Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Cyprus: the Turkish Islamist perspective

Nikos Moudouros’ article The Cypriot Version of the AKP Model. Neoliberalism and the Turkish Cypriot Community (belowis quite interesting. It purports to explain how the Islamists of Turkey’s ruling AK party see Cyprus – as the first piece of Christian/Western territory Muslims have conquered in 300 years – and, more broadly, reveals the worldview of Turkey’s Islamists, who regard the West as in decline, facilitating the emergence of Turkey, spearheading a revived Islamic world, as a global power.

In the second part of his article, Moudouros dwells on how Turkey is trying to shape occupied Cyprus into the mirror image of Turkey – economically neoliberal, culturally Islamic – and on how secular and leftist Turkish Cypriots can be expected to resist this. (Personally, I doubt that the Turkish Cypriots have the power or will to resist Turkey’s plans – their political culture is overwhelmingly geared to serving the will and interests of Ankara – and, indeed, so far there exists little evidence to suggest that the AK party will be denied in occupied Cyprus).

Worth pointing out that Moudouros is Dimitris Christofias’ son-in-law and was the ex-president’s chief adviser on Turkey and Turkish Cypriot affairs and you will have to ignore the Marxist gobbledegook in his article to decipher the worthwhile points he makes.

I’ve also come across another article by a prominent US neocon arguing that America’s interests in the Eastern Mediterranean demand the ditching of Turkey and the forging of an alliance with Israel, Cyprus and Greece. Read Seth Cropsey’s Mediterranean Gas Find: A Chance for US to Break with Turkey here.


The Cypriot Version of the AKP Model. Neoliberalism and the Turkish Cypriot Community, by Nikos Moudouros
Ali Bulaç, a Turkish Islamist intellectual, cited in a characteristic way the traditional perception of the way political Islam faces Cyprus, through his own column in Zaman newspaper, by mentioning the following:
‘The reason why the Turkish intervention in Cyprus caused a huge wave of enthusiasm would be explained to me a little later by an elder uncle from Halepi… the most important of all was that for the first time after 300 years the Muslim world would manage to grab a piece of land, even a small one, from the hands of the Christians’.

According to the above, conquering a small part of land ‘taken from the hands of the Christians’ constituted a matter of honor to the rivalry of these two completely different worlds, as these were formed in the perception of the Turkish political Islam. However, in order to better understand today’s strategy of the Justice and Development Party concerning Cyprus, this strategy should be placed in a right historical context. The de-coding of the policy followed in the northern part of Cyprus, demands an even at least brief de-coding of the AKP’s worldview as this has been affected and formed by the end of the Cold War, the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 and the neoliberal restructuring.

After almost eleven years of governance it is now clear that the AKP demands a new international world order which will reflect the 21st century’s new balances. Behind the AKP’s will for a new reading of global balances, lies the belief that the West no longer constitutes the dominant political and economic center of the world. According to this thinking, the 21st century world is marked by a shift of trade, industrial production and consequently part of the capital from the West to the East. This change in its turn affected a deeper ideological understanding of ‘national geography’, defining a new framework for regional activation of Turkey.

We could claim that according to the AKP this is about a procedure which regenerates the ‘greatness’ of the Islamic world, which now claims with more pretensions its positions in the global competition. Ibrahim Kalın, chief adviser to Prime Minister Erdoğan, claims that Turkey backs up this very own questioning of the up to today West-centered reading and interpreting of the world. Now, says Kalın, there is a new Turkish history which must be promoted in the region. This historical understanding requires the creation of a new ‘geographical imagination’, such that would demolish the traditional concept of borders. Kalın is for once more enlightening: ‘The best way to protect the national state is to act as if it does not exist, to respect the borders of others as well as yours, but also to operate as if they do not exist.’

Thereby the effort of creating a Turkish-Islamic area of influence, a geopolitical field, of which Turkey will ensure its integration to the global economic structure is revealed. Turkey as a kind of a ‘commercial state’ and with the machine for promoting its goals being Islam and the economy, seeks to become a leading force in the continuous ‘commercialization’ of a large contiguous area. Turkey seeks to export its own model of modernization to the Arab-Muslim world transforming itself at the same time to a representative of a separate international (Islamic) block demanding integration to what was up to today perceived as the Western capitalist world. So Turkey is in a constant search for finding ways of facilitating neoliberal modernization in a large region considered to have historical and cultural ties.

Read the rest of the article here.

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