During the last 30 years, our region has undergone a dramatic transformation. To begin with, the oil crises of the 1970s concluded with an immense wealth in the developing economies of Arab countries, which acquired as much growth rate as the developed countries. This is the case especially for Saudi Arabia, which accumulated astonishing revenue from their export of oil.
After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, a prolonged war occurred between Iran and Iraq. While Saddam Hussein declared that Iraq was fighting against Iran's export of revolution for the interests of all Arabic countries, the Gulf countries in general and Saudi Arabia, in particular, provided military aid to Iraq. In a decade, the Saudis spent $600 billion to provide military aid, from the United States, to the Iraqi army. In fact, the expenditure of all Gulf countries to support Iraq against Iran aggregated $1 trillion.
Despite the fact that the devastating war between Iran and Iraq lasted 10 years, the accumulated capital in the hands of the Gulf countries was still immense. During this period, Kuwait was one of the most popular countries of the world with a valuable currency. As the war between Iran and Iraq ended, Saddam Hussein's immense and well-equipped army had become a threat to the Western powers, including Israel.
When Iraq occupied Kuwait, the U.S. exploited the opportunity not only to destroy the Iraqi army and eliminate the threat it posed against the security of Israel, but also to seize the oil revenue of the Saudis.
The U.S. administration succeeded in convincing the Saudis on the immediate threat that Iraq posed against Saudi Arabia. In exchange for $500 billion by the Saudis, the U.S. initiated the first Gulf War against Iraq. After less than 10 years, the U.S. waged the second Gulf War which concluded with the occupation of Iraq. When American President George W. Bush demanded reparations from the Gulf countries, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi who rejected to pay was reduced to silence.
In 2011, a series of popular revolts occurred in the Arab world, known as the Arab Spring. Arab youth took to the streets by taking Turkish democracy as a role model. From Tunisia and Egypt, Turkey appeared as follows:
The Turkish government constituted of a conservative and democratic political party which secured wide popular support. The Turkish people were enjoying a high degree of democracy thanks to which their freedom of thought and faith was guaranteed.
Political and social stability was accompanied by steady economic growth.
However, the Arab Spring rapidly turned into a winter. Especially in Syria, the struggle between the Syrian regime and the opposition groups transformed into a full-fledged civil war. During the initial phases of the Syrian crisis, Turkey was abandoned by its ally, the U.S.
In a short span of time, Turkey had become the main target for three terrorist organizations – Daesh, the PKK, and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Daesh realized a series of appalling terrorist attacks in Turkey.
Motivated by the U.S. and Israel, the PKK abandoned the peace process and aspired to seize pieces of land from Turkey.
After a failed judicial coup, FETÖ attempted, on July 15, 2016, to occupy the country in the name of foreign powers.
Yet, Turkey succeeded to eliminate all these threats one by one. Daesh was almost totally annihilated in Syria via Operation Euphrates Shield. The PKK was eliminated from the region of Afrin via Operation Olive Branch. Finally, FETÖ's attempted coup failed thanks to the resistance of the ordinary people and their unyielding support for the elected government.
In conclusion, all these regional issues not only proved Turkey's potential to become a regional power, but also strengthened its position in the region as a key player.
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