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Atatürk’s Middle East: representations in the construction of state identity

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The main argument of this paper is that Turkey had close relations with Middle Eastern states during the Atatürk period, which is contrary to the literature that claims the opposite because of Turkey’s Western-oriented ideology. The article asks why Turkey as a Western-oriented state sought to have close relations with Middle Eastern states. To answer this question, the article uses discourse analysis focusing on Middle Eastern leaders’ visits as represented in Turkish public discourse. Accordingly, it proposes two main answers. Firstly, the paper argues that the new state’s relations with Middle Eastern countries played an important role in legitimation of its Westernization projects in the eyes of its citizens. Secondly, the Turkish state marginalized rival political discourses, mainly Islamism, by proving that even Muslim majority countries wanted to imitate modern Turkey.




Özgür, B. (2020). Atatürk’s Middle East: representations in the construction of state identity. Turkish Studies, 21(3), 414–435.

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