By Toni Alaranta

December 1, 2016

The debate on political Islam under the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) needs to fully acknowledge the crucial importance of nationalism as the enduring element of any relevant form of mass politics in Turkey. In the Turkish case, it makes no sense to speak about political Islam distinct from nationalism as an overriding ideological component of modern politics. Just as much as the AKP’s political Islam utilizes religious texts, symbols and traditions, it also utilizes the familiar discourse of nationalism. This process was underway before the failed coup, but it has become more pronounced in its wake.

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By Nathan Shachar

July 8, 2016

Whatever dividends the fresh Turkish-Israeli rapprochement will bring, it reveals something fundamental about the new Middle East: the number of unknown variables in this ever less predictable environment is steadily growing, and even the most arrogant and unrepentant leaders will have to eat crow from time to time in order to salvage their national interests. Leaders who stand by their words and their principles will be severely handicapped.

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Ali Bulaç in Yarına Bakış writes that Turkey had the chance to provide a model of successful Islamist governance, and asks why it failed. Turkey could have been different, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. If every group had shown the maturity of sharing the work of governing with each other, while at the same time conserving their autonomy, then the process that started in 2002 would have ended with making Turkey a role model for the Middle East. We have to concede that the Muslims were unable to share power, and that they failed to construct a just power. They have forfeited nearly all of the gains that were made since 1960; indeed, the gains relating to freedoms and rights that had been obtained since parliamentary democracy was established in 1950 have been surrendered. This has more than one reason. Two principal reasons stand out: The first is the incompatibility between the two strands of Islam in Turkey that has never been surmounted, between the National Outlook movement and the Nurcu strand or strands; the other reason is that the religious fraternities, as soon as they glimpsed the light of power in the 21st century, reverted to the Ottoman tradition of seeing themselves as the prolongation of the state in society and engaged in a race to become the state’s most privileged group. Meanwhile, Muslim intellectuals quickly embraced the opportunity of becoming the official servants of the state. Anyone who chooses Turkey as model will repeat this mistake.

Metin Münir on t24 news site writes that the regime in Turkey is engaged in an attempt to reverse what Atatürk and his friends did when they founded the republic in 1923; they are founding a new republic. It is going to a place where conservatives, the pious and the lumpen rule supreme, and where everyone else is excluded; it is going to be a Sunni and not secular, a Middle Eastern and not European Turkey. If Atatürk and his friends had not emerged when the empire fell, Turkey would have been a mix of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. This fate was averted, but the founders of the republic were unable to create a peaceful regime. That was because they did not accept that Turkey is a mosaic that is made up of Turks and Kurds, of Sunnis and Alevis and of many other religious and ethnic minorities. Instead, they erected a regime ruled by secular Turks. That did not work. The emergence of Erdoğan and his friends is the result of this neglect. Now, they are repeating the same mistake in a different way. They have replaced the rule of the secular Turks with the rule of the Sunni Turks – again by disregarding the Alevis and the Kurds and the seculars who have become the biggest minority. This is not going to work either. It is going to crumble. A new order will eventually be created, but only after we have gone through indescribable miseries and destruction.

By Gallia Lindenstrauss 

February 4th, 2016, The Turkey Analyst

In view of the challenges Turkey is facing in the Middle East, Ankara is attempting to further solidify its relations with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and specifically with KRG’s president, Massoud Barzani. While this policy may assist Turkey in increasing its influence over the future of Iraq and assist it in diversifying its energy suppliers, it is less likely to help Turkey in its internal struggle with its Kurdish minority, or in countering the Kurdish aspirations in Syria. Yet, as the only still relevant remnant of Turkey’s ‘zero Problems’ policy, Turkey-KRG relations do have the potential to assist Ankara in maintaining and solidifying its influence over the future of Iraq.

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Joint Center Publications

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Assasination in Ankara"Foreign Affairs, January 3, 2017

Essay Halil M. Karaveli "Erdogan's Journey"Foreign Affairs, October 19, 2016

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Turkey's Fractured State", The New York Times, August 1, 2016

Op-ed Svante E. Cornell "A botched coup and Turkey’s descent into madness", Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, July 19, 2016

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "Turkey's Decline", Foreign Affairs, March 2, 2016.

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "La Turquie, est-elle destinée à durer?", Centre for International Policy Studies, January 27, 2016.

Monograph Eric Edelman, Svante Cornell, Aaron Lobel, Halil Karaveli, "Turkey Transformed: The Origins and Evolution of Authoritarianism and Islamization under the AKP", Bipartisan Policy Center, October 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell and M.K. Kaya, "The Naqshbandi-Khalidi Order and Political Islam in Turkey", Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, September 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell, "Understanding Turkey's Tilt", Journal of International Security Affairs, no. 27, Winter 2014.

Monograph Eric S. Edelman, Svante E. Cornell, Aaron Lobel, Michael Makovsky, The Roots of Turkish Conduct: Understanding the Evolution of Turkish Policy in the Middle East, Washington: Bipartisan Policy Center, December 2013.

The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.

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