Turkey in Deep Trouble

Excerpts from an insightful and provocative article by Kerem Oktem in The New Humanist (click here for the full article).

…According to the latest Pew Global Attitudes Survey, Turkey has become one of the most xenophobic countries in the world. More than 70 per cent of Turkish citizens dislike both Christians and Jews, almost 70 per cent think unfavourably of Hamas, the cause célèbre of virtually any Muslim society, around 45 per cent dislike Saudi Arabia and, believe it or not, almost 10 per cent disapprove of Islam, in a country whose population is nominally 99 per cent Muslim….

There is little doubt that the rank and file of the AKP have found encouragement in the wave of religious conservatism the generals unleashed in the 1980s. Yet the murderers of Christians, as well as the mobs attacking Kurds, hail from quite another movement. Against the ideological back-drop of the Turkish-Islamic Synthesis has grown a fascist movement, distinct from the AKP’s more moderate, European-focused Islam, and driven by notions of ethno-religious supremacy. Members of this movement have been enlisted by what is commonly referred to as the “deep state”, a clandestine network of retired army generals, liaison officers, extreme nationalist media strongmen and politicians, as well as members of the secret services, which was first established as a semi-legal network to fight communism during the Cold War and has now gone out of control.

A recent court case about the operations of this network revealed a series of narrowly aborted military coups and suggested that its actors are responsible for the spate of murders as well as for other plots targeting Kurds and particularly Kurdish politicians. The larger aim of this network is to obstruct Turkey’s EU-membership process in order to secure vested interests…

As it appears now, the two large blocs vying for hegemony are not secularists and moderate Islamists, but isolationalists and nationalists – ranging from the military to the Republican People’s Party – on the one side, and authoritarian Islamists on the other. Both blocs are determined to impose their ideological straitjacket on society, both are ready to use religion for their political ends, both base their politics on the vilification of others and both are happy to exclude the two large minority groups, the Kurds and the Alevis, without whose enfranchisement Turkish democracy will remain incomplete. Yet both blocs are also Machiavellian enough to drop almost any ideological commitment, if this would bring them closer to power

Turkey might soon be waking up to a sinister spectacle: a wave of ethnic and religious violence erupting in its main cities and in areas where Kurds or Alevis are sizeable and visible minority communities….

No Responses to “Turkey in Deep Trouble”

  1. Why is this insightful? Especially this bit:

    As it appears now, the two large blocs vying for hegemony are not secularists and moderate Islamists, but isolationalists and nationalists – ranging from the military to the Republican People’s Party – on the one side and authoritarian Islamists on the other.

    C’mon, I believe you know or at least have talked to a fairly representative crowd here, do you see any chance of this kind of a disasterous polarization becoming prominent? All bets are off if something truly horrible happens to the economy, but, other than that, do we have any evidence to believe that people who command and benefit from more than a quarter trillion dollars worth of trade volume will simply vanish from any power-play and leave the field to the insane?

  2. Very sad

  3. While I don’t entirely agree with the assessment that two new blocs threaten the Turkish Republic, I do think that the xenophobia, especially the anti-americanism strain needs serious attention. In this respect, the AKP has singularly failed to address the issue. Governments do not need to advance pro-American outlooks but at the same time should be held accountable for standing idly by while paranoid and bigoted agendas are advanced in the media. McCarthyism in any form, time or place is unacceptable. Whatever happened to statesmanship.

  4. David, Our problem is not that our current political construct results in some xenophobia as a side-effect, but rather that xenophobia has been used as a core element of power in all or recent governments. Blaming AKP is just wrong. To say “AKP has singularly failed” is stunning since they are just attempting to avoid too much of a showdown with prior government’s that used xenophobia.

    It is fascinating you center on “Anti-Americanism.” That label is so over used as to be meaningless. It only has meaning as a distraction from one of the major legitimate worldwide trends — criticism of failed and dangerous US policies. One might as well say the US is the most xenopobic country and is beset by anti-Turkish, anti-Islam, anti-Russian, anti-whatever. “Paranoid and bigoted” agendas are as in evidence in the States as anywhere.

    Look at the New York Times piece of today. It makes it clear that the xenophobic and hard line statements by Erdogan derive from his need for support from former governments and deep states interests.

    ti sthe one development is not a xenophobia in our country.

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