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Reuters: Pro-Islamist Diplomacy Has left Turkey Isolated, “Sidelined,” “Increasingly Lonely”

Analysts have been warning for years that Turkey’s deep and sustained support for Middle East Islamists was undermining stability throughout the region. According to a range of analysts interviewed by Reuters, the region as a whole has had enough:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cuts an increasingly lonely figure in a region whose future he still hopes to help shape… But his strident calls for intervention to help force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power have left him appearing sidelined after Washington and Moscow struck a deal this week averting U.S. strikes, at least for now. His outspoken support for the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Mursi has left Turkey without full diplomatic relations with the Arab world’s most populous nation, and set it at odds with the Gulf Arab states whose investment has helped Turkey to prosper over the past decade.

The analysis echoes points recently made by Georgetown Turkey expert Michael Koplow to the effect that Erdogan has “been raging on a daily basis against the Egyptian army” to the detriment of Egyptian-Turkey relations.

Ankara’s diplomatic isolation is having economic consequences. Turkey relies on trade with the Gulf to sustain vast swaths of its economy, but Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has put Turkey on the wrong side of most Gulf countries and endangered economic ties:

Turkish exports to the Middle East fell by almost a third in July to $3.1 billion from a year earlier, Turkey’s statistics agency said. Abu Dhabi’s state-owned oil explorer and power supplier TAQA announced last month that it was delaying a $12 billion project to build several power plants in Turkey, a decision some saw as politically motivated. “A growing sense of Turkey’s isolation in the region … risks the erosion of benefits from the enormous strides made over the past decade in terms of the development of trade and investment flows,” said Timothy Ash, an economist at Standard Bank in London.

[Photo: International Monetary Fund / Flickr]