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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Dec 2, 2010

Turkey: New Political Strategy

Turkish Prime Minister Mr. R.T. Erdogan’s recent trip to Lebanon is a reflection on the new role that Turkey is playing in the Middle East region. During his official visit, Prime Minister Erdogan emphasized the strong relationship that Turkey has begun to develop with Arab countries during the past few years. He extended Turkish help and support to the Lebanese people and condemned Israeli aggression against Lebanon. The Prime Minister urged the Lebanese people to overcome their differences, especially in regard to the investigation of the international court of justice of the assassination of the late Prime Minister Al-Hariri. He also commended Syria and Saudi Arabia’s role in maintaining peace and stability in Lebanon.

Mr. Erdogan urged the Lebanese people to unite against the continuous Israeli aggression, which led to the deaths of women and children. He continued to urge the Lebanese to keep the freedom of religion, in order to maintain the strength and stability of their society. Mr. Erdogan’s visit to Lebanon was not received positively in Western societies in general and the U.S. in particular, due to the recent Turkish emergence politically and economically in the Middle East.

Recently, Turkey and Syria lifted border restrictions between the two countries. Citizens on both sides can cross borders without visas or other restrictions and this has increased the movement of people in both directions. The new agreement has enhanced and increased trades and other economic activities, which is beneficial to both Turkey and Syria.

Furthermore, the new Turkish policy reflects a new political strategy: to strengthen its ties to Arab and Muslim states in the region. This new policy of removing border restrictions has been extended to Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. Also, Turkey is proposing the creation of a free trade zone with other Muslim states in the region.

This new political trend on the part of Turkey towards its Arab and Muslim neighbors in the Middle East is influenced by the European Common Market members’ refusal to admit Turkey in to their club.

However, I commend Prime Minister Erdogan for his innovative strategy and hope Arab political leaders learn from the Turkish new departure and have the courage to initiate a similar strategy.

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