Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wake Up and Smell the Paradigm Shift: Turkey's Regime Marches Toward Islamism

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By Barry Rubin

More evidence piles up every day that the Turkish government is moving toward radical Islamism yet Western policymakers pretend it merely combines a nice flavor of moderate Islam combined with democracy.

It is clear, for example, asPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says, "It's Israel that is the principal threat to regional peace." Not Iran, Israel. Aside from everything else, the Turkish government is on the other side regarding Western efforts to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons since the prime minister has said that Iran isn't developing weapons, that he regards Iranian leader Ahmadinejad as a friend, and that even if Iran were building nuclear bombs it has a right to do so.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was right when he said that Erdogan is "slowly turning into someone like [Libyan dictator Muammar] Qadhafi or [Venezuelan dictator] Hugo Chavez....It's his choice. The problem is not Turkey, the problem is Erdogan." Well, Erdogan and his colleagues.

Meanwhile, the regime also continues to arrest military officers on trumped up coup charges. Here's a good article on how the government is trying to intimidate the armed forces into intimidation, removing the last obstacle to its remaining in power for a very long time and doing as it pleases.

If this kind of thing--making friends with Iran, reducing internal freedoms, arresting scholars and others on phony coup charges--happened in a South American or Asian country it would set off alarm bells and be dramatic front page news. But as part of the denial psychology with which much of the West deals with anything happening in a Muslim-majority country it fits right in.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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