Turkey in the Middle East: Oil, Islam, and Politics

Turkey in the Middle East: Oil, Islam, and Politics

Turkey in the Middle East: Oil, Islam, and Politics

Turkey in the Middle East: Oil, Islam, and Politics


At the turn of the century, modern Turkey remains torn between the secular heritage of its founder, Kemal Ataturk, and the political and social trends that challenge that legacy. Alon Liel traces the development of Turkey's current political environment, investigating the collapse of the country's economy in the 1970s, its recovery in the 1980s, its relationship with its Middle Eastern neighbors, and the dramatic political events of the 1990s.


This book is the product of my more than twenty years of research on Turkish and regional affairs, both as a member of the Israeli diplomatic service and as an academic scholar.

During the three decades with which the book is mainly concerned, 1970–2000, an extraordinary transformation took place in Turkey's Middle Eastern policies. For example, Turkey's relations with Israel, nearly meaningless in the 1970s, became intensely cooperative in the 1990s. This transformation reflected the renewed Western orientation of Turkey's foreign policy, which in turn was mainly the result of the country's recovery from the severe economic crisis of the late 1970s, following the global energy crisis. This story will be told here in some detail.

I acknowledge with thanks the support provided by the Rothschild and Yad HaNadiv Foundations, the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, my academic home these past few years. Special thanks to Amnon Cohen, Victor Azarya, and Edy Kaufman, members of the Truman Institute, whose help made possible the publication of the English-language version of the book.

I also express my thanks to those Turkish diplomats and politicians who consented to be interviewed for this study, including former Turkish prime minister and president Süleyman Demirel. Many thanks to members of Israel's diplomatic staff in Turkey, including Ambassadors Zvi Alpeleg and Uri Barner. To Turkey's previous ambassador to Israel, Barlas Özener, I am grateful for many conversations into the wee hours on Turkey and its marvels.

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