Turkey and the Middle East

Debate - 

During this second edition of ‘Exchanges on the Middle East’ we explore the background of Turkey’s national, regional and international political strategies. In recent years, which were marked by conflicts and instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Turkey has sought to deepen its influence and power in the region. What doest this mean for the developments in the MENA region and for the relation between Turkey and Europe? 

In the decades following World War II Turkey focused primarily on its relations with Europe, while following a non-intervention policy with respect to the turmoils in the Middle East. After 2007, President Erdoğan’s Turkey gradually appeared to loosen its focus on Europe and attempted to increase its influence in the MENA region. Turkey’s role in the MENA region is challenged by other regional powers such as Iran, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as by the increasing international standing of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

Together with international Turkey experts we discuss the influence of Turkey’s policy on the current and future developments in the region. How can Turkey’s policy changes be interpreted and positioned? How do the MENA countries respond to Turkey’s changing political focus? To what extent are the Kurds challenging Turkey’s position in the region?

About the speakers

  • Historian Soner Çağaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. He has written extensively on U.S.-Turkish relations, Turkish domestic politics, and Turkish nationalism, publishing in scholarly journals and major international print media, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times. He has been a regular columnist for Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey’s oldest and most influential English-language paper, and he appears regularly on Fox News, CNN, NPR, Voice of America, BBC, and CNN-Turk. Dr. Cagaptay is the recipient of numerous honors, grants, and chairs, among them the Smith-Richardson, Mellon, Rice, and Leylan fellowships, as well as the Ertegun chair at Princeton.
  • Journalist Amberin Zaman is a Turkish journalist and researcher who has covered Turkey, the Kurds and regional conflicts for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Telegraph of London. Between 1999 and 2016 Amberin Zaman was the Turkey correspondent for The EconomistSince 2016 she has been based in Washington DC where she writes a regular column for the online news portal Al Monitor and the independent Turkish news portal Diken.
  • Moderator is Erik-Jan Zürcher, Professor of Turkish Studies at the University of Leiden. Author of seminal books on the modern history of Turkey, amongst which his authoritative handbook Turkey. A modern history (newest edition I.B. Tauris 2017). His prime research interest focusses on the period of transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey (roughly: 1880-1950) and on the role of the Young Turk generation/movement in this process.

About Exchanges on the Middle East

Exchanges on the Middle East is a collaboration between the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs North Africa and Middle East Department.

Stay updated and join the conversation at our Facebook event.