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Caspian Weekly: Turkey's Role in the Organization of Islamic Conference, JDP Government and the Greater Middle East Project

Author: Ozan Örmeci
May 29, 2010

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Turkey's role in the Organization of the Islamic Conference has been increasing consistently after the take-over of Justice and Development Party (JDP) in 2002. Simultaneously with Turkey's increasing role in the organization, OIC, which has functioned as a non-influential international actor until recent years, has now an important agenda due to the problems of the Islamic world and USA's "Greater Middle East Project."

It cannot be denied that the Middle East has been one of the most problematic regions of the world, especially after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Starting from the early 20th century, Middle East has often been a place of warfare, Islamic extremism, terrorism and tears. Many of the problems in the region seem to be caused by the backwardness of the regimes in this geography as well as oppression, terrorism, and violence generated in the name of Islam. It should also be noted that Middle Eastern countries have enormous oil resources, and developed Western countries have always shown a particular interest in exploiting their resources. It seems that Arab-Israeli conflict shall never come to an end because of the mistakes made in the past. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is the sole body representing the voice of Muslims throughout the world. OIC is an inter-governmental organization of 57 states which serves the interests of the world's estimated 1.4 billion Muslims. OIC was established in Rabat, Morocco on September 25, 1969 “in reaction to a Zionist arson attack against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on August 21, 1969”. Although the OIC did not play a major role in the internal politics until 21st century and was not able to defend Islamic causes successfully, its role in the global environment seems to have increased rapidly with the recent developments.

Middle Eastern people, who have always been the victims of vicious wars, power struggles and authoritarian anti-democratic regimes, seem to have a last chance to break up with their unfortunate destiny and to change the course of things in their geography. However, this chance is mostly dependent on the decisions of their leaders and international powers since democracy exists only theoretically and symbolically in this part of the world. Turkey as a Western type secular country who waits for full accession to European Union, with 99 % Muslim population, could play a crucial role in harmonizing the interests of different parts in this power game and bring stability and peace to the region. This paper represents an attempt to question and analyze Turkey’s different alternatives for the role it should play in order to provide peace in the Middle Eastern geography from a historical-comparative perspective. It will be argued that a strong coalition between the Middle Eastern countries under the leadership of Turkey could prevent further American aggression and contribute to the world peace and democratization process. But, if Turkey avoids this major humanitarian responsibility, Middle Eastern people will inevitably face with many new cruelties and pains since USA is determined to implement the Greater Middle East Project. The authors are going to begin with the history, aims and the structure of the OIC. Then, they will focus on the recent developments in the OIC together with the election of JDP government in Turkey. Thirdly, they will try to explain some characteristics of the Greater Middle East Project which can prevent peace and stability in the Middle Eastern geography for centuries to come. Lastly, the authors will concentrate on the behaviors of different political actors and scenarios about the future of Middle Eastern countries.

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