Joshua Walker writes:
“Enough we say, the decision belongs to the people of the brotherly Egyptian and Tunisian nations… Turkey shares the grief of these nations as well as their hopes.” So-declared a self-confident Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday in his prime-time speech on recent events in the Middle East that received broad coverage regionally. While commentators point to the protests and revolutions in the Arab world as being the most recent example of the crumbling vestiges of the Cold War, the more significant long-term global trend is strangely familiar to the Turks. Protests in Tunisia have already overthrown the rule of a 23 year-old regime and inspired a similar uprising in the form of Egypt’s ongoing protest movement. Lebanon’s continuing instability and threats of Tunisian-inspired revolutions in Yemen and even Jordan further add to the significance of the moment we are witnessing in the Arab world.
The unprecedented levels and inter-linkages of the protests against the traditional authoritarian regimes represented most starkly by President Mubarak, has brought the Middle East back to a period more reminiscent of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Arab nationalism than anything seen in recent memory.
The declarations and prognostications of analysts across the Arab world in the wake of these events has focused on the grassroots movements and pent-up resentments that led to the protests along with debates about the level of US involvement from twitter feeds to President Obama’s statements. However the effect of this on the regional dynamics that has ushered in the remarkable arrival of a new player to the game of Middle Eastern great-power politics and the sidelining of traditional players is equally important to pay attention to.