By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
On June 14, 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly invited Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the powerful Gülen Movement, to return to Turkey from self-imposed exile in the United States. On June 16, 2012, in a videoed interview, Gülen declined the invitation, breaking down in tears as he expressed his fears that his return could be exploited to destabilize the country and damage his movement’s achievements. In recent months, Erdoğan and members of the Gülen Movement have been engaged in a bitter power struggle. As a result, Erdoğan’s invitation to Gülen was interpreted by some commentators as a reconciliatory peace offering. However, it would probably be more accurate to interpret it as a challenge to Gülen, an assertion of authority in the guise of a magnanimous gesture.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Turkey’ ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is reverting to its Islamist roots. Flexing his Islamist muscles, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expects to keep the conservative core constituency mobilized behind him. However, the AKP’s new-old Islamism is in fact not in tune with the dynamics of societal change that has upheld its power until now. The attempt to institute another regime of tutelage, this one Islamic, is bound to alienate crucial constituencies for the AKP -- the liberal seculars, obviously, but modern conservatives as well. The AKP seems set to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
By Osman Ulagay (vol. 5, no. 11 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is demonstrating an unwillingness to leave any room in society – be it in the public administration, in the universities, or in the business world, to those who are not its supporters. Although the AKP enjoys broad support, religiously inspired social conservatism nonetheless alienates a substantial part of society, provoking serious tensions in the process. One could thus argue that Turkey is approaching a critical moment. What Turkey needs at this critical juncture is a political alternative that transcends the divides of society and seeks to reconcile differences instead of exacerbating them.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently expressed allegiance to “one nation, one flag, one religion, one state.” Indeed, the Turkish republic recognizes only “one religion”, Sunni Islam, as the basis of the nation. Erdoğan is nonetheless anxious to preserve the image that he has successfully cultivated as the benefactor of the numerically insignificant non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. What the ruling Sunni conservatives have much greater difficulty in reconciling themselves to, is that Turkey, although nominally “99 percent Muslim” is far from being homogenously Sunni Muslim.
By M. Kemal Kaya (vol. 5, no. 9 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey may be headed toward an unexpected presidential election in August 2012, as the Constitutional Court is set to rule on the constitutionality of a temporary law that stipulates that the term of incumbent president Abdullah Gül ends in 2014, and which bars him from seeking reelection. It is however unlikely that Gül would, in that event, stand any chance of mobilizing support within the AKP for a presidential bid. The most likely scenario is that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chooses to seek the presidency two years earlier than anticipated.
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.