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The Middle East is a candidate region to be a power center in the 21st century, hosting deep contrasts,...


The Middle East is a candidate region to be a power center in the 21st century, hosting deep contrasts, opportunities and threats. If these contrasts could be managed well, the success would be more possible. However, if these contrasts and differences would be manipulated through meaningless competitions between foreign and regional actors, the region could face unexpected results. In my opinion, Turkey and the Middle Eastern countries should address to more pragmatic and deeper areas, within the main understanding which we describe as "Proportional risk, interdependence", rather than emotional ones.  Indeed, if we can understand the developments both in the world and our region, we, as friends and brother countries, can grow stronger and it will be possible for us to transform developments in our region into opportunities.

Key Words: Multipolarity, integration, micro nationalism, multi dimensional security, identity policies, human resources


Historical Background

Turning Arab Revolutions into a spring can only be possible by putting 'today' in a right place between the past and the future. The actors in the region have been changing but unvarying power balance and interest relations have been going on. The region which we have to call "Middle East" seems to be experiencing a new repetition of historical ebb and flows. In this region, Islamic progress caused attacks of two big powers into the region with an interval of a few centuries. At the end of 11th century, Crusader armies, inflamed with the call of Byzantium, attacked the region from West and created problems, bloodshed, instability and unrest. Afterwards, with the Mongolian attack in the 13th century, a new instability and destruction reached to the region from the East.

The geography, damaged by the Crusader invasions, experienced a new unrest by the Mongolian invasions from another direction when it was thought that all these attacks had ended. During these events, Christians like Armenians in the region became closer to these invaders within their own historical approaches.

Assassins, which was ostensibly a religious but in fact a terror centered organization, did not refrain to establish connections with different groups. Sometimes they hanged together with Crusaders and the other time took a stand against them. Like any power that cannot establish its own power center and is not accepted by the people of its own region, these structures that were playing balancing games attempted to establish black alliances here and there against the regional powers that curbed their authority. Meanwhile, regional countermoves which were initiated by the regional powers like the Ayyubis stopped these attacks and sometimes repelled and dealt a huge and final blow to the Mongolian and Crusader presence. Thus, the region was rescued from being excluded from the history and losing its distinctness and, therefore, was able to survive with its own identity. In the modern era, new power centers and new balances of power have been formed upon the basis of political, economic and technological changes at the regional and global levels.

If we are to transfer this assessment about the past to the actual, we could say that the region is pushed out of history and  could not show any existence because of the threats coming from the West and the East in the periods called modern times. British power, gaining new capitalist and imperialist aspect thank to the Industrial Revolution, had brought the region under control, heralding the concept of the “West” in the early 19th century through carrying out plans about and beyond the region. The UK, which went just ahead of France and gained a strong position in the Region found a chance to move faster and forged ahead.

Accordingly, the friendship and hostility in "the Middle East" are not as new and volatile as they are widely taken. The separatist elements in the Region are like reflections of the alliances emerged during Crusader invasions and bitter events experienced with the Mongolian invasions. It should not be surprising to see very old faces and old plans when we look at the backstage of the current struggles at actors’ level to change power balance today.  If it is asked "How does today possibly differ from yesterday?” the answer will be very simple: the super states of the Region are nonexistent today. In the past, while there were powers that could intervene in the events of the Region with its own identity, economy and assets, today we face a political scene where intervening in the regional events is possible only through alliances with outsiders. As long as historical potential and weakness of a region were not well-evaluated and historical and cultural codes are neglected, policies built on current developments are doomed to get a final blow from the deep historical ties and roots.

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Africa 65 135
Asia 75 207
Europe 13 28
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Islamic World 51 143
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