Turkey overreached in Arab Spring, former FM says

Turkey made mistakes in its involvement in the Arab Spring “from day one”, Former Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış said.

Decision-makers in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mistakenly believed they could “go back to the Ottoman times” and expand Turkish power across the region, Yakış said at the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate, according to Arab News.

“Realities in the field showed that Turkey had limits, and it couldn’t achieve what it thought it could,” Yakış said.

Since then, Turkey has learnt that it had to adjust its policy to the realities, Yakış said, referring to its cooperation with Russia in Syria.

On Saudi Arabia, Yakış said he didn’t believe that Turkey was capable of making changes to the royal hierarchy in the country, in an apparent reference to its targeting of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in a probe of the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October.

“There’s an appreciation between the Turkish people and the Saudi people, and (President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan’s role isn’t indefinite. He won’t rule infinitely in Turkey,” Yakış said.

Omer Taşpınar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said “Turkey discovered after the so-called Arab Spring, especially in Syria, the limits of its power.

“There’s currently a mismatch between Turkey’s ambitions and its military, economic and diplomatic power, Taşpınar said.