Destinations Magazine

Turkey’s Foreign Policy: Nasty Neighbourhood

By Stizzard

ON A sunny October day in 2009 Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, beamed with pride as he inaugurated his country’s consulate in Mosul, an Iraqi city that was once part of the Ottoman empire. “We see you as a part of ourselves; I am your minister,” Mr Davutoglu declared. His words provided an early clue to his neo-Ottoman dreams of Turkey leading a Sunni Muslim arc spanning the Balkans, Central Asia and the Middle East.Five years on the Turkish consulate serves as the headquarters of the Islamic State (IS), an extremist group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). This fearsomely brutal group raided the building on June 10th, taking all 49 of the consulate’s Turkish staff hostage, including the consul-general, along with two toddlers. Hopes that they would be freed in time for Eid al-Fitr, the start of a holiday marking the end of the Ramadan fast, proved empty. The jihadists are said to be using the Turks as human shields against possible Western military intervention in Iraq. Mosul’s exiled governor, Atheel Al-Nujaifi, whose calls for the Turks to evacuate the consulate fell on deaf ears, says IS is unlikely to let go of them any time soon.The Mosul debacle illustrates Turkey’s declining fortunes in the region. Until recently Turkey, a NATO member that is in membership talks with the EU, was hailed as a shining example of a Muslim…

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