`Turkey a model for new Arab states`

The latest opinion poll says 72 percent of respondents believe Turkey is a good model for the new Arab states.

Dubai: With old establishments crumbling in the face of a democratic upsurge, a majority of people in the Arab world are looking up to Turkey as a political model that post-revolutionary states in the region should adopt.

According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates forum, 72 percent of respondents believe Turkey is a good model for the new Arab states, which include Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Turkey`s closeness to the Arab world with regards to culture, religion and traditions, its emergence as a well-respected country and the fact that the Turkish model has integrated Islam into politics which `fits into the needs of the Arab world` were cited as the main reasons by those surveyed for supporting the Turkish model.

The poll findings contradict the results of the latest Doha Debate held in the Turkish capital of Istanbul this month in which 59 percent of those surveyed said Turkey was a bad model for the new Arab states.

However, in the Levant region that includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestinian, and parts of Cyprus, Turkey and Iraq, the highest number of people -- 35 percent -- were opposed to Turkey as a model.

In other parts of the region though, Turkey remained a more popular political system.

While a high level of support for the Turkish model was seen, a significant number of those polled were sceptical of the motives of Islamists.

45 percent expressed concerns that Islamists, who have emerged as the most viable political alternative to the departing systems, will adopt the Turkish model so they can introduce their beliefs into government under the banner of religion.

Last year went down in history as a watershed year for the Arab region, that saw state after state being swept away by a democratic surge, with mass uprisings overthrowing deeply entrenched rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

The poll, conducted by the polling company YouGov between January 29 and February 2, questioned 1001 people. The Doha Debates are hosted and funded by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a private chartered organisation. Chaired by Tim Sebastian, the internationally renowned award-winning broadcaster, the Doha Debates series has been broadcast on BBC World News since January 2005.