Sunday, 8 April 2012

Turkey drifting towards Islamic fascism

Above is a report from BBC World Service radio on Turkey’s drift towards authoritarianism, repression, ultra-nationalism and Islamism. The report is wishy-washy, but raises a number of issues. For example, we note, as we have always noted, that Turkey’s dalliance with democracy and liberalism was never serious, but rather a device adopted by Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan and the AK party to corner the Kemalist deep state and give Erdogan the space to Islamise Turkish society.

We also note that Foreign Minister Ahmed Davoutoglu’s neo-Ottomanism has turned out to be nothing more than an aggressive form of Turkish nationalism; while the ‘zero problem’ policy with neighbours has not so much collapsed, but been revised, to exclude Iran, Syria, Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The deteriorating relationship with Iran and Syria would seem to provide a window of opportunity for a Turkey-Israel rapprochement – but it is doubtful whether an Islamic nationalist Turkey can accommodate reconciliation with Israel and whether Israel could trust this new Turkey, particularly when it comes to transportation of Israel’s natural gas resources, with a more reliable conduit appearing to be Cyprus and Greece.

And just like Turkey’s supposed turn to democracy and liberalism was superficial, so was Turkey’s attempt to join the European Union, in which case this represents a failure of Greece’s policy of détente with Turkey. Greece had bet that a Turkey committed to European standards and norms would become defanged and no longer pose an existential threat. Cyprus, too, had hoped that Turkey would choose to settle the Cyprus problem in order to remove one of the main obstacles to its EU accession. Turkey now has no incentive to reverse its Cyprus policy and will deepen its presence in northern Cyprus, which it has no intention of loosening its grip on.

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