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-   -   Turkey: politicians and generals - what is going on? (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=13879)

Jedburgh 04-11-2007 03:44 PM

Secularism and Foreign Policy in Turkey
 
Moderator's Note

This thread has been renamed from 'WTF News Network : Turkish Senior Ranks' mass resignation/retirement' to 'Turkey: politicians and generals - what is going on?'

A thread 2008-2009 called 'Secularism and Foreign Policy in Turkey', which contains background to the latest issues has now been merged into this thread.


WINEP Policy Focus, Apr 07:

Secularism and Foreign Policy in Turkey: New Elections, Troubling Trends
Quote:

Turkey is often said to offer a counter-example to every cliché regarding Muslim majority countries and the Middle East. For starters, the country has been westernizing since the days of the Ottoman Empire. Second, Turkey has been staunchly secular since the interwar-era reforms initiated by its founding president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Third, Turkey has been a multiparty democracy since 1950. And last but not least, Turkey has maintained a pro-Western political orientation since the end of the World War II...

...The United States should be concerned about the AKP domination of Turkish politics because the AKP’s erosion of the secular Turkish weltanschauung is weakening the country’s pro-Western foreign policy orientation. Is the Turkish democracy strong enough to face the AKP beyond 2007? Will Turkey’s secularism and Western orientation prove resilient under this party’s leadership? What are the AKP’s stakes in the 2007 elections, and who are likely challengers to the party? Last but not least, what are the implications of this fateful period for U.S. policy, and what should the United States do to maintain Turkey’s pro-Western foreign policy orientation?....

Tom Odom 04-11-2007 04:53 PM

Good Report
 
thanks mate

Good report in most regards. Interesting in all.

As WINEP paper I was not surprised that anti-Israel was equated to anti-Semitic and then tied to anti-American. While the 3 can be related they are not defined as such.

Tom

Old Eagle 04-11-2007 06:13 PM

Others of you may know better, but the conventional wisdom has always been that the Turkish military is the keeper of secularism. Whenever politics strayed too far from center, the military would stage a coup, impose a government and "do over". The last coup was around 1980, so there is a theory that events are overdue.

Although only anecdotal, my recent contact with Turkish officers seems to indicate a drift in the pro-clerical direction (from earlier datapoints in the 70s and 80s). If the officer corps, the bastion of secularism, becomes more religiously oriented, what might follow? Any other insights?

Likewise, as TIME mag was seeking its "Man of the Century" for the 20th century and asked for e-mail input, Turkish "voters" overwhelmed the tabulators with votes for Ataturk. Of course, TIME does not operate a democracy and Ataturk was not selected. Given the current tension between Islamic countries and organizations and "the west", maybe he should have been. A successful secular Muslim state. Hmmm.

wm 04-16-2007 01:25 PM

The BBC posted this interesting counterpoint to the study about the Islamist shift in Turkey

Turks argue over next president
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Ankara

Mr Erdogan has denied pushing a pro-Islam agenda
The Turkish parliament has begun the process of electing a new president, in what is already proving a highly controversial contest.

More than 300,000 people took to the streets of the capital at the weekend to pressure Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to stand.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6558967.stm

goesh 04-18-2007 12:30 PM

I doubt the Kurds will be sacrificed to bolster Turkey's historical pro-West policy orientation. I thought all along that when Turkey refused to let the 3rd ID embark from its soil into Iraq from the north during the invasion the problems were just starting. A precursor to a more Islamic military orientation I would guess. From other posts it almost appears as if Turkey and Iran are in bed togather over the Kurds.

tequila 04-18-2007 12:42 PM

Zaman notes that this latest presser should be viewed in context with revelations that the military may have planned a coup against the AKP government in 2004, as well as the possibility that Erdogan may declare for President soon.

Quote:

Ten years ago, the Turkish Armed Forces organized a series of press conferences to undermine --successfully as it turned out -- the religious-right and center-right coalition government of Necmettin Erbakan and Tansu Çiller. The military delivered a series of orchestrated criticisms of its own government -- then forced the Cabinet to sign what amounted to a loyalty pledge, a strategy that waggish pundits at the time labeled “the post-modern coup.” This time Gen. Büyükanıt seemed determined to deconstruct not his own government but its uneasy coalition with the government of George W. Bush.

...

In many ways the general’s speech seemed less a foray into the political arena than an attempt to re-polish the military’s image -- tarnished after another leaked news story that senior commanders had seriously considered staging a coup in 2004. There was no record or even a trace of such a plot in the military archives, Gen. Büyükanıt said. He knew, because he had looked.

And for the grand finale. What would the military do if Tayyip Erdoğan succeeded in having himself appointed president and thus military commander-in-chief? He didn’t actually pose the rhetorical question. He did say he knew the procedure for selecting a president was laid out formally in the Constitution but that it was certainly his hope that the new president would not simply pay lip service to the secular nature of the republic but respect its very core.

Eurasianet's analysis of the demo.

Quote:

The organizer of the April 14 march was an NGO chaired by a retired military police chief rumored to have led two coup attempts against the government in 2004. That link encouraged many to stay away – one prominent intellectual even compared the protest to the march on Rome that brought Mussolini to power in 1922.

Many of the Ankara protesters had nothing to do with either the organizing NGO, or Turkey’s head opposition party, whose leader occasionally makes veiled calls for military intervention. Yet there was something evocative of the tumultuous 1920s about the rally. Ubiquitous images of Ataturk, who died in 1938, contributed to that, as did the participants’ defiant rhetoric. It’s clear that present-day partisans of Turkey’s secularist tradition see themselves as on the frontlines of a culture war over the future direction of the state.

...

"We are today’s mad Turks", schoolteacher Hasan Devecioglu said approvingly, as a speaker on the platform called for the "imperialist" International Monetary Fund, the US and the EU to "get your hands off Turkey."

He was referring to a fictionalized retelling of the Kemalist version of Turkey’s liberation struggle that has barely left best-seller lists since it was published in 2005. The success of Turgut Ozakman’s "Those Mad Turks" stems largely from the fact many Turks see parallels between the dying days of the Ottoman Empire and today.

After the First World War, while the Sultan and his Istanbul government collaborated with British occupation forces, Turkish nationalists prepared to fight from the depths of Anatolia. Today, increasingly anti-Western secularists think, the collaborators are the AKP and the invaders are Brussels and Washington.


tequila 04-24-2007 12:28 PM

Erdogan declines to run for Turkish presidency.

wm 04-24-2007 04:26 PM

The interesting question that comes to my mind is whether his alternative, Gul, is just a proxy/figurehead. They both are allegedly Islamists/Islamic fundamentalists; each man's wife is known for wearing the head scarf.

I imagine there is some interesting talk around the chey house tavla boards.

tequila 04-24-2007 05:10 PM

NYTIMES report.

Quote:

Turkey’s majority political party today chose a prominent leader with an Islamic background to compete for the presidency, a move expected to extend the party’s reach into the heart of Turkey’s secular establishment — and boost a new class of self-described Muslim moderates — for the first time in this country’s history.

The choice of Abdullah Gul, 56, the affable, English-speaking foreign minister who is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest political ally, is expected to be confirmed by parliament in several rounds of voting that begin on Friday.

Turkey is a Muslim country, but its state, set up in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is strictly secular, and the presidency is its most important office. The selection of Mr. Gul, whose wife wears a head scarf, is not likely to sit well with secular Turks, some of whom worry that their lifestyles — drinking alcohol, wearing miniskirts, and swimming in co-ed pools — could eventually be in danger.

Mr. Gul, an agile reformer who has long been his party’s public face abroad, nodded to those concerns in a press conference in Ankara after his nomination today, saying, “Our differences are our richness.” His candidacy was a minor concession. The choice most distasteful to the secular establishment was Mr. Erdogan himself, who deftly bowed out.

...

“These are the new forces, the new social powers,” said Ali Bulac, a columnist for a conservative, mainstream newspaper in Istanbul. “They are very devout. They don’t drink. They don’t gamble. They don’t take holidays.”

“They are loaded with a huge energy.” he added. “This energy has been blocked by the state.”

That energy has helped drive a spectacular economic boom in Turkey. In the country’s two largest cities, progress dazzles. Shiny new fuel-efficient taxis zip down tulip-lined streets. New parks have opened. The air is no longer polluted. The economy has doubled in size in the four years since the AK party came to power, a growth spurt that was kept on track by its strict adherence to an economic program prescribed by the International Monetary Fund ...

This picture of an AK Party rally surprised me. Not many Arab Islamists feature female background dancers.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/...600-turkey.jpg

goesh 06-08-2007 04:53 PM

Turkey's Parliamentary Elections
 
taken from: adkronosinternational: 6/8/08:

"TURKEY: CENTRE RIGHT MOTHERLAND PARTY QUITS ELECTIONS


Istanbul, 8 June (AKI) -
......

Also on Friday, Turkey's Electorate Council, the body which regulates the elections, vetoed the candidature of thee ethnic Kurdish candidates - Orhan Dogan, Selim Sadak and Hatip Dicle - accusing them of of extremism. The three, all former members of the defunct Kurdish-rights Democracy Party (DEP) - banned by the authorities for its perceived extremism - had planned to run as independents."

SWJED 07-23-2007 08:42 AM

Turkey's Parliamentary Elections
 
23 July LA Times - Turkey's Ruling Party Wins Big in Parliamentary Elections by Laura King.

Quote:

Voters Sunday handed Turkey's Islamist-influenced ruling party a decisive victory in parliamentary elections, rewarding it for stewardship of the country's robust economy but raising the specter of bitter new quarrels over the feared erosion of Turkey's secular traditions.

With 99% of the votes counted, the Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials AKP, garnered about 47% of the vote, according to unofficial results — a substantial increase over the 34% it received in elections five years ago when it came to power.

The vote could have far-reaching consequences for Turkey's engagement with the West, including its drive to become the first Muslim-dominated country to join the European Union. Though secularist parties have been cool to that idea, the AKP has vowed to press ahead with the bid despite early rebuffs...
19 July BBC - Two Faces of Modern Turkey.

Jedburgh 10-12-2007 02:52 PM

The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Monitor, 12 Oct 07:

ECHR Ruling Highlights Discrimination Suffered by Turkey's Alevi Minority
Quote:

The October 9 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), stating that compulsory religious instruction in Turkey violates the rights of religious minorities, has highlighted the discrimination suffered by the country’s substantial Alevi community (Aksam, Milliyet, Radikal, October 10)....

....Alevis have traditionally been regarded with suspicion by Turkey’s Sunni Muslim majority and suffered both discrimination and occasional pogroms. In July 1993 37 people were killed when a Sunni Muslim mob set fire to a hotel in the Anatolian city of Sivas that was hosting an Alevi cultural festival. Although it fielded a few token Alevi candidates in the July 22 general election, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is an almost exclusively Sunni Muslim . Both publicly and privately, leading AKP members have frequently refused to recognize Alevism as a distinct religious tradition, regarding Alevis as renegade Sunnis rather than having an identity in their own right. In September 2005, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly dismissed Alevism as a culture rather than a religion and said that the only place for prayer was a mosque.....
My wife is an Alevi Kurd from the eastern part of Sivas province in Turkey (right up against the border with Erzincan province, for those who care about such matters). We actually stayed at that very hotel in Sivas not a week prior to the incident.

The article actually puts it pretty mildly. Among many Sunni Turks there is a real depth of prejudice and bigotry against those who are known to be Alevis in Turkey, and many nasty myths spread around about them in the country. The one that really angers the Alevis is the one about "mum söndü" (the candle went out) - Some Sunni Turks like to relate that the Alevi have a ceremony where they gather together in the evening, they put out the candles, and then engage in incestuous and adulterous orgies. In the culture, this goes beyond being an extreme insult, the tale debasing Alevi family and personal honor.

wm 10-22-2007 02:06 PM

A pretty notable piece written for the Brookings Institute here. While posted in November 2005, it has a lot of explantory power IMO.

Quote:

Today, more than two years after the invasion of Iraq, Turkey has yet to lose its potential to disappoint Washington. As the second Bush administration is stepping up its profreedom rhetoric in the Middle East, it is quite disconcerting that the most democratic Muslim country in the region shows no signs of solidarity with the United States. Quite the opposite, Turkey is often in the news for its rampant anti-Americanism and solidarity with Bashar's Syria. Polls after polls confirm that growing numbers of Turks perceive their NATO ally more as a national security threat, rather than a strategic partner. One of the flashiest symptoms of Turkish distrust towards the United States is the best-selling novel in the country, which depicts a Turkish-American war over Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

What went wrong? Why has Turkey become the most anti-American country in the West? One needs to go beyond the generic and global phenomenon of Bush-bashing in order to fully grasp the dynamics behind Turkish anti-Americanism. In many ways, Turkey is a sui-generis case. Recent polls illustrate that while anti-Americanism is in relative decline in Europe, the trend in Turkey is in the opposite direction. Moreover, unlike past domestic trends, the current wave of anti-Americanism in Turkey seems to be embraced by all segments of Turkish society. For all these reasons, the Turkish case needs to be analyzed in a historical and comparative perspective. This essay is an attempt to do so.

goesh 10-23-2007 11:39 AM

Loading the Dice
 
If the Turks want Islam to be a cornerstone of their strategic thinking, fine, so be it. It's a hell of alot easier to tighten our bond with the Kurds than it is to put up with their BS. Turkey has yet to be punished for their refusal to allow the 3rd ID to roll South out of Turkey during the invasion after so much logistical energy and money was expended on said plan. That cost us some lives and treasure and they need to look closer at Afghan and truly see what comes across the Paki border to wreak havoc and see the same dynamic on their Southern flank waiting to explode up their Turkish a**es.

tequila 10-23-2007 12:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by goesh (Post 29190)
If the Turks want Islam to be a cornerstone of their strategic thinking, fine, so be it.

Actually it is the secular nationalist parties and the avowedly secular military which are most eager to smash the Kurds. The Turkish Islamists are generally seen by the secularists as far too pro-Kurdish and pro-American, as seen in this editorial.

Quote:

It's a hell of alot easier to tighten our bond with the Kurds than it is to put up with their BS. Turkey has yet to be punished for their refusal to allow the 3rd ID to roll South out of Turkey during the invasion after so much logistical energy and money was expended on said plan. That cost us some lives and treasure and they need to look closer at Afghan and truly see what comes across the Paki border to wreak havoc and see the same dynamic on their Southern flank waiting to explode up their Turkish a**es.
As far as value as allies go, I think throwing over the Turks for the KRG has about as much strategic value as jettisoning Britain in return for Ireland.

Ken White 10-23-2007 04:27 PM

I can't seem to find the quote at the linked editorial.
 
What am I missing?

tequila 10-23-2007 04:52 PM

The second quote is from Goesh, not the editorial.

The linked editorial, to clarify, is from a secularist/Kemalist newspaper, where the writer basically says that Turks can't get too upset about the Armenian genocide vote in Congress or the PKK terrorists because they elected the AKP, the Islamist party, which is soft on Armenians, Americans, and Kurds. If they really wanted to be respected on either issue, they should have elected the secularists.

Ken White 10-23-2007 07:00 PM

Thanks. Read the whole thread and saw Goesh's comment
 
but I was obviously operating in the disconnected mode... :o

goesh 10-24-2007 03:38 AM

I am only suggesting they be shown some serious disrespect. This Armenian debate business is a polite slap with a glove on. They are much like dogs in the proverbial manger. Their old animosity towards the Kurds appears to have blinded them and they could not see much beyond the inevitable Kurdish gain they knew would accompany the toppling of Saddam Hussein, so they sat smug and complacent forbidding the 3rd ID their Northern egress after assurances had been given. They will sit smug and complacent when the sparks fly in Iran, and they will fly there, in part because they share Kurdish animosity with the Persians. This to me is the Islamic imprint on strategic thinking that is creeping in on them, nothing more. When the 'all seeing eye' casting its rays from DC focuses on Iran and necessarily must exploit what the Kurds can provide against Iran, we can hardly then expect the Kurds to stay on a leash when it comes to settling old scores with Turkey.

tequila 10-24-2007 08:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by goesh (Post 29244)
I am only suggesting they be shown some serious disrespect. This Armenian debate business is a polite slap with a glove on. They are much like dogs in the proverbial manger. Their old animosity towards the Kurds appears to have blinded them and they could not see much beyond the inevitable Kurdish gain they knew would accompany the toppling of Saddam Hussein, so they sat smug and complacent forbidding the 3rd ID their Northern egress after assurances had been given.

Do you think disrespecting a proud ally is a good way to make them do what you want them to do? Sounds like an excellent way to convince them that your friendship isn't worth anything at all and that perhaps they should find better allies, like the Chinese or the Iranians. If you read the Turkish press, you'll find that many Turks already think like this due to reports of American weapons and advisors in PKK camps.

Quote:

Originally Posted by goesh (Post 29244)
They will sit smug and complacent when the sparks fly in Iran, and they will fly there, in part because they share Kurdish animosity with the Persians. This to me is the Islamic imprint on strategic thinking that is creeping in on them, nothing more.

You're going to have to decipher this one for me, I have no idea what you mean here.


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