the Middle East like never before. With its economic, military, political, and social relations, Turkey is now a stakeholder in almost every issue in the Middle East, and every Middle Eastern concern implicates Turkey.
With this election, Turkey will also determine the course of its domestic and foreign policies.
The current government's regional policies are already known. The question is whether these policies will be further strengthened and revised. If the opposition wins, it is important to consider whether there will be any changes in the policies that have caused significant trouble for us so far. Whether we like it or not, we are in a situation where the Middle East will profoundly affect us, and we will profoundly affect the Middle East.
Regardless of whether the current administration remains or is replaced, Turkey is heading towards a challenging period of transformation. It is well known that traditional Western allies in the Middle East are beginning to position themselves according to a new world balance. With this election, Turkey will determine its position against this new reality.
To summarize under a few headings:
FROM A WESTERN PERSPECTIVE
Despite the search for balance in recent years, Turkey still holds significance as the western bloc's last outpost extending towards the East. It continues to be one of the countries with which the West seeks cooperation in its Middle East policies. What would a possible change in government in Turkey bring in terms of the implementation of Western policies on the ground? For example, the current government is experiencing a serious tension with the US regarding the issue of Syrian Kurds.
If a new government comes to power, will it abandon the security-oriented state policy or continue the same tension with the US? On the other hand, will a potential new government act based on regional balances or follow policies aligned with the US/West? Will the period of détente between Syria and other regional countries also affect Turkey?
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD AND POLITICAL ISLAM
The Muslim Brotherhood model is in a state of significant decline, as is radical religious politics and political Islam. Middle Eastern countries are now inclined to rid themselves of this understanding. If a new government comes to power in Turkey, it will deliver another blow to the radical ideological model, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. We will witness the collapse of one of the last strongholds of the Brotherhood. Radical organizations will either have to find new shelters and spheres of activity, or face extinction. Hopefully, they will not choose Turkey as a new base. Unfortunately, such a danger exists.
From another perspective, voters in Turkey will also be casting their votes for democracy advocates in the Middle East. In other words, this election carries the significance of being one of the turning points in the centuries-long struggle between secular and theocratic-autocratic thinking.
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ARAB-ISLAMIC STATES
In summary, this election will shape Turkey's future within the Arab-Islamic world. We are part of this geography. The traditional "alignment with a single bloc" policy has lost its validity in global politics, and therefore, we are present everywhere in the world simultaneously. Naturally, we start with the Middle East.
The government's mistake was operating based on religious/ideological motives and placing them above pragmatic politics. They may have believed that Turkey's interests lie in this political approach, but it was proven otherwise in practice.
The Middle East is not the same as it used to be, and whether the government remains or is replaced, Turkey must determine its position accordingly. Otherwise, just like it missed the train it embarked on eleven years ago, it could miss it once again. That is why these elections are extremely critical.
* Musa Ozugurlu worked as an editor, reporter, and program presenter in the newsrooms of many radio and TV channels. In 2010, he worked as the Syria representative of TRT Turk. He is one of the few foreign journalists who documented the process on the ground that started in Syria in 2011 until 2016. His field of expertise is Syria, first and foremost, but also the Middle East. Currently, he presents the "Day Begins" program on ARTI TV every weekday between 08:00 - 11:00 AM.