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“A new Middle East is emerging” cautions former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer

Joschka Fischer speakerWriting for Project Syndicate, Joschka Fischer, a vitally important European political figurehead and thinker, asserts that a new Middle East is emerging in which the Kurds and Iran are gaining regional influence, whilst Sunni powers are declining.

What is becoming apparent, Joschka notes, is the collapse of the region’s old order, and with it the decline of the region’s traditional stabilising powers. He explains that the “political weakness of those powers – whether global actors like the United States or regional players like Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia – has led to a remarkable role reversal in the region’s power dynamic.” Joschka goes on to say that “although the US and the European Union still classify the pro-independence Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization, only the PKK’s fighters, it seems, are willing and able to stop the Islamic State’s further advance.”

As a result of their newly won legitimacy, the Kurds’ fate has become a burning question in Turkey. Joschka comments that the West is presented with a dilemma: “Given its reluctance to commit its own ground forces to a war it knows it must win, it will have to arm the Kurds.” However, this will not sit well with NATO member Turkey – or, most likely, with Iran. Consequently, Joshka warns that the “key strategic question…will not be resolved on the region’s battlefields, but in the various negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.”

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Expert Reactions: Chris Parry on Egypt – “ripple effect on Turkey?”

As we wait to hear on the shape and make-up of Egypt’s ‘transition government’ we spoke to strategic forecaster, author & commentator Rear Admiral Christopher J. Parry about the effect the takeover will have both within Egypt and in the wider middle east.

The Army takeover of the government in Egypt has put the developed, western world in a difficult position. It must be difficult for political theorists and liberal to confront the sad truth that democracy, in this case, has had to be saved from itself.

What Mohammed Morsi failed to recognize is that democratic transition involves delivery on issues that bear significantly on popular expectations. There was an assumption in Egypt, as with any other country moving from authoritarian rule to democracy that democracy brings prosperity. Experience shows that prosperity follows democracy, accountability and market reforms.

The difficult question for the Army and all those who wish Egypt well is what happens if Egyptians in the next presidential elections vote for another Muslim Brotherhood government?

The obvious question with regard to events in Egypt is – what will be the ripple effect on Turkey? The Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has conducted a sustained personal, judicial and institutional attack on the armed forces over the past 10 years to ensure that it no longer has the power to intervene in politics. About 20 per cent of previous senior officers are imprisoned after being convicted of complicity in nebulous coup plots. One suspects that, as long as Turkey’s economy continues to grow, Erdogan will be able to contain the frustrations of those (just under 50 per cent) who did not – and do not – support him. However, the Army still maintains a constitutional right – and the accepted moral responsibility – to preserve the Ataturk heritage and the pre-eminence of secularism.

 

 

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