By İsmail Duman, World Bulletin
The JDP's agenda items...
According to Muhlis Kacar, from Today's Zaman, "around 3 million unemployed and a 20.6 percent youth unemployment rate show that the problem persists and needs to be tackled by the new government." "Now that the elections are over, both hopes and challenges aplenty will await the newly elected government. As economist and investment banker Murat Yülek, who was previously CEO of a financial leasing company, says, an intensive economic agenda awaits Turkey after the elections."
In addition to economic expectations, there are two other important domestic agenda items: A new constitution and the Kurdish issue...
A new constitution...
"Erdogan needed at least 330 seats to call for a referendum for a new constitution: to introduce a new constitution." says Seyfeddin Kara. "He may have to postpone this plan or give concessions to the other two parties in parliament to gain their support."
According to M K Bhadrakumar, "The path that Erdogan chooses to take in his forthcoming term is already a matter of animated discussion. The AKP's mandate translates as 326 seats in the 550-member parliament, which is 40 short of the two-thirds majority he needs to amend the constitution and four short of the 330 seats he needs to seek a referendum over a constitutional reform."
"The voters wanted to see Erdogan and his government in power for another four years but asked him to seek compromise for a new constitution with opposition parties." he said. " Is Erdogan going to look for common ground with opposition and with whom? The answer to it will shape the Turkish politics in the months ahead. In sum, Erdogan has to reconcile the two 'halves' of Turkey - secular and liberal Turks on the one hand and a large established Islamic conservative elite with a well-organized political party on the other."
As Yonca Poyraz Doğan emphasizes, "We will not shut our doors, as we have fewer than 330 deputies, and we will go to the opposition. I am telling you tonight that if they accept us, we will be in efforts to compromise with the parties that remained outside of Parliament, civil society, media, academics and everybody else who has a say in the process," Erdogan said in his speech, stressing "compromise" three times in two paragraphs regarding making a new constitution.
Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the Turkey reporter in the European Parliament, congratulated Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his party's landslide victory in parliamentary elections and she warned about a new constitution. "I hope these issues will be tackled responsibly by all political parties in a spirit of consensus and compromise," Oomen-Ruijten said. "The only way forward for uniting Turkish society on the basis of equal rights for every citizen is through political dialogue and concrete initiatives for reconciliation by peaceful means. This will bring Turkey closer to the European Union, which is in the interest of both Turkey and the EU."
According to news of Today's Zaman, "'we call on all political parties in Parliament to get together to make a new constitution and we call on them to consider the demands of society while doing it,' said Enver Sezgin from the New Constitution Platform (YAP), which had in May prepared the 'Essential Report for Turkey's New Constitution,' penned following 24 YAP meetings organized in various cities and involving close to 6,000 people. 'We will continue our public meetings in various cities, towns and villages in Turkey, targeting 100 meetings,' he added.
YAP is already working with the Democratic Constitution Movement (DAH), which also stresses public participation in the constitution-making process. 'In Turkey, constitutions always came from the top down. We adopt a bottom-up approach,' said Ayhan Bilgen from DAH, which is also planning more public meetings focusing on demands from the people. Noting that politicians in Turkey are not used to engaging in dialogue on equal terms with civil society, Bilgen added that the relationship needs to be healthier for society to own the constitution."
On the other hand, as Beril Dedeoglu emphasizes that "as Turkey turns into an economic and political 'reference country', foreign analysts will have to follow what is going on in Turkey more closely. Thus, every step undertaken by the government will not only be debated in Turkey, but also in many foreign countries."; she also warns about the new constitution: "that compromise will have to be found with those who defend different lifestyles, and with divergent ethnic and religious groups. As is the case, the people expect the AK Party not to externalize the values represented by the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) granted that these parties keep their doors open to negotiation, of course."
According to Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, "the AKP might now pursue one of three paths. In the first scenario, it could try to create a consensus within the parliament, ideally among all party groups, after an open negotiation process that includes civil society. True, it might not be very easy to find a common ground with the Turkish nationalist MHP and the ethnic Kurdish party BDP. But a compromise between AKP and CHP is not as difficult as it used to be.
In the second possible scenario, the AKP might seek to reach a consensus with other party groups in the parliament, but would decide to draft the constitution alone after this first attempt failed—for example because of the AKP's insistence on the presidential system. It might secure the missing four votes from independents or the opposition parties with the help of incentives. The risk of an embarrassing failure, however, is very real. And even if the AKP were able to draft a constitution, force a popular vote and win it, such a document would exacerbate rather than calm down the polarization of Turkish society.
In the third scenario, the AKP might initially try to create a consensus within the Parliament for constitutional reform but would give up the idea after the political party groups in the parliament fail to reach a compromise. However, a new, citizen-centered, democratic constitution is long overdue in Turkey—so giving up the idea of constitutional reform altogether is not a plausible scenario either."
In these days, Turkish intellectuals are busy with "a new constitution agenda". In Abant Platform's meeting, many intellectuals also focused on this issue.
According to Today's Zaman Newspaper, "vocal voices of civil society, journalists and lawyers discussed on Thursday at the Abant Platform the challenges Parliament faces in writing a brand new constitution that will replace military-era law in a first related debate following parliamentary elections on Sunday that kept the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in power.
'People want stability and that is the reason why 50 percent of the people voted for the ruling party,' Beril Dedeoglu from Galatasaray University said, adding that this must send a signal to political parties to avoid confrontation and act in accord to find a common language in writing the new constitution.
Ali Bulaç, a columnist with the Zaman daily, drew a bleak picture and said the political parties in Turkey have a penchant for confrontation and fierce squabbles and that it is necessary to establish a commission under the auspices of Parliament that represent every segment of society, including religious and other communities. Taha Akyol, a columnist with the Milliyet daily, disagreed with Bulaç and said he believes society is polarized and is not any better than the political parties.
Akyol said this is the first time a constitution will be written by a civil initiative but warned against escalating confrontation and tension the public had witnessed during election campaigning before Sunday's vote. According to Akyol, the most fragile and sensitive issue is identity and that any stress on Turkish or Kurdish ethnic identities in the new constitution might set large segments of society aflame.
Lawyer Osman Can also called on political parties to abandon what they earlier termed "red lines" and said parties must decide to talk without preconditions.
Participants also lauded the proportion of representation of new Parliament and said 95 percent of deputies represent the voters and that it is a 'historic opportunity for a new constitution and a Kurdish issue.'
The final declaration said politicians must not consume their energy with the past and must focus on pressing problems of the country, adding that there is a need for an atmosphere both in Parliament and beyond to discuss solutions for the problems.
The declaration also urged a commission that will be assigned to write the new constitution to heed to all legitimate demands regarding the freedoms."
The Kurdish Issue...
"Similarly, Erdoğan is expected to change the ultra nationalistic tone he used during his election campaign if the AK Party is sincere in turning its Kurdish opening process into a meaningful one." says Lale Kemal. In addition to this, Sahin Alpay focuses on the same issue: "In the political sphere the main vulnerability concerns the Kurdish problem -- that is, the recognition of Kurdish cultural and political rights, and putting an end to the nearly 30-year-old insurgency led by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). "
Here, looking at the Omer Taspinar's comments can be very helpful in order to understand Kurdish issue and its solutions:
"The political aspirations of Turkey's 15 to 20 million-strong Kurdish minority have reached unprecedented levels in the last few years. To be sure, the PKK insurgency is not as strong as it was in the 1990s. But Kurdish nationalism, as a political force, is alive and well across Turkey. Kurdish ethnic, cultural and political demands are fueled by a young and increasingly resentful generation of Kurds who are frustrated and vocal not only in Eastern Anatolia but also in Turkey's large western cities including İstanbul, Mersin, İzmir and Adana. The formative experience of the young Kurdish generation has been the PKK insurgency that began in the 1980s. Although most Turks and a large part of the international community consider the PKK a terrorist organization, most Turkish Kurds romanticize the PKK and its jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, who exerts considerable political influence behind bars.
Today, Kurdish political aspirations are thwarted by legal obstacles which are largely the remnants of Turkey's 1982 Constitution, written under military rule. The current situation of increased Kurdish expectations and limited political space for ethnic recognition does not bode well for Turkey. Raised expectations facing strict political restrictions often create a combustible mix. In 2009, in an attempt to address the root causes of the problem, the AKP launched a "democratic opening" process which involved a partial amnesty for PKK fighters. This was a step in the right direction. Yet, soon after the Habur border incident, where former PKK fighters were given a hero's welcome by the Kurdish population, the opening turned into an impasse. The AKP faced the worst case scenario: an angry Turkish majority greatly alarmed by Kurdish audacity.
Now that the elections are over, the most important question is whether the AKP will be able to change course and once again try to address Kurdish demands with the new constitution.
Two crucial steps in the drafting of the new constitution will go a long way in diffusing tension: (1) removing ethnic attributes from Turkish citizenship, and (2) making Turkish "the official" and not "the only recognized" language of Turkey. These constitutional changes can pave the way to other crucial legal reforms such as the right to bilingual education.
A more self-confident AKP could also broaden and deepen its former democratic opening by offering permission to Kurdish towns and villages to revert to their original names and allowing more room for local government and administrative decentralization. The party should know that only a more multicultural and less centralized Turkey will satisfy Kurdish demands.
In taking these crucial steps, two additional factors should help the AKP government to find the necessary courage and vision. First, the majority of Turkish Kurds no longer support either the formation of a separate state or the use of force by the PKK. Second, the idea of increased powers for local government, a main demand of many ethnic Kurds, is now supported by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's Republican People's Party (CHP). Under such circumstances the AKP should face no major problems in forging a parliamentary coalition with either the CHP or the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to support a new democratization initiative backed by a brand new constitution."
We will see in the next days that how the government will take an initiative in the Kurdish issue. As a parallel to JDP's approach to this issue, Turkey will pass from a very important test in the democratization process.
The foreign agenda items...
Sally McNamara and Ariel Cohen categorize the AKP's foreign policy agendas as so:
"Foreign Policy and U.S. Interests. With the second-largest military in NATO, Turkey has been a significant actor in many NATO operations and continues to stand alongside the U.S. in Afghanistan. However, Ankara's burgeoning closeness to Tehran and the AKP's hostility toward Israel undermine Turkey's reliability as a regional partner for the U.S. and Europe.
Afghanistan. Ankara was among a handful of NATO members that increased commitments in Afghanistan in response to President Barack Obama's request for additional resources in December 2009. Although Turkish troops are heavily concentrated in Kabul, Ankara has put the bulk of its resources into training the Afghan army and police, which the alliance has identified as a top priority. It has also complemented its police and army training teams with two civilian-led Provisional Reconstruction Teams. As a trusted partner in Afghanistan, it is important that Turkey continues to work closely with the U.S.-led coalition and maintain its strong support for the mission.
Missile Defense. NATO's 2010 Strategic Concept identifies comprehensive ballistic missile defense (BMD) as a core competency of the alliance. Turkey insisted that no one country be identified as a threat—which demonstrated that Ankara is too cozy with Tehran. It is unclear what specific role Turkey will play in either a NATO-wide BMD system or as a partner in the U.S.'s European Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA).
The European Union. The EU formally granted candidate status to Turkey in 1999, and membership negotiations began in 2005. However, progress has been painfully slow. France and Germany especially oppose full Turkish membership in the EU, proposing instead a privileged partnership between Ankara and Brussels—which Erdogan has dismissed as insulting. There is a pervasive sense in Ankara that the EU is negotiating in bad faith, and Turkish public backing for EU membership fell to just 47 percent in 2010. In a sign of growing confidence, Ankara's chief EU negotiator, Egeman Bagis¸, warned Brussels that the EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Europe.
Libya. Prior to the outbreak of violence in Libya, Prime Minister Erdogan was awarded the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. Erdogan refuses to renounce the award, even in light of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's horrific human rights abuses. Libya granted Turkey approximately $23 billion in construction contracts. Turkey has, however, supported the NATO mission in Libya, deploying six warships to enforce the arms embargo. Turkey also negotiated the release of four American journalists who were being held by Libyan authorities. Ankara continues to press for a diplomatic resolution of the Libyan crisis in opposition to the NATO allies.
The Middle East. Under Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's "zero problems with neighbors" policy, Turkey has strengthened its ties with several problematic actors in the Middle East:
• Under Syrian President Bashar el-Assad, whose regime has reportedly killed more than 1,100 opponents since March, Turkey and Syria have established close relations. In 2009, Ankara and Damascus signed a strategic cooperation agreement, conducted joint military exercises, and launched military industrial cooperation. They also introduced visa-free travel.
• Turkey's rapprochement with the Tehran theocracy saw Ankara partner with Brazil and vote against limited U.N. sanctions on Iran in October—sanctions which even Russia and China supported. Iran is becoming Turkey's leading oil supplier, and plans are afoot to triple the trade between the two countries.
Turkey's traditionally strong relationship with Israel has declined dramatically in recent years. The Turkish government-supported IHH Islamist organization is preparing to launch a second flotilla to Gaza despite the fact that the embargo is over, and this will only further inflame relations between the two countries. The AKP government has also continued to support Hamas, which Washington and Brussels classify as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Guidelines for the U.S.–Turkey Relationship. The U.S. should continue to cooperate with Ankara on issues such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and missile defense. However, Washington should also express its strong concerns to Ankara over the AKP's growing violations of political freedoms, as well as other contentious issues, including its rapprochement with Iran and its anti-Israeli/pro-Hamas policies. After the elections, Washington should tell Ankara that Turkey cannot consider itself a strategic ally of the U.S. while pursuing policies that undermine American and allied interests."
"The fact that Erdoğan kept the economy and foreign policy tsars in their positions is a strong signal that the performance of these ministers met his expectations in the previous term" says Abdullah Bozkurt, from Today's Zaman: "Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the architect of the zero-problems with neighbors policy, also kept his place, as expected. Though Davutoğlu failed on a number of foreign policy initiatives under his watch, as his 'strategic depth' vision was challenged, he nevertheless helped greatly in raising Turkey's profile in the region and the world. Davutoğlu, a non-stop workaholic diplomat, ushered Turkey into accepting a new role as mediator in the immediate neighborhood. He faces turmoil in the Middle East and a deadlocked normalization process with Armenia.
The newly created ministry dedicated exclusively to European Union Affairs is a strong message that the AK Party is determined to pursue the membership process for the next four years. Egemen Bağış, Turkey's pointman in negotiations with the EU, will lead the new ministry. EU affairs, previously handled by a state minister whose portfolio included dealing with the EU will now be directed by a high-profile ministry with its own bureaucracy and budget. Bağış knows key players in the EU and has established good rapport with his counterparts in European capitals".
Moreover, Omer Taspinar summarizes Turkey's foreign policy challenges so:
"This was probably because Turkish public opinion is overall satisfied with the more independent and self-confident approach pursued by the AKP government. Yet, Turkey's approaches to both the Middle East and the EU urgently need fine-tuning. The Arab Spring is rapidly changing the balance of power in the Middle East and is causing problems for Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's "zero-problems with neighbors" policy. After the emergence of new regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, the turmoil in Yemen and Bahrain, and civil war in Libya, now Syria is the latest Arab nation facing the rise of a people's movement.
Until recently, the Syrian-Turkish bilateral relationship was a remarkable story of a journey from enmity to friendship. It was also the cornerstone of Turkey's zero-problems strategy. At a time when a brutal crackdown is taking place in Syria and thousands of Syrian refugees are crossing the border with Turkey, this situation is putting much pressure on Turkey's shoulders. The events in Syria provide a crucial litmus test for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in terms of testing his proclaimed commitment to democratization in the region.
When one looks at the larger picture, the Arab Spring is a mixed blessing for Turkey. On the one hand, most Turks enjoy the fact that their country is referred to as a democratic model and source of inspiration in the region. On the other hand, it is also important to recognize that Turkey until recently used to fill a vacuum of strategic leadership in the Arab world. It was the dismal failure of Egyptian leadership in the region that was at the heart of the Arab predicament and the deep admiration of Turkey's growing soft power. With the Arab Spring and particularly Egypt's revolution, Cairo is now slowly re-emerging as the most likely candidate to fill the vacuum of strategic leadership in the Arab world."
"Naturally proud of himself, as a political leader who has managed to gain the support of half the nation, Erdoğan argued that he was the winner of the elections not only in Turkey but in Europe as well. The pundits immediately juxtaposed these statements with the prime minister's decision to establish a new ministry responsible for EU affairs, and they got excited about a possible revival in Turkish-EU relations" says Mustafa Kutlay. "Many commentators in the Western media and Turkish press put forward fresh ideas to 'reset' Turkish-EU relations."
In addition to this, according to Javier Solana, "for Europe, the 'Arab Spring' should refocus attention on an issue largely ignored in recent months: the benefits of Turkey's full membership in the European Union."
"With Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now elected to another term as Turkey's prime minister, and with Poland, a country well acquainted with the importance of Europe's strategic position in the world, assuming the EU presidency at the end of the month, now is a time for the Union and Turkey to "reset" their negotiations over Turkish membership." he said. "And, if Europe is to become an active global player, rather than a museum, it needs the fresh perspective and energy of the people of Turkey... Turkey and the EU need each other. The EU now accounts for 75 percent of foreign investment in Turkey and roughly half its exports and inward tourism. Likewise, Europe's energy security depends on cooperation with Turkey on transit of oil and natural gas from Central Asia and the Middle East."
"The only loser of these elections is the EU because the European leaders turned their back on the most powerful, wealthiest and most democratic country in the greater Middle East at a time when they were hopeful that the consequences of the Arab Spring would create a new setting they desire." says Markar Esayan. He focuses on the Turkish model for Arab Spring: "It is no coincidence that the articles by Straw and Solana make a connection between the Arab Spring and Turkey. This is an attitude different from the traditional European stance suggesting that Turkey, a Muslim country with some major problems, should be supported as a model for the 'primitive' Arabs."
"As you have observed, Turkey has made huge progress despite internal obstacles, coup attempts and Ergenekon threats. What needs to be done from now on is to stay on track in order to complete the reform process that would honor these successes. Erdoğan knows this best. I am really excited that we will make the first popular constitution over the next four years. Turkey now has a historic responsibility to resolve the Kurdish issue. Turkey is unintentionally making the entire world experience a revolution that should be defined as the 1789 of the Middle East." he concluded his comments.
In this part, as a last comment, we want to look at Amanda Paul's sentences:
"Because the EU continues to create unnecessary obstacles or is unable to give Turkey a clear membership perspective, the leverage that it now has on Turkey is almost zero, including in the reform process. This lack of commitment from the EU simply allows Turkey to cherry pick at the reforms it wants to do.
The EU's approach towards Turkey has no logic. On the one hand you have a blatant rejection of the very notion of Turkish membership, even though the EU has offered Turkey this very thing, while at the same time the EU is practically begging Turkey to save the situation in Syria. At an EU foreign ministers' meeting last week it was clear that the EU was pinning all its hopes on Turkey helping to stop the violence in Syria, with foreign ministers stating they hoped Turkey would be able to play a big role in curbing the violence in Syria stating 'the EU acknowledges the efforts by Turkey ... on the different aspects of the crisis, in particular the humanitarian aspects and will work with them to address the situation in Syria.' While Greeks and Greek Cypriots tried to block the statement they were -- for once -- overruled. It's a pity the EU could not take such a pragmatic approach to other aspects of its relations with Turkey."
Turkey-US relations and the Turkish model in the "new" Middle East...
Although Ali H. Aslan airs a grievance about America's approach against Turkey and says that "the US must wholeheartedly respect and trust in the Turkish nation's political and social choices. An outlook on Turkey that is influenced by 'Old Turkey's' fears, suspicions and prejudices will only lead to a dead end. Let the dying 'Old Turkey' go peacefully and engage with the rising 'New Turkey' more effectively to have better leverage in the future."; according to the news of Today's Zaman, "Turkey emerges from its election as a stronger partner for the United States -- both because [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan won a strong mandate for continued rule and because voters denied him and his government untrammeled powers," Ross Wilson, director of the Washington-based Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and former US ambassador to Turkey, said in an article posted on the website of the Atlantic Council earlier this week.
He stressed that US and Turkish interests coincide in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the Arab Spring, energy, terrorism and missile defense and "even on Iran -- the now patched-over rupture in 2010 notwithstanding."
"A confident, democratic Turkey led by a strong government that just secured a convincing -- but not too large -- electoral mandate will remain a vital partner in a deeply troubled region," Wilson concluded, referring to the fact that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won a strong mandate from the people of Turkey for the third consecutive term.
"The United States has a vital interest in the consolidation of a robust democratic anchor in the Middle East and northern Africa. Constitutional reform is an important element in this process. Even regardless of the outcome of constitutional reform, Turkey will be an important factor shaping the future of the region." say Michael Werz, Caroline Wadhams, Matthew Duss, Sarah Margon. "As the Obama administration seeks to partner with the democratization movements in the Middle East and North Africa, the United States will increasingly benefit from a constructive Turkish foreign policy in the region. In 2009, President Obama spoke of forging a 'model partnership' with Turkey. This partnership was to exemplify the potential for bilateral ties to thrive based on shared principles and goals. Today this partnership is more vital than ever as the United States and Turkey confront a shared set of challenges and opportunities across the region... As Turkey and the United States increasingly find themselves burdened with the same responsibilities and complex realities in the region, the importance of close cooperation become ever more apparent."
On the other hand, according to George Friedman, "by no means has Turkey emerged as a mature power. Its handling of events in Syria and other countries — consisting mostly of rhetoric — shows that it is has yet to assume a position to influence, let alone manage, events on its periphery. But it is still early in the game. We are now at a point where the old foundation has weakened and a new one is proving difficult to construct. The election results indicate that the process is still under way without becoming more radical and without slowing down. The powers that had strong relationships with Turkey no longer have them and wonder why. Turkey does not understand why it is feared and why the most ominous assumptions are being made, domestically and in other countries, about its government's motives. None of this should be a surprise. History is like that."
Actually, the results of Turkish general elections are important not only in terms of domestic developments but also in terms of international developments. As we know, in the last process, Turkey is perceived as a role-model in the Middle East. And because of this reality, global powers followed these elections very closely.
According to M K Bhadrakumar, Erdogan is well-placed to plant an iron signpost for the road that the Muslim Brotherhood can take in Egypt or Jordan; what quintessentially Shi'ite empowerment can mean within a democratic framework in Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Bahrain without the Muslim psyche having to tear itself apart; how despite Arabism, the Middle East can still pull on excellently well with the West, as Erdogan indeed is doing, despite being an Islamist and a proud Turk.
"There is one narrative that puts the role of the military at the center of all things Turkish and another discourse that focuses on the evolution of political Islam under a democratic system." says Omer Taspinar about the Turkey's role-model issue. "There is of course an obvious paradox in this duality of the Turkish model. How can Turkey provide a model for both those who focus on the role of an activist military and those who hope to see the emergence of a moderate political Islam movement?"
According to him, there are five different aspects of the Turkish model:
"First of all, there is a Turkish state tradition of political supremacy over Islam that goes back to Ottoman times. In many ways, the Ottoman state was based on political supremacy over Islam. A body of law promulgated by the sultan, known as "kanun," was enacted outside the realm of Shariah and had no direct Islamic justification. After the emergence of the modern Turkish Republic under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the staunchly secularist military continued this tradition of political supremacy over Islam. Political Islam, in its Turkish form, had to respect the red lines of Turkish secularism or suffer the consequences. In that sense, the moderation of Turkish political Islam was partly dictated by the presence of a strong secular state and an interventionist military. Today, the AKP is the fourth reincarnation of political Islam in Turkey. Not surprisingly, it follows much more moderate policies than its predecessors.
The second element of the Turkish model is early democratization with the transition to multiparty politics in 1946. Democracy is often the best antidote to political Islam. In the absence of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, free political parties and free elections, the mosques and politicized Islam become the only outlets for dissent. Islam, in such an authoritarian context, becomes the only language of resistance against tyranny and the solution to everything. Unsurprisingly, "Islam is the solution" is the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful Islamic movement in the Arab world.
The third factor is economic success. Economic growth and the emergence of a middle class that benefited from globalization, capitalism and democratic openings differentiate Turkey from the autocratic Middle East.
The fourth element of the Turkish model is a healthy dose of Sufism. This brings a social, cultural and mystical dimension to Turkish Islam at the expense of a radical political agenda. The fact that Turkey's most powerful religious civil society movement is more interested in education, media and interfaith dialogue is a case in point.
And finally, as the fifth factor one must add Turkey's EU vocation, which has worked as the engine of democratic reforms in the last decade. In the final analysis, one can conclude that none of these five elements defining the Turkish model are easily applicable to the Arab world. This is why Turkey remains sui generis."
"What emerges overall is this American led reluctance to accept Turkey as an independent regional force in the Middle East that has achieved enormous influence in recent years by relying on its own brand of soft power diplomacy." writes Richard Falk. "A dramatic indicator of this influence is the great popularity of Erdogan throughout the region, including among the youth who brought about the uprisings against authoritarian rule throughout the Arab world. It is an encouraging sign of the times that these new Arab champions of democracy are coming to Ankara and Istanbul, not Washington, Tel Aviv, or Paris, for guidance and inspiration."
Concerning this issue, "the tendency to affix the label 'new' to a region or phenomenon is actually nothing but a manifestation of the dislike felt for its existing state." says Bulent Kenes. "For instance, the term, 'New Turkey,' which has seen frequent use recently, is indicative not only of an act of breaking off from a suffocating atmosphere created by an old regime, but also of dislike for the old system, as well as an enthusiasm and craving for innovation and change. In the same vein, the discontent with the former state of the Republican People's Party (CHP), a party experiencing both change and instability simultaneously, has urged its leaders to redefine it as the 'New CHP'."
According to him, "New Turkey," which is trying not only to consolidate its democratic achievements and freedoms gained after serious struggles but also to get used to the comforts of these achievements, is not entitled to pursue pragmatic policies with a narrow vision while a brand-new Middle East is in the making. The dignified and noble role Turkey should play in the rebuilding of the "New Middle East" is to try to make sure that administrations resonate up to the highest point with their people. Turkey must use all possibilities and facilities offered by its "soft power" that has given it all the power and influence it currently has in international politics so that the archaic Baathist minority rule that oppresses Syria goes away and the country attains a democratic, pluralistic and transparent regime based on fair representation.
On the other hand, as a different perspective, "Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received 49.9 percent electoral support going into a third term in government, partly because of a booming Turkish economy but also for his regional leadership in the Middle East, which has been thrown into upheaval in recent revolutions." says James Lewis. "The emergence of Turkey can help achieve regional policy goals for peace and economic growth and will offset the rising influence of Iran and radicalism in the region."
"Turkey is a secular voice, especially when compared to Khomeini's Iran. Whereas Turkey joins the global community functioning as a diplomatic and cultural ambassador, Iran intentionally infuriates other leaders." he stressed. "With economic and diplomatic power, Turkey will take a leadership role if it can position itself to mediate the Israel-Palestinian peace process."
"It can fill Egypt's void and counterbalance Iran. Turkey has already loosened visa restrictions and suggested a regional Schengen to its Middle East neighbors, and bilateral trade increases between Turkey and Lebanon have yielded millions in increased activity," he concluded his comments.
Actually, on James Lewis's words should be thought very carefully because his sentences explain the actual plan for Turkey in the Middle East and the approval of this plan from world's superpowers. It means that superpowers reproduce their powers through their "moderate" and "inside" partners. This process can/will serve to imperialism.
Here, giving an ear to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya will be very effective for us in order to understand the global plans on Turkey and Turkey's serving to this plan consciously or unconsciously:
"There is one other important player that must be talked about. This player is Turkey. Washington and the E.U. have pushed Turkey to be more active in the Arab World. This has blossomed through Ankara's neo-Ottomanism policy. This is why Turkey has been posturing itself as a champion of Palestine and launched an Arabic-language channel like Iran and Russia.
Ankara, however, has been playing an ominous role. Turkey is a partner in the NATO war on Libya. The position of the Turkish government has become clear with its betrayal of Tripoli. Ankara has also been working with Qatar to corner the Syrian regime. The Turkish government has been pressuring Damascus to change its policies to please Washington and appears to possibly even have a role in the protests inside Syria with the Al-Sauds, the Hariri minority camp in Lebanon, and Qatar. Turkey is even hosting opposition meetings and providing them support.
Turkey is viewed in Washington and Brussels as the key to bringing the Iranians and the Arabs into line. The Turkish government has been parading itself as a member of the Resistance Bloc with the endorsement of Iran and Syria. U.S strategists project that it will be Turkey which domesticates Iran and Syria for Washington. Turkey also serves as a means of integrating the Arab and Iranian economies with the economy of the European Union. In this regard Ankara has been pushing for a free-trade zone in Southwest Asia and getting the Iranians and Syrians to open up their economies to it.
In reality, the Turkish government has not only been deepening its economic ties with Tehran and Damascus, but has also been working to eclipse Iranian influence. Ankara has tried to wedge itself between Iran and Syria and to challenge Iranian influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Turkey also tried to establish a triple entente between itself, Syria, and Qatar to push Syria away from Tehran. This is why Turkey has been very active vocally against Israel, but in reality has maintained its alliance and military deals with Tel Aviv. Inside Turkey itself, however, there is also an internal struggle for power that could one day ignite into a civil war with multiple players."
The victory of Justice and Development Party in Turkey is seen as a beginning term of civil authority's success completely. This is true that it was not possible to talk about the freedom of speech or any other freedoms in Turkey ten years ago. Today, if many military generals can put on trial, it is the victory of demilitarization. But, if this process was so easy, why the other governments were not successful? This question is important...
In my opinion, as Huseyin Gulerce says, "the conservatives have adopted the idea of integrating with the world by remaining adherent to our values. To this end, agreeing on universal humanistic values by making reference to love, dialogue and compromise was set as the ultimate goal. This is a result of properly reading this age."
Although he sees this transformation as a positive step, I do not agree with him because in the new era, global political and military powers prefer to find local allies in the regions. These allies can be liberal, religious or socialist; it does not matter... The main problem is that whether these allies conform with superpowers or not...
I think that we should focus on the position of Turkey in the Middle East again and again. Powers justifies themselves through suitable oppositions in a new era and in this way, they reproduces their powers again and again. In this time, opposition groups or states can think that they are becoming a more independent every passing day. Talking about Turkey requires thinking this process very carefully. For example, what does the resignation of generals en masse mean for Turkey's future? This question deserves to be questioned. And, we will focus on this issue in the next analysis.
Dr Naeemur Rahman Khaled shares part II of his last moments with his father, Dr Motiur Rahman Nizami
Over the next few days Worldbulletin will publish the account of the last moments of Mawlana Motiur Rahman Nizami, written by his second eldest son Dr. Naeemur Rahman Khaled. Today is part one of that account
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