In This Review

Turkey and the Arab Spring: Leadership in the Middle East
Turkey and the Arab Spring: Leadership in the Middle East
By Graham E. Fuller
Bozorg Press, 2014, 408 pp.

Despite his years as a Middle East analyst for the CIA, the National Intelligence Council, and the RAND Corporation, Fuller is a fierce critic of U.S. policy in the region. He spreads the blame for the Middle East’s woes among Western powers and local actors -- especially Saudi Arabia, whose regime he believes will not survive much longer. Fuller’s portrait of the present state of the region is at odds with most conventional accounts. In his view, the great contemporary battle is neither the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis nor the one between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but rather a tug of war over Sunni identity that pits Turkey and its moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) against Saudi Arabia and the extremist Salafi vassals it funds. Fuller backs the AKP (as well as the Muslim Brotherhood more generally) and seems confident that the AKP embodies a truly democratic brand of political Islam. This sweeping survey is marred by a number of oddities (such as an apologia for the idea of a reinvented caliphate) and inconsistencies (for example, Fuller minimizes the role of sectarianism in regional politics while also insisting on the centrality of the struggle to define Sunni identity).