- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
Stand back and watch John McCreary analyze a minor news event and detect the deep historical trends underlying it:
Turkey-Saudi Arabia: On 9 March, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan received the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Saudi Arabia, according to Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency today.
The King Faisal International Prize is presented to scientists and others who make contributions to Islam and a positive difference in the world. At the award ceremony, Erdogan said Turkey has strived to establish peace, stability and security in the region and the world.
Comment: To recap the action, the Saudis gave the supposed leader of a secular state — Turkey — an award for his service to Islam. That would seem to clinch the argument in Turkey’s constitutional court about Erdogan’s service to Turkey’s secular constitution and history. The Saudis openly encouraged Erdogan’s erosion of the legacy of Ataturk.
STRATFOR’s thesis is the Saudis are looking to Turkey to act as an ally in restraining Iranian pretensions to regional hegemony. The Turks have their own leadership aspirations which involve pursuing a neo-Ottoman strategy that joins Sunnis and Shias under enlightened, of course, Turkish leadership.
Even if the Turks do not cooperate much with the Saudis, the Turkish-Persian rivalry for regional dominance is rooted in thousands of years of history. The Arabs are clever enough to revive that old dispute while sitting on the sidelines. Erdogan and the Iranian Ayatollahs are arrogant enough to fall for the bait.
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| The List |