Turkey enjoys a privileged geographical position, at crossroads between South-East Asia, Europe and the Middle East, which she has been able over the past decade to translate into geopolitical advantages1. In regards to her economy, Turkey is the world’s seventeenth largest economy, Europe’s sixth largest economy2, and from 2005 to 2008 she doubled her trade exchange with her eight nearest geographical neighbors, which encompasses countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Georgia3. Turkey is also growing as an energetic corridor, with the Baku-Ceyhan gas pipeline and the oil pipelines from Iraq and Iran, in addition to becoming an exporter of water to other regional states, such as Libya4. Moreover, Turkish tourism is booming and the number of Arab and Persian tourists to Turkey has multiplied over the past few years, while Arab television channel are buying in large number Turkish television series, which are very popular among Arab viewers5.

In regards to military capabilities, as commonly known Turkey has the second largest army in NATO6. However, what is less known is Turkey current military upgrade, such as already having the second largest inventory of F-16 fighters in the world and the recent acquisition of modern frigates and submarines to update its Navy traditionally viewed as poor7. Moreover, Turkey has been developing domestic military building capabilities that make her independent from foreign suppliers8, such as the United States or Israel.

Besides, Turkey started playing an instrumental role in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, by mediating direct talks between Syria and Israel, diffusing tensions between Lebanon and Israel and holding talks with Saudi-Arabia on the matter.

Turkish military recent upgrade trend, combined with strong economic ties to the Middle East region and her active participation in the Israel-Palestinian conflict clearly indicate a desire to become a regional hegemon.

1. Chubin S. “Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions” Carnegie Endowment, Washington DC, 2006, P.15
2. Ahmet Davutoglu “Turkish Foreign Policy and the EU in 2010” Turkish Policy Quarterly, Fall 2009, p.15
3. Yigal Schleifer “The Ottoman Revival” Foreign Policy May – June 2009
4. Edward J. Erickson “Turkey as Regional Hegemon – 2014: Strategic Implications for the United States” Turkish Studies, Vol.5, No.3 Autumn 2004, p.37
5. Sahin Alpay “Turkey’s EU membership and the Muslim world” Turkish Weekly 5 March 2007 24
6. (Erickson , 2004, p.34)

Photo attributed to:Jorge Láscar

Written by Linda Bouzembrak