Best Defense

Listening to Turkey’s foreign minister: The Ottoman past looks like the future

By Daniel Kliman Best Defense chief Turkish affairs correspondent When Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations one night last week, Iran dominated his remarks. He was emphatically opposed to more robust sanctions, arguing that instead what is needed is "diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy." Davutoglu also suggested that a glimmer of ...

prince_volin/flickr
prince_volin/flickr

By Daniel Kliman
Best Defense chief Turkish affairs correspondent

When Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations one night last week, Iran dominated his remarks. He was emphatically opposed to more robust sanctions, arguing that instead what is needed is "diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy." Davutoglu also suggested that a glimmer of hope remains for negotiations with Iran, though he didn’t provide any details. In the past, Turkey has served as a mediator between Iran and countries concerned about its nuclear program. Davutoglu played up Turkey’s success in this role during his remarks. Could there be a Turkish initiative in the works? Stay tuned.

On Iraq, the FM was bullish. Calling Iraq a "mini-model of the Middle East," Davutoglu cast the recent elections there as a move away from sectarian politics. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

Earlier this month, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan hammered Israel, labeling it "the principal threat to peace in the region today." Davutoglu avoided such language.

Omission can be telling. Davutoglu was silent on Turkey’s prospects for EU membership. Combined with his ambitious vision for a transformed Middle East, it was clear that Turkey sees its destiny unfolding to the east and south, in lands once under Ottoman rule.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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