Ten years after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Turkey in 2002, Turkish-Arab relations have dramatically improved. This rapprochement was largely based on Turkey’s engagement with Arab publics as part of a soft power–based policy conceived as neo-Ottomanism. Against the backdrop of the remarkable popularity of Turkish television dramas in the Arab world, this article focuses on Turkey’s transnational broadcasting and nation-branding efforts. Acknowledging the limits and challenges to soft power, it argues that the success of neo-Ottomanism has been based on the Turkish government’s use of multiple strategies of outreach through popular culture, rhetoric, and broadcasting to create a new Turkish nation brand of neo-Ottoman cool, articulated as at once more benign and more powerful. The conclusion discusses how the Arab uprisings have complicated Turkey’s charm offensive in the Arab world.
Published in Volume 7, pages 2341-2360