However, after Sisi, that coalition has collapsed because a new option has emerged. Here, there were only two options: either Egypt would function as a democratic country or it would revert to authoritarian rule. But the first of these options threatened countries like Saudi Arabia. In the secular option, the autocrats would be returned to power. Although they might be religious in their social lives, their mode of governance would be purely secular.
Iran used this whole uncertain period in a very efficient way to exert influence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. But when the Sunnis who are the majority in those countries were excluded, not having any other options, they supported ISIS and other groups. Obama actually conceded to our president at a recent Nato summit that we were right on this. But it is too late now. We told them, if the Syrian regime is not stopped, moderate forces will lose, and that we had to give support to the Free Syrian Army. But since we did not support them sufficiently, Assad was able counter them, and Assad and ISIS formed an alliance against these moderate forces.
We should not forget that the democratic process that started in the Balkans began in , but in there was a war in Bosnia. So if you looked at the democratic process in the Balkans in , you would have said that Milosevic was surviving and the autocrats were returning to dominate the scene. But at the end of the day, they lost.
The Arab Spring started in and four years has not yet passed. I do not think that this process has finished in the Middle East. The difference between the Balkans and the Middle East is in the financing of democracy.
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In the Balkans, EU and Poland there was strong financial support, but in the Middle East there has been no external financing. For instance, when the Egyptian economy collapsed, Mohamed Morsi was expected to improve the economy within one year. But he was supposed to get the economic means to do so from where? There was no domestic accumulation of capital in Egypt, nor any assistance from outside, and there was no reform-oriented bureaucracy. Morsi came to government overnight, without any experience. In this combination of circumstances there was no chance for democracy to survive.
It has been criticised from various points of view, including that of the Kurds in Turkey. However, if ISIS goes, another radical organization may come in to fill the vacuum. This is why our strategy should be comprehensive and inclusive.
The geostrategic consequences of the Arab Spring
We should not just punish one terrorist organization, but eliminate all terrorist threats in the region, as well as eliminating for the future all the brutal crimes against humanity committed by the Assad regime. Taxation is important, but so also are social support mechanisms. In addition, there is the element of competition, and it is very important to get better competition in the economy. We seek to improve income distribution. Actually the UNDP is now in the process of making a study of Turkey to see how better competition has helped to raise the overall quality of competition.
Because when competition is not robust, there is a tendency to produce ultra-rich people very quickly. While when competition is working well, it is not often that this happens, because in every single sector there is rivalry. RF: The overarching question is to what degree the national economy is reconcilable with the global economy. If I have understood what you have said correctly, individual countries do have enough room for policy manoeuver to make this reconciliation possible.
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Many countries, the US for instance, are a very big failure in this sense: the rich have gotten much richer, the middle classes have suffered a relative decline, and the poor are poorer than ever. AB: We control our own economic policies, but we need to think more broadly as we will be chair of the G20 nations next year and we need to put more emphasis on global economic policy. We need to develop better links between the G20 and the less developed countries.
We are going to host the first humanitarian summit ever held. How can we introduce some humanitarian aspects into the G20 process? These are the issues that we are thinking about. In cooperation with Queen Maxima of Netherlands we are introducing a new financial item onto our G20 agenda. She has responsibilities for this; she is the Special Representative of Ban-ki Moon. She visited me last week, and we discussed these subjects. Determining how to have the G20 reach out beyond purely economic policy is very important for us.
RF: What about the agricultural policy? Do you have any specific comparisons of Turkey to other countries? It used to be that Turkey was an agricultural country, but I guess it is changing internally and globally.
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It has changed in the last 12 years. We used to be the eleventh ranked country in the world in agricultural GDP, but now we are seventh because as we grow, our agriculture also grows, although as a percentage of GDP it has decreased. The fact that we have passed through a period of hyper growth enabled us also to increase our agriculture. Bear in mind that when it comes to agriculture we are a closed economy, but when it comes to industry, we are a member of a customs union.
Agriculture is excluded from it to protect European farmers, since Turkish agricultural produce would be significantly cheaper than in most of Europe. A similar process is under way in the Pacific with TPP. The president also mentioned this to Obama. But we do not yet have a specific mechanism to link Turkey to these organizations and are looking for the best way. Food safety is something we are working on as part of the G20 agenda. We are also planning to have a meeting of agricultural ministries within the framework of G20, but we are not sure how to conduct this.
It has never been done before. RF : Is it true that Turkey is buying large tracts of land in Africa? We are going to be providing the finance and technology and Sudan will provide the land, and this is basically for agricultural development. It is not the land grabbing or exploiting China might go in for.
It is based on an equal partnership. AB: All the workers in the project will be Sudanese. One way of helping them may be giving cash, but another way is to offer them the possibility of using their lands productively. When I went to Sudan a few years ago and had a chat with the president we thought that this was the best way of helping Sudan. The arrangement then is best understood as a partnership. The opposite mind set operates in the Middle East. The Gulf could have financed a democracy in the region, but instead they have financed autocrats.
The Gulf states are surviving solely because of oil. Western democrats are no different from democracies anywhere, but the situation is different in the Middle East because of oil. For the survival of Saudi Arabia, there must not be a democratic regime in Egypt. And another issue is the security umbrella. Nato, for instance, provided a security umbrella in Bosnia and Serbia, but in the Middle East there was no security umbrella. As a result of this, the military in these countries is the only force able to restore peace and public order. And the military, as we discussed in relation to Turkey, prefers autocratic regimes to democratic governments.
RF: You spoke of the need to adapt to US economic policies in your speech to the parliament, but failed to make any reference to China throughout your comprehensive presentation. Yet China is expected to be the number one economy in the world before How does China figure in your vision of the world of the 'new Turkey'? As two ancient civilizations and developing countries, we have recorded considerable progress in our relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in Our relations are based on mutual trust and respect in many fields.
Reciprocal high-level visits in recent years have been instrumental in further enhancing, developing and diversifying our bilateral relations. China is our biggest trading partner in East Asia. Our trade and economic relations include large-scale infrastructure projects, energy, space industry, transportation and tourism. Our common vision with China for a safer and better transportation from and to Asia and Europe as well as the need for increased cultural exchanges and people-to-people contact led to the development of the Silk Road Projects. Given the economic characters of our two countries, we are determined to optimize our trade and investment potentials and maintain a sustainable and mutually beneficial trade relationship.
RF: A distinctive feature of your vision is the concept of a 'geo-civilizational worldview. How can this be actualized? We enjoy a shared history and culture with all the countries in our vicinity. Violence was not an element in the revolutionary imagination of the people. In this context, the monarchies of Morocco and Jordan introduced political and economic reforms, anticipating this popular discontent. If we take Egypt as an example, "the greatest rivalry could be emerging between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists transnational networks driven by Saudi Wahhabis",  with the total rejection by jihadist Salafism of democracy and its principles.
However, from the perspective of a Jihadist Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Al-Nahda Party in Tunisia, are a deviation from the straight path of Islam, its religious and socio-political thought. In Egypt, the Salafist movement remains strong. After years in prison, the Salafi jihadist groups continue to maintain strong links with Al-Qaeda and have obtained funding from the rich oil states.
A significant example of the proliferation of terrorism is in the Sinai region, where the absence of central authority, the general feeling of marginalization and discrimination, and the lack of integration plans and structuring among its population, has radicalized the population, leading to the securitization of territorial-based politics in the Sinai Peninsula. This affects relations between Egypt and Israel in a way that could destabilize the rest of the region. The Libyan civil war is considered another paradigm, in which the Libyan people rose in an armed conflict against the Gaddafi regime that masked the fragility of a middle class without any civil society or state institutions.
Libya is in a post-war scenario which nurtures two main threats. First, the emergence of radical Islamist groups, which both create instability and attempt to decentralize power away from state institutions, scattering it between different Islamist groups and the state. The second threat is the proliferation of arms trafficking, including the trafficking of advanced anti-aircraft rockets.
After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, military bases passed into the hands of rebel fighters and Libyan mercenaries during a civil war that swiftly created a geopolitical tension zone. These groups were able to extend their control and to form a black hole in the Sahel that causes instability and tensions among different international actors such as Mauritania and Morocco, Mali and Mauritania, Libya and Niger.
Their influence also extends to the West African region. Gaza and Sinai were the first recipients of all kinds of light and heavy weapons as a direct result. The weak structure of the Libyan state after the civil war and the failure to rebuild their institutions, especially in the security sector, produced a vacuum which materializes also in continuous clashes and fighting in the capital.
Therefore, the transformation to the new Libyan paradigm has created a weak state with fragile socio-political forces, which are opening the door to geopolitical chaos. The Syrian uprising began as a peaceful protest movement demanding political reforms and social justice and ended in a sectarian civil war, mainly instigated by the Assad regime using excessive force to suppress the popular uprising, which has spread throughout the country.
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The massive use of force by the government has led to the radicalization and militarization of the opposition. Syria has become a geopolitical scenario for regional and international powers like Lebanon and Iraq. However, the Syrian regime has shown its strength in trying to regain control of the country. Probably, this country is entering a lost decade, with the slow decline of the regime, accompanied by the militarization of the opposition, the disintegration of public order and security.
With thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, the wholesale destruction of industrial infrastructure and its historical patrimony, Syria is the main victim of this confrontation. It will take years to rebuild political and economic order and security. This rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran stems from a sectarian identity conflict arising from a time prior to Islam. The sectarian issue sets a parameter to this rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran, with tensions between Sunnis and Shiites that give shape to this competition.
Religion is a neurological issue for both states that grant political and religious legitimacy in Riyadh and Tehran. This legitimacy is necessary for the concentration of power, for internal hegemony and is configured as an argument for their regional hegemonic aspirations. These two countries Saudi Arabia and Iran, both face strong internal challenges from a population increasingly divided and depressed.
The other determining factor in this rivalry is geostrategy which is determined by sectarian agendas. The geopolitical dimension of the conflict crystallizes in the Iranian and Saudi regional security strategies. The first of these international actors is Iran, in favor of a centralized security approach in the Gulf, in contrast to Saudi Arabia who looks to external actors, particularly the United States, to guarantee its national and regional security.
This crossover in terms of national interest, plunges the entire region into a power game. Moreover, Iranian financial support to Shiite groups in Arab countries, increases tensions with Saudi Arabia, which in reply, encourages Iranian ethnic minorities to destabilize the Iranian regime.
The decomposition of the Iraqi regime as a regional power after the US invasion in , was received by Riyadh and Tehran as an opportunity to extend its hegemony over the Gulf. Previously, Saddam Hussein had played a balance of regional powers game, but his defeat created a vacuum of power that has triggered these movements in the regional dynamics for successive decades. Saudi Arabia and Iran both try to fill this gap by operating beyond their own borders. By contrast, the performance of Saudi Arabia in Iraq is more difficult to discern, often financing and supporting Iraqi Sunni groups.
Iran is losing its influence and soft power in the Levant region as a consequence of the Arab Spring on account of its support for the Syrian regime, although in Lebanon it still has a strong position. While Iran provided support for Hezbollah, when it made its appearance in the s, Saudi Arabia is reluctant to offer support to the group, with its Shiite beliefs and close ties to Iran. Tensions between Hezbollah and the Council of the Gulf Cooperation are increasing with the Syrian civil war, caused by the participation of Hezbollah in the conflict with the Syrian army, supporting Assad to repress and massacre the Sunni majority.
Saudi Arabia's position against the popular uprisings was shaped by their own geopolitical objectives: to isolate the kingdom from the winds of change, protect the survival of monarchical regimes and undermine Iran's power in the region. Saudi Arabia used its military power, political influence and financial generosity to contain the effects of the revolts in the Arabian Peninsula, especially in Bahrain, Yemen and Oman. Equally, Riyadh extended its financial assistance to strengthen Morocco and Jordan against popular reformist mobilization.
Both states abandoned their old pragmatic positions and proclaimed a new regional role after the Arab Spring. Qatar used its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the political and financial cooperation with Islamist parties that took power in some countries to strengthen its geopolitical position. In addition, its diplomacy was a key to pushing the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League to take some measures on the Syrian crisis.
Turkey also has emerged in this period as a power that creates balance between Arab countries, standing between Sunnis and Shiites. Turkey appears to have reached its limits. Ankara's power was clearly growing in the region before the Arab spring due largely to the foreign policy of 'zero problems'. The Gulf Cooperation Council was shaken by the uprising in Bahrain and agitated into action and assertiveness.
Bahrain is still an open wound and the most vulnerable part of the organization, but the Gulf Cooperation Council has demonstrated its military muscle and political ambitions with its intervention in Bahrain. The Council has reaffirmed its vocation to protect the monarchical status quo against the pro-democracy or pro-republics movements, rejecting any attempt by Iran to project its power in the zone. The rising ambitions of the Gulf Cooperation Council are reflected in the offer of membership to Jordan and Morocco, in order to promote a Sunni geostrategic alliance, mediating the transition in Yemen, supporting military intervention in Libya, and seeking greater unity within the Council.
Israel remains a source of geostrategic threat to Arab security in various different dimensions. It is the neighbour who possesses nuclear weapons, creating serious military imbalance between Israel and the Arab states. The apparent absence of Israeli will to resolve the Palestinian issue, by establishing an independent Palestinian state according to UN resolutions and implement the roadmap also creates instability. But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is losing some prominence in the actual geopolitics of a region confronted by all the other issues arising from the Arab Spring, issues that create greater concern among Arab states who appear much more focused on internal tremors and the national policies required to deal with them, than on this conflict.
The Middle East before the Arab uprisings seemed like a heterogeneous security system. These parameters were inherited from the colonial powers and the Cold War. The Arab revolutions untied the internal dynamics of protest and political change in most of the states of the region, affecting the whole political order. There are three fundamental geostrategic implications shaping the future of the balance of power in the Middle East. The first geostrategic consequence of the Arab Spring is the appearance of people as the main catalyst for these nations' internal dynamics.
The popular uprisings in the Arab world were caused by a combination of economic, political and social deficits. While there are similar conditions in several Arab countries, the responses of the regimes were dissimilar, creating different models of conflict. The third group of countries are countries with a government crackdown against the protesters or even a disintegration of the state Libya, Syria.
First, the monopoly of force has been questioned and weakened in several Arab countries, with increasing violence at sub-state level. The new governments or those who managed to stay in power cannot reconcile themselves with their highly mobilized societies, and have failed to reach a national consensus to calm the sociopolitical upheavals. They also cannot reform and rebuild their security apparatus and they cannot regain control over the peripheral zones within their sovereign territories, especially in the Sahel region, the Sinai Peninsula and South of Yemen.
The implications will have a great impact on the relations and power structure in the Middle East.