This study captures the regional dynamics of one of the most eventful periods in the history of the modern Middle East—the first decade of the 21st
The first half of the book examines the sea change within Turkey itself under its first Islamic-rooted government that altered the face of the country in political, military, economic, social, religious, and even cultural terms. I argue that these changes in Turkey are essentially irreversible, regardless of who comes to power there in the future. In the process Turkey reconceived the very basis of its foreign policy in what can be described as the “return of history” in Turkey’s expanded new role into the Middle East, Asia and even Africa. Ankara altered conventional western views of what “realism” in foreign policy can mean—in a region where the West has shown little “realism” or even much grasp of reality in its understanding of events. Turkish and American interests are now more accurately described as “fundamentally incompatible.”
Ankara is now viewed with new eyes across the region as well—generally admired by the public, disliked or feared by entrenched autocratic regimes. What elements of all this Turkish experience bear relevance to Middle Eastern governance and the idea of leadership?
The second part of the book looks at the once largely frozen political scene in the Arab world broken open by the Arab Spring–now more polarized than ever in an essentially unsustainable geopolitical paralysis. What are the international ideological struggles behind the main revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria? And what are the complex dynamics of Turkey’s first decade as an active player in these same events as it struggled to adapt its ambitious new foreign policy vision? And yet eventually Ankara too became caught up in the shifting tides of the Arab Spring and became mired in the morass of the conflict in Syria—like all other regional and global players.
I grapple with what constitutes leadership in the Muslim world: the concept of leadership over the centuries, and the Islamic foundation of that concept, based in part on the central role of the Caliphate. While the Caliphate as an institution is now likely part of history, its power as a symbol of Muslim unity has not vanished; few future popular regimes in the Middle East will be able to ignore the centrality of some kind of sense of Muslim solidarity, even if honored in the breach.
The book examines the character of both Sunni and Shi’ite revolutions as they affect the major states of the region, and in particular the symbolic power of the Muslim Brotherhood—far from a spent force. Rather than adopting the cliché of a “clash between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam,” or “secularism vs Islamism” that characterize much mainstream analysis, I posit that the emerging central ideological polarity of the Muslim world in the new era is between democratic versus autocratic forms of Islamic governance—polarities represented by Turkey and Saudi Arabia in their starkly differing visions of Islam in governance.
The book finally seeks to discern future social, ideological, and psychological foundations for change in the region in the next decade, which will include a new role for Iran, and the reemergence of a political Left—in both its secular and Islamic forms.
Graham Fuller is a former high-ranking CIA official who spent over four decades living, working and traveling in the Muslim world. He speaks numerous languages—including Russian, Turkish, Arabic and Chinese—and is widely recognized as an insightful, provocative, and original thinker on the political culture of the Muslim world and global politics. He has published over a dozen books and studies on Middle East and Islamic politics. In this volume the author breaks with conventional US-centric analysis of the region to capture the deeper political and human forces that reflect the Middle East’s own history and culture. This is a clear and lucid analysis of a troubled region, offering unconventional conclusions; it represents an important rethink of the fundamental political, social and ideological forces at work in the region.
PART ONE — GLOBAL GEOPOLITICAL SHIFT
One: The Awakening of a New Middle East
Two: Global Shift of Power
PART TWO — LEADERSHIP IN THE MUSLIM WORLD – WHAT IS IT?
Three: Caliphate and Unity: Ottomans and the Middle East World View
Four: Leadership and Ethnicity: Turks, Pan-Arabism and Persians
PART THREE — TURKISH EXPERIENCE AS A MODEL
Five: Authoritarianism and the Kemalist Spirit: Getting the Military
Back to the Barracks
Six: The Ergenekon Crisis: The Twilight of the Turkish Military
Seven: Islam, Politics and Society
Eight: Forms of Islam in Turkey: The Decade of the
Justice and Development Party (AKP)
Nine: Forms of Islam in Turkey: Official Islam and the Role of Diyanet
Ten: Forms of Islam: Ahmet Davutoğlu: Pioneering a New Turkish
Eleven: Forms of Islam in Turkey: Popular Islam
Twelve: Forms of Islam: Popular Islam-Hizmet and the Gülen Movement
Thirteen: Forms of Islam: Cracks in the Islamic Scene in Turkey
Fourteen: The Challenge of the “Arab Spring”
PART FOUR — ISLAM AND SUNNI REVOLUTION
Fifteen: Islam and Revolution
Sixteen: Can Egypt Restore Its Regional Leadership?
Seventeen: Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia: Ideological Polarities
PART FIVE — SHI’ISM AND REVOLUTION
Eighteen: Shi’ite Revolution – Specter and Reality
Nineteen: The Challenge of Shi’ism: Iran as Geopolitical Threat?
Twenty: The Challenge of Shi’ism: Iraq Shifts the Balance
Twenty-One: The Challenge of Shi’ism: Syria Tests the World
Twenty-Two: The Kurdish Regional Web
Twenty-Three: The Israel Factor
Twenty-Four: The AKP and the Future of Turkey
Twenty-Five: Whither the Middle East?