As part of its overall framework for the rational study and research of the international relations of Arab countries and the regional geostrategic and geopolitical actors with which they interact, the ACRPS organized an academic conference from the 18th to the 19th May, 2011 under the title: The Arabs and Turkey: Challenges of the Present and the Outlook for the Future in Doha, in which a select group of researchers and scholars concerned with  Arab-Turkish relations participated. 

In light of a growing role for Turkey in the region, the conference aimed to illuminate the nature of Arab-Turkish relations and the factors which drive this relationship. The meeting also sought to try to predict the future development of relations between both sides of the Arab-Turkish coin, and to point out areas in which they may have complementary interests. 

The opening session was chaired by the ACRPS General Director, Dr. Azmi Bishara, and was followed by sessions in which Arab researchers focused on the following themes:

  • History:  researchers focused on the relationship between the two sides in the era of the Ottoman Empire as well as in-depth study of the movement of the Turkish Kemalist Constitutional and their impact on the Arab world at the time.

  • Strategy: A number of papers addressed the  strategic options facing the Arab world in its relations with  Turkey. Other papers presented aimed to understand how common interests between both sides of the Arab-Turkish relationship will develop in light of the post-Kemalist state in Turkey, and the rise of the Islamist-oriented AKP. 

  • Politics and Strategy: Other researchers covered the role of Turkey in regional and Arab affairs , with a close examination of its effects on some of the region's central concerns, particularly the Palestinian issue, with some authors discussing how Turkish-Arab alliances may have played a role in changing the nature of the Turkish-Israeli relationship. Also discussed was how Turkish efforts to join the European Union may impact on Turkey's relations with Arab countries.

The first day ended with a fourth session focused on the theme of economic relations and trade exchange between Turkey and the Arab states, providing for an academic survey  of Turkish-Arab economic relations, in addition to a study of the extant free trade zones between the two sides.

The second day of the Conference was brought to a close with meetings on a variety of  topics including:

  • The center of power: The researchers focused on the importance of the Arab world in this area as a result of wealth and big reserves of oil and gas which constitute a major anchor in Arab-Turkish relations, especially in terms of existing and potential bi-lateral projects in the energy sector.

    The sharing of water resources continues to be a contentious issue in Arab-Turkish relations, with the share of water from rivers which cross international boundaries to Turkey's Arab neighbors not being a fully resolved issue.
  • Community Relations: This saw a focus on the issue of inter-cultural communities on both sides of the Arab-Turkish frontier, with particular emphasis being given to the Arab communities living within Turkey's borders and the Kurdish community which populates the borderlands between Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Special attention was also paid to the social ramifications of the Assyrian exile from present-day Turkey into Syria and Iraq. 

    The roundtable discussion, which ended the conference, provided for an academic discussion of the Turkish model of government, and discussed its applicability to Arab societies, particularly given the desirability for doing so at a time of political change in the Arab countries, and the rise of political Islam. These are discussed in detail in the Doha Report.