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Turkey’s Tayyip Recep Erdogan

As Turkey increasingly shows signs of uninterest in joining the European Union, Ankara is looking to regain its historic ties in Central Asia with the idea of resurrecting the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Regional analysts say Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan seeks to re-establish Turkey’s historical influence in the Turkic countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan by perpetuating a peacekeeping role.

As pointed out in G2B’s June 29 article “Turkey losing interest in EU,” Turkey’s apparent foreign-policy shift may be due in part to a new generation of advisers surrounding Erdogan. Turkey’s new foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, for example, is one such influential adviser who has outlined what he calls a “multidimensional policy” contrary to what has been practiced.

Previous Turkish leadership has been more Western-leaning, focusing entirely on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Europe and the United States.

In addition, Erdogan is pursuing closer relations with Syria and Iran. Erdogan had hosted indirect discussions between Israel and Syria after an eight-year breakdown. However, he stormed out of the conference after confronting Israel President Shimon Peres over Palestinian civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip. International human-rights groups say that more than 900 civilians were killed in the Israeli offensive last January, although Israel disputes that number.

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Similarly, Turkey and Iran have major cooperative efforts under way, ranging from deepening economic and military ties and fighting terrorism and drug trafficking to promoting stability in Central Asia and Iraq.

Erdogan’s ambitions are similar to those of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent who wants to bring all the countries of the former Soviet Union back under the strong influence of modern Russia.

Erdogan’s apparent shift from West to East was seen earlier this month in Turkey’s engagement in military exercises with Syria. At the same time, Turkey announced that it was cutting Israel out of the annual military exercises with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Called Anatolian Eagle, the air-defense exercise was to include Israel, as it has done over the past six years.

Security sources say the initial reason for excluding Israel was due to Israel’s failure to deliver the Israeli-made surveillance drones known as Herons. Turkey had ordered some 10 drones, which are manufactured by the Israeli company Elbit. Israel countered by saying the delay was due to Turkey’s insistence on including a Turkish component in the drone.

Then the real reason for the Turkish treatment toward Israel became apparent. Erdogan and Davutoglu acknowledged that the decision to cut out Israel from participating in Anatolian Eagle was to protest what they described as Israel’s indiscriminate use of force against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip earlier this year. The multinational annual exercise ultimately was canceled altogether.

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