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As Turkey Heats Up, What Does It Mean For The GCC?

As Turkey Heats Up, What Does It Mean For The GCC?

With protests erupting across Turkey, the region’s fragile stability is again exposed, writes Aarti Nagraj.

The so-called Arab Spring has already completed over two seasonal cycles, but so far, there is scant resolution.

As Syria continues to suffer – recent UN estimates state that over 93,000 people have been killed – mass-populated Turkey has now entered the fray.

Unlike Egypt or Libya, Turkey boasts one of the strongest economies in the region, with sectors like tourism and aviation growing exponentially in recent times.

But what began as peaceful demonstrations against the demolition of a park in Istanbul have rapidly morphed into violent riots, with citizens now demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

As pro-and anti-government forces clash in Istanbul, it is a stern reminder of the region’s eggshell stability, and how it just takes one tiny incident to incite and provoke a restless and discontented segment of the population.

The GCC governments have resorted to hiking public spending to appease their people and to diffuse boiling point anger among its youth.

While that has proved to be a successful strategy for the short term, is it really a sustainable solution?

Economic and social problems such as unemployment and lack of freedom loom large and they need to be addressed – through policy, regulations, knowledge-based economies.

However, experts advise caution, and say that change will come about at a pace that is suitable for the Middle East region.

“Though there is a desire for faster progress among a section of the population, the GCC governments are driven by caution to safeguard the last four decades’ gains,” according to Dr N. Janardhan, a political analyst based in the UAE.

“In this pursuit, development and change will be a mixed bag of tradition and modernity, one that is compatible with local identity. This means continuity amid change.”

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