The Arab Spring that brought on some dramatic changes in the Arab countries had begun as a nice story. After decades of suffering under dictatorships, people rebelled - demanding better lives, more accountable administrations and stronger economies. For all democratic-minded people in the world, the Arab Spring had been a sincere revolution that rapidly became a true hope for an enlightened future. Everybody was aware of the fact that such popular demand for democracy would initiate an irreversible journey, and that "the die is cast."
Edited by Mehmet Akif Kirişçi and written by Turkish and foreign academics, "The Arab Spring and Debates over the Turkish Model" (2014) claimed that Turkey's political, economic and cultural growth until 2011 was one of the main triggers of the Arab Spring.
Turkey has appeared as a pro-democratic Muslim country, which was governed by pious politicians, protecting the freedom of thought and religion, and steadily growing in economic terms. From Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, or Saudi Arabia's point of view, Turkey has definitely emerged as a role model.
In retrospective, only Tunisia has succeeded in following Turkey's footsteps. It is obviously not a coincidence, as Rached Ghannouchi is an invaluable philosopher and politician, not just for Tunisia, but for the whole Islamic world.
Despite numerous plots and incitements, Tunisia has achieved to draw up a new constitution and hold democratic elections. During this long period of democratic consolidation, I had the chance of meeting Ghannouchi. In our conversation about the Arab Spring, we discussed the political deadlocks that the Islamic countries have faced in the international arena.
At first glance, the Arab Spring appeared like a movie, astonishingly watched by the Western colonial powers. As Muslims rebelled against long-standing dictators, people on social media rallied behind them. On Twitter, everybody had begun to follow the leaders of the Tahrir resistance. But it is odd that when the coup happened in Egypt, el-Sissi supporters came to the fore on social media.
In fact, once the Arab Spring erupted, leading Western powers decided to tackle not just the countries that were immediately influenced by the process, i.e. Egypt, Libya, Bahrein, Tunisia, and Syria, but also Turkey as the main inspiration behind the wind of change in the Arab countries.
During the massive protests in Tahrir Square, a video showing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan picking up the Turkish flag from the ground became very popular. In a similar vein, one of Erdogan's speeches in support of the Tahrir protests caused great excitements in Egypt and elsewhere. Therefore, the leading Western powers have been interested not only in the Arab countries but also in Turkey as the main inspiration for the Arab Spring.
Turkey has undoubtedly been a significant player in the international arena. With its inheritance of a wealthy Ottoman and Islamic legacy as well as in terms of politics, economy and culture, Turkey's influence over the Middle East and beyond has always been indisputable. Its work
ing democratic system, its willingness to become a member of the European Union, and its capacity to become a global player perturbed the leading Western powers and most notably the U.S. They were anxious about Turkey inspiring the other Islamic nations.
Through their spy organization, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), they targeted Turkey and the Syrian civil war presented a golden opportunity to weaken it further.
Egypt is governed by coup plotters. Libya has been divided into two. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries are bribing the U.S. in fear of Iranian aggression. Iran is struggling against the American sanctions. Turkey is also facing a series of financial attacks.
Thus, the Arab Spring reshaped the region, permanently changing the balance of power and pushed prominent actors into reviewing their policies.