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In a news item you may have missed beside everything else going on this month, over 300,000 people attended a rally in Ankara, the capitol of Turkey, on April 14. With Turkey's population at 71 million according to the CIA World Factbook, this protest would be equivalent in scale to over a million people protesting in the United States. What ideals could bring so much of a nation together? What were these people in Ankara demonstrating for?

They rallied for secularism.

The rally in Ankara was also a rally against a person who the crowd saw as an enemy of secularism, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has a history of supporting Sharia and was once jailed for giving a speech in which he declared "the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers". While considering the strength of the protest, consider also that Erdogan was elected to the position of Prime Minister with his history already well known.

Turkey, with a secular government, is a Muslim-majority nation almost to the exception of other faiths. Both secularists and fundamentalists can claim heritage in Turkey's past. Before the first World War, what is now Turkey had been the center of Islamic authority for four hundred years. The Ottoman Caliphate which ruled the Middle East was one of the ultimate victims of that war. Under the leadership of Mustafa Ataturk, a military officer known for his victory at Gallipoli, Turkey underwent a cultural revolution similar in scale to that of Japan during the Meiji era. The reforms pushed by Ataturk replaced Sharia with a Western-style civil law, Latinized the language, granted equal rights to women, and guided the people towards a European lifestyle.

Erdogan's rise to power might appear to be a symptom of a worldwide rise in Islamic fundamentalism, but that would be an exaggeration. The situation for his election was already in place. There have been several past Islamist prime ministers of Turkey, a few of whom were extreme enough to have been overthrown by coups d'etat of the secularist armed forces. In the 1990s, the religiously-tinged Welfare Party was disbanded by court order and its leader, former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, was sentenced to a year in jail for inciting religious hatred. Still, it must be noted that Erdogan's rise to power is taking place during a period of heightening violence, heightening rhetoric, and divisions rather than neighbourliness between the West and the world of Islam. This will affect the perceptions of the various people and nations for whom Turkey and this culture clash are an interest.

In particular, Turkey's church-and-state situation is going to be considered in Turkey's admission into the European Union. Turkey has been trying to join the European Union and its forerunner organizations, such as the European Economic Community, since the Ankara Agreement in the 1960s This sitution is only one of factors against Turkey's admission. Obviously, there are racial and cultural reasons for keeping Turkey out. Accepting Turkey is seen by the European right as more of an expansion of Asia into Europe than of Europe into Asia. In addition, the fact that Turkey has had a military coup every fifteen years or so raises questions as to the future stability of the nation, as does the off-and-on Kurdish rebellion in Turkey's southeast.

Turkey's adherence to European and Enlightenment values is also called into question by the refusal to admit to the Ottoman government's responsibility for massacring ethnic Armenains to put down a revolt during the 1910s. It is against the law to mention it, as doing so is sometimes prosecuted as insulting the nation. This is disturbingly similar to the situation in the neighbouring human-rights hellhole of Syria, where a civil rights activist was recently sentenced to five years in prison for weakening national morale.

One more strike against Turkey is not any action of the government, but the condition of the people. The worldwide rise of violent extremism in the name of Islam is not bypassing Turkey. This threatens a future of tyrannic misbehaviour bubbling up from the bottom, from the people, rather than coming down from the top. One recent example of this happening already is the brutal killing of three Christian missionaries by a small gang that killed them because they believed it was their duty as Muslims to do so. The state quickly found and cracked down on the group, but if that kind of idea spreads, it can grow beyond the ability of the secular state to control it.

The tensions between secularism and religion have heightened in the past few days as Turkey's parliament begins to choose a President to replace Ahmet Sezer, the former high court justice whose term expires this year. Under the rules, a majority of votes in Parliament would be enough if the first two votes fail to produce a two-thirds majority. Prime Minister Erdogan's recently formed Islamic party, the Justice and Development Party, has a majority in Parliament and has chosen party co-founder and current Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, for the position. Under the circumstances, Gul's victory is almost certain. This has brought a worrying response from the Turkish armed forces. It is a bad enough sign that there is a response from the army in a matter of government, and it is worse that the response is barely veiled hostility to Gul's nomination. Naturally, the majority party is not happy about it.

We should keep an eye on Turkey for the next few years. If the Justice and Development Party survives November's upcoming Parliamentary elections, we might see if the concern about fundamentalist government is validated or if it is just scaremongering by Erdogan's and Gul's political opponents. Either case can affect Turkey's position in the world and the future of Middle East politics.

Originally posted to Cecrops Tangaroa on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 12:12 PM PDT.


Where will Turkey be in 20 years?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Other: not in the EU, not an Islamic state, (6+ / 0-)

    military once again rules Turkey under the guise of upholding Ataturk's principles.

  •  Thoughts on the future of Turkey? (19+ / 0-)
    Some things to think about:

    If Turkey becomes less secular, will that make it more vulnerable to becoming a fundamentalist state? If so, what should the US's policy be? How should Europe react? The rest of the world? Will Turkey's position in international relations migrate away from its current pro-Western stance, or is it more likely to stay the same? Should Turkey's military be involved at all, and under what circumstances?

    Update: The Scotsman is reporting one million protesters in Istanbul today. That is probably an exaggeration by the organizers, but it seems safe to say that today's protest is as large as the one that started this diary.

    •  Turkey will never give up on Ataturk's reforms (12+ / 0-)

      the problem is the extreme nature some of his adherents have taken with the growing nationalist movement that has adopted an "us and them" philosophy vis-a-vis the Kurds and Armenians as well as the Islamists.

      In between and infiltrated by the nationalists is their very powerful military.  They will not allow Ataturk's secular reforms to be overturned.  They will overturn any government that tries to do so.

      A disclaimer: I love Turkey (the country, not the bird); absolutely am in love with the country, the people, the history, the geography and their commitment to separation of the church and state.  

      I also find their commitment to education, the funding they're pouring into their universities, to be encouraging.  The way so many protested against the killing of the journalist that had published the story about the Armenian genocide.  

      But I'm also worried for a country that holds yearly nationalist gatherings by a growing group of people that have made Mein Kampf a best seller there, that holds the Kurds in contempt and treats them accordingly. That has let the situation with Cyprus drag on without a resolution for too long.  That has allowed the country to become a conduit for Afghani drugs (and on and on)...

      Turkey has a long way to go before they'll get into the EU.  This crisis, if the military moves against the government, will likely prolong that process.  The same if they end up fighting more Kurds than the PKK.  But there are powerful forces in Turkey committed to getting the country into the EU and they're a very patient group.  

      But this crisis is also an opportunity.  If the secularists win through sheer people power, even if Gul becomes president, it's he'll likely be held to protecting the secular standard by their numbers, which makes it, potentially, a very interesting example to the rest of the Muslim world.

      Have you read about the Kurds and the Zoroastrians yet?

      by jhritz on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 12:24:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  FWIW: More Balkans East than Middle East North (10+ / 0-)

        That is how I tend to view Turkey. Culturally and politically it is more like the eastern outpost of the Balkans than it is a close relation to the Gulf nations.

        I tend to see a lot of Turkey's history and culture as being cut from the same type of passionate, 'hill country' culture as the Balkans. In fact, the label 'Turk' was adopted by Ataturk precisely because it had a slightly hillbilly connotation in the pre-WWI Ottoman Empire.

        In that context, any history prior to 1950 has to be viewed through two prisms:

        • These are often very rugged regions. People tended to live in small villages or medium-sized towns, where they were surprisingly isolated from their neighbor by our modern standard. Poor roads and primitive conditions meant that all politics was local - walking to the next village could take a day or more. If everyone in your village and valley was [Turk|Armenian|Kurd|Slav|Greek], it was easy to assume that your [religion|tribe|language] ruled the whole country. Of course the folks in the next valley might see it totally differently. Even when historians have found that a region was heavily mixed, the inhabitants often had little practical consciousness  of that.
        • History is everything in that part of the world - and history goes back a long, long, long way. Moreover, it is a very fine-grained and local history. Think Appalachia hill clans.

        To make matters worse, atrocities and casual regional dismemberments were a way of life for thousands of years.

        Armenians remember the ethnic cleansing and forced deportations. The Greeks remember having to flee across the Aegean from Izmir to escape Ataturk's advancing army. My grandmother remembered living in a cave for a year after her family and the rest of the Turks were forced to flee her ancestral home near what is now Salonica. And on ... and on ... and on ... all the way back for 5 or 6 thousand years.

        Turks also remember the willingness of the post-WWI European mapmakers to slice and dice their territory and colonies with the same insight and delicacy that they applied to the creation of Iraq. Turks' gratitude to Ataturk for preventing that dissection helps explain a large part of his legacy of Turkish nationalism.

        Some of these events are not even that ancient. It is less than two decades since the then-communist Bulgarians (now in the EU) clamped down on Turks living inside Bulgaria and forced several hundred thousand refugees to flee to Turkey.

        It is less than 15 years since Turkey was faced with half a million Kurdish refugees that suddenly fled north from Iraq in the aftermath of Gulf War I. Turkey initially tried to resist this flood but failed. The refugees crossed and were trapped in one of the most inhospitable and inaccessible areas of Turkey - resulting in a humanitarian crisis that provoked worldwide response.

        Yet despite this immensely deep and often painful history, modern Turkey has moved much farther toward adoption of Western cultures and values than any other Islamic country. More importantly, this movement is being driven by the Turks themselves. They WANT to join the EU and fit into Western culture - and they are trying very, very hard.

        Bottom line: Everyone who judges Turkey will have to decide for themselves whether the glass is half full or half empty. IMHO, there has been so much progress over the past century that it would be a shame to take the half empty perspective.

        -2.38 -4.87: Maturity - Doing what you know is right even though you were told to do it.

        by grapes on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 01:35:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great post, grapes (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alain2112, grapes, KenBee

          what an interesting and well thought out analysis.  

          I would add that their early history does impact all sides there.  When you look at the fact the Ionian Greece was western Turkey, that philosophy began in Miletus with Thales, that Croesus ruled in Sardis, that the Halys River was the border between the Medes and the Lydians, that Cilicia was the source of all the minerals for the Iron age in the region, that St. Paul crossed the Cilician Gates on his way to spread the word (I am a Jew from Tarsus), that the Islam conquered Byzantium...

          That's Greeks, indigenous Turks (neo-Hittite), Kurds (Medes), Armenians (Cilicians), Christians, Islam and Jews...

          There's a reason it's called the crossroads of the world.

          Great post, grapes.  I loved reading it.

          Have you read about the Kurds and the Zoroastrians yet?

          by jhritz on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:01:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  how might the pkk react to another coup? (0+ / 0-)

      is another question we should consider.

  •  Very informative diary; (7+ / 0-)

    IMO Turkey's status will rely on its response to the Kurds' attempt to form a Kurdish nation-state.

    "One way or another, this darkness got to give"

    by wozzle on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 12:17:30 PM PDT

  •  What about Turkey's harassment of the Orthodox (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    patriarchate in Istanbul? The Turkish government is really an equal-opportunity offender as far as religious groups go. It harasses the Greek and Armenian Patriarchates and the Jews as well. In 1922 there were over 200,000 Greek Orthodox living in Turkey, today there are less than 2000.

    In the atmosphere of secularism that was supposed to provide a sanctuary for religious minorities under the Lausanne Treaty and which has abjectly failed to do so, one wonders if an Islamist-dominated government would really prove to be any worse.

    •  They would (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tigerdog, KenBee, willb48

      At least, with the secular laws, there is redress.  Doesn't mean all the judges and police have gotten the memo, but the laws are there.

      Can't say the same for Sharia law, especially where women and "infidels" are concerned.

      Though, in both cases, the laws aren't the problem.  It's the people who do or don't enforce them.

      All the same, separation of church and state is, imo, the better way to go.

      Have you read about the Kurds and the Zoroastrians yet?

      by jhritz on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 12:29:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To be fair their laws also harass devout Muslims (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cecrops Tangaroa, KenBee

      Turkey has laws against Muslim women wearing headscarves in all schools, universities, and government offices.  Those suspected of Islamic fundamentalism are kicked out of the military and government offices.  No Muslim schooling before high school level is allowed.

      I'm not sure if such laws against Muslims would ever be allowed in the United States, for example.  

      So they really are an equal opportunity offender towards all religions, including Islam.

    •  The Jews? (6+ / 0-)

      Not only did the Ottomans take in the Sephardic Jews when the Catholics expelled them from Spain, they and other Jews have lived safely there for centuries.  When was in Istanbul in the early 90s I remember seeing a big banner strung across a main street in one of the old neighborhoods proclaming a Jewish celebration of "500 years of peaceful co-existence".  Ataturk actually invited prominent German Jewish professors to settle in Turkey in 1933, and the Turkish ambassadors succeeded in saving Turkish Jews from Nazi-invaded countries. Where is the bad history there?

      "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

      by sarac on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 01:51:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very true. I saw huge numbers of Israeli tourists (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bluewolverine, KenBee, jhritz

        on a recent trip to Turkey.  Our hotel even had an Israeli flag waving out front. (Along with German, British, Dutch flags to represent the nations they got the most tourists from.)

        •  Turkey and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Israel have a military alliance.  The Kurds and Israel are allied, as well; they have been since they were the Medes (2600 years ago).  There's not an historical tradition of anti-Semitism, but it's strongly present in some of the nationalist and extreme-Islamic groups (Mien Kampf has been a best seller in Turkey the last few years).

          Separation of church and state benefits everyone.  It's how people interpret or do/don't enforce laws that become the problem.  The danger of ultra-nationalism and extremist religions are two sides of the same dangerous coin everywhere.

          Have you read about the Kurds and the Zoroastrians yet?

          by jhritz on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:29:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That tired old line (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        about how great the Ottomans were to the Jews is completely worn out and irrelevant. The Ottomans have been out of power for almost 100 years and Ataturk, for all his claims to the contrary, was a rabid Turkish nationalist who regarded the Ottoman Empire's coddling of its religious minorities as one of the major reasons for its demise. He was determined not to repeat the same mistake.

        The job of Turkish ambassadors is to save Turks, regardless of their religion. I don't see why them saving Turkish Jews from extermination in occupied Europe warrants them any heroic treatment. That is, after all, the job of an ambassador. And Turkey took in no Jews fleeing Europe during WWII and actually turned away more than one boat loaded with Jewish refugees.

        The Turkish government did find time, however, to impose a special tax on non-Muslims during the war which served to decimate the non-Muslim population.

        The Turkish Jewish population used to number more than 100,000 and at last count it was down to around 10,000. I assure you they didn't leave because they didn't like the weather.

        •  To my knowledge, most Jews left to move to nearby (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Israel when it was created.  Not to say that an extra tax may not have been a reason, but I think the main reason was they wanted to help and be a part of the Jewish state of Israel.

          •  I concede (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that was probably part of the reason.

            The point I'm making is that life for ethnic and religious minorities in Turkey is made pretty uncomfortable.

            My graduate thesis was on the Greek community and I saw a very sad portrait of total devastation, of state-sanctioned discrimination and pogroms, churches vandalized, Greek schools closed, citizenship revoked and properties stolen. It's a shameful period in Turkish history and one which is glossed over when people talk about the supposed Turkish respect for religions other than Islam, although as I've pointed out the issue isn't Islam it's unfettered Turkish Nationalism - which the military views as the glue that holds Turkey together.

            •  All of that is true (0+ / 0-)

              but what is also true is that a lot of mixed communities have lived peacefully together for a very long time.  And that has been the goal of secularism that a lot of Turks are still fighting for, even in the face of a lot of divisiveness, bigotry, and government corruption (sound familiar?).  They are a very mixed bag just as we are, and the liberals there deserve our support, just as we don't want our administration and the worst of our history to be all the world sees of us.

              "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

              by sarac on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 03:24:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Not to say that you don't make valid points.. (0+ / 0-)

              But during those years, Greece didn't treat its Turkish minority too kindly either.  Over half a million Turks were deported to Turkey, Ottoman churches were shut down, and huge numbers of Turkish civilians were killed by the Greek army when they invaded Turkey after WWI.

              It's a testament to both nations that they currently have rather decent relations despite so much historical animosity.  On my recent visit to Turkey, several 20-something Turks told me the new "fashionable" thing to do was to marry Greek.  I almost got to go to a Greek-Turkish wedding, but my flight was leaving two days too soon.

              •  (Oops, I meant Ottoman mosques, not churches) (0+ / 0-)
              •  That's true (0+ / 0-)

                But Greece's Turkish population in Thrace has remained at the same level - 120,000 - while Turkey's Greek population has been destroyed, reduced by 98%.

                •  But shouldn't it have increased since WWI... (0+ / 0-)

                  due to population growth?  I don't know about Thrace specifically, but the overall Turkish population in Greece sharply dropped following WWI due to the deportations of half a million Tuks.  (As did the Greek population of Turkey where about a million Greeks were deported.  Both nations basically did a forced exhange of populations)  

                  The number of Turks in Greece may now be increasing again due to the much higher birthrates of Turks (vs. the Greeks who alas have birthrates below replacement level.)

                  •  Net migration has kept it (0+ / 0-)

                    at the same level since the Lausanne Treaty was signed. Unfortunately for the ethnic Greeks in Turkey their migration rate reduced their population to the level I stated. In violation of the Lausanne Treaty Turkey harassed them, banning ethnic Greeks from positions as doctors or attorneys or pharmacists and then came the riots in the 50's and then finally - the news that dual passport holders would no longer be allowed and those holding a Greek passport must leave - which led to the final outflow of migration and reduced the community to the small grouping it is today.

                    And yes - the Turkish birthrate in Thrace is much higher than that of the Greek population as a whole.

                    I'm pleased you know about the population exchanges, which were the subject of my graduate thesis. I traveled to Greece and Turkey to do research and the subject remains close to my heart.

          •  And the population (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            currently in Turkey is over 17 according to the Jewish Virtual Library, and 25,000 according to The Guardian(concerning the alarm at the bestselling status of Mein Kampf in 2005, which was certainly for real - though consider whether we've had any scary bestsellers in recent years).

            But yes, I think a lot of Jews around the world would have moved to Israel if it was almost close enough to row over to...

            "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

            by sarac on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 03:19:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  And one million Turks did rally today in Istanbul (7+ / 0-)

    Just saw this on ABC news:

    "One Million rally for secularism in Turkey"

  •  Nice diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarac, tigerdog, KenBee

    What contrasts!

    Included in this balancing act is recent support of Israel, too.

    Within recent history with the Greeks, the Armenians, the Kurds, Turkey has shown it is under stress constantly from regional forces that tear away from all directions. The impact of religious fanaticism seems to be a fixed part of the culture, always being one step away from imposing bedlam.

    I hope you are correct that these influences are an exaggeration.

    I find it amazing that there hasn't been more serious disruptions within the country. The model of governance they have is probably the most benign version of non-democracy one can have: this model could have worked in Iraq, perhaps if Hussein had been forced out of power without military force.

    It's still a work in progress, and the future is uncertain.

    Meanwhile, I'm worried about Pakistan which has the potential for even more serious trouble.

  •  A really good diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarac, KenBee, jhritz

    From what I read and see on TV the Islamic Fundamentalists are on rise in most Islamic countries and among Islamic populations living in the west. So why would not Turkey experience the same trend?  This is a bad development.  I do not like seeing military overthrow duly elected gov't, but I don't want to see the Fundamentalists take over Turkey. Incidentally, it was Turkey in 1923 that got rid of the Caliphate, something the radical islamists keep harping on.

    •  what to choose...... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      really. No good choices here.

      A fact not stressed enough is that the Islamists have power because the electorate so chooses in free, democratic elections.

      Are we allowed to stray away from our support for democracy just because the side that won is not to our liking?

      This must be the philosophical questions we should debate.

      "As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities." Voltaire

      by Euroliberal on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:56:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I think it was in Algeria where (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shane Hensinger

        the Islamists won national election--may 10-15 years ago--and the military did not let the newly elected gov't take power.  There ensued bloody rebellion by the Islamists.  Also Turkey is member of NATO.

        My own view is we are in war with radical islamists world-wide, which will go on for years.  So I hope Turkey secularists win the day.

  •  The Army (3+ / 0-)

    Equally interesting to the implicit threat of Army intervention - to me at least - is the EU's rejectionof the Army's "offer" to set things right if things get too religions:

    Olli Rehn, the European Union enlargement commissioner, who has been a keen supporter of Ankara's eventual accession to the bloc, warned the military to stay out of politics, saying the election was a 'test case' for the Turkish military's respect for democracy.

    Rehn issued the salvo after Turkey's general staff weighed in on the dispute, saying they would not flinch at intervention if it meant upholding the Muslim state's cherished secular values

    And let's not forget our history - the Army has a bit of a history of taking control of the country when the government forgets its secularism.

    As for Turkey's EU prospects, this new development doesn't seem to bode well, regardless of how it turns out. If the country takes a turn towards Islam, it will be seen as movement farther away from the core Enlightenment values of the EU, and will provide more ammunition for the Euroskeptics that the admission of Turkey would really be opening the EU up to the Mid-East. If the Army comes back and kicks the government out to bring back secularism, then it will be another sign that the Turks don't really get the whole "democracy" thing, and are incapable of maintaining the instruments of democracy.

    And then there's also the matter of the Kurds (their continued persecution and Turkey's threats to stop - by force - any declaration of an independent Kurdistan in the region), and of freedom of expressions, with a law (Article 301) which states:

    1 - Public denigration of Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and three years.

    2 - Public denigration of the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial institutions of the State, the military or security structures shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years.

    3 - In cases where denigration of Turkishness is committed by a Turkish citizen in another country the punishment shall be increased by one third.

    4 - Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime.

    "The NSA offers exciting work for recent graduates in computer science. Pick up the phone, call your mom, and ask for an application."

    by Scipio on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:08:12 PM PDT

    •  The dumb (and good) thing with Article 301.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is that nobody has actually gone to jail for it.  

      All the cases are either thrown out by judges, or any given sentences are suspended by them.  Since Turkey has no pre-trial screening process, any nutty prosecutor can bring someone to trial.  

      Thankfully the judges so far have made sure no one's actually been imprisoned.  All in all, Article 301 is  completely useless except for making Turkey look foolish to the EU, so hopefully they'll get rid of it soon.

    •  EU also here to admonish the US (0+ / 0-)

      about extraordinary rendition on 4/17/07. (No transcript yet at the
         They must have been shocked at Rohrabacher's and Scheuer's behavior and testimony.The US sure can't say anything to the EU about what to do about Turkey.
         Thanks for such a well written diary and such informed comments.

  •  very interesting perspective. thanks n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by MarketTrustee on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:25:40 PM PDT

  •  very well done, this is an important issue that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    should be followed.

    "Marge, it takes two to lie, one to lie and one to listen." Homer J. Simpson

    by Grover StL on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:51:24 PM PDT

  •  'U.S. Official Criticizes Iraqi Kurds' (0+ / 0-)

    As if Turkey's historical inner tensions and external frictions weren't hard enough, Rice's sheeple probably aren't helping...

    David Satterfield, senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya that Iraqi Kurds are not doing enough to stop violence on Iraq's northern border with Turkey. He said the U.S. was mediating in talks between the Iraqis and Turks over the feud.

    Earlier this month, Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, threatened that Iraq's Kurds would retaliate if Turkey persisted in "interfering" in Iraqi affairs, particularly regarding the oil-rich Kirkuk city. Ankara does not want to see Kirkuk under control of the Kurds, fearing that would strengthen them.

    Barzani said Iraqi Kurds could strike back and intervene in Turkey's southeast where the region's Kurdish majority has been fighting for decades against Turkish security forces for autonomy.....

    from Newsvine.
      You all probably saw this, but maybe not. (I probably bmarked from your diaries here, heh).

  •  Very interesting (0+ / 0-)

    How do the Kurds play into this and which side, if either is liklier to support US interests in Iraq, i.e., the real interests, not the spreading democracy meme.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 03:11:42 PM PDT

  •  Oh boy! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rohan, sandbox

    Let's choose between Islamic fundamentalism and a military that gleefully tortures and otherwise has contempt for civil rights.

    Hobson's choice.

    Been there, done that: Last time it was called Algeria.

    •  Right, I was thinking of Algeria too (0+ / 0-)

      So which do you choose?

      •  I don't. (0+ / 0-)

        Next question?

      •  Huge Difference between Algeria and Turkey (0+ / 0-)

        The reason the Algerian army took power in 1992 was that the Islamists said if they took power in the elections it would be "god's will" and they wouldn't give up power again, even if they lost it in another election.

        That's a HUGE difference from what AK has said and done since they've been in office. They have governed competently, kept inflation in-line and not made any overtly Islamist moves. Far better to have them IN the government than OUT.

        Turkey's military has a key role maintaining Ataturk's secular ideas and the constitution. It's a situation very unique to Turkey.

        I'm a secularist but I see no reason why, after showing they can do a good job governing, the AK party should not be allowed the Presidency if they win it legitimately. That's democracy folks.

        If they start screwing up - well then the Turkish military can take power. They've done it before, they'll do it again and believe me if the Islamists start cozying up to Iran and making other overtly religious moves like they did in 1997 - the Turkish people would support them 100%.

  •  Generally agree with the diary, but (0+ / 0-)

    there are a couple points that should be added.

    As far as the protest goes, this is not a black and white issue with clear cut heroes/villians here. On the one hand, the protestors are doing a good thing by supporting Turkey as a secular state. On the other hand, Abdulla Gul (the presidential candidate they are protesting) and his AK party are fairly mild by Islamic standards, and they were voted in during a free election. In other words, the protestors are essentially protesting against democracy, and literally inviting the military to stage another coup.

    Also, I live in Europe and will tell you that the majority of people in the EU (according to their official survey, the Eurobarometer) do not want Turkey to join. It's not going to join soon. And those objections are not just about religion, culture, racism, or the Armenian genocide. There are also concerns over:

    1. Turkey's illegal (according to the UN) occupation of Cyprus
    1. Its Huge debt (one of the highest in the world)
    1. Huge population (if it joined the EU, will soon become largest nation in it)
    1. Its lack of "Europeaness" (only 3% of its land is actually in Europe)
    1. Almost non-existent environmental policies
    1. Finally, if Turkey joined, the EU would suddenly find itself directly sharing borders with Syria, Iran and Iraq, something that worries many EU citizens.

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