A rising power with a vibrant, free economy and a U.S. ally that aspires to join the European Union, Turkey is held up as an example of marrying Islam and democracy and has been an oasis of stability in a region convulsed by "Arab Spring" uprisings.

June 8, 2011

The AKP argued that establishing ties with the Muslim populations around Turkey would endow Ankara with soft power. But the plan had a flaw: In undemocratic states like Syria and Libya, Ankara was not expanding its relationships with the people, but with brutal leaders such as Bashar al-Assad and Muammar al-Qaddafi.

...A growing number of historic buildings in Central Asia, the Balkans, Europe, the Middle East and Africa have been restored and renovated. Turkey has also been carrying out a broad initiative in a large number of different countries in the fields of education, cultural cooperation, energy, commerce, transportation, health, housing and administrative issues as well.

TİKA is widely considered a key public diplomacy instrument for Turkey, with the agency website defining development assistance as “a significant instrument that allows new avenues for classical diplomacy in economic, social, cultural and humanitarian fields.”

Opponents of the Syrian regime gathered on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast on Tuesday for a conference aimed at overcoming their differences and bolstering protesters who have endured a bloody crackdown under President Bashar Assad. The meeting has drawn Syrian exiles living in the West and the Middle East, as well as some activists from inside Syria.

Obama's Middle East speech last week laid out a policy of support for the growth of democracy and peace in the area... to support self-determination, equal opportunity, democracy, political and civil rights and religious tolerance.. It is not obvious that the Turkish government could make the same declarations.

Indeed, the Arab Spring strengthens rather than weakens Turkey's position in the Arab world and vindicates the new strategic thrust of Turkish foreign policy.

A multitude of visa-free travel agreements has resulted in enhanced Turkish influence at a societal level, with Turkish pop music and television now widely transmitted throughout the Middle East. Turkey has embraced its neighbours, and they have responded in kind, resulting in growing Turkish influence in Middle Eastern affairs.