Sunday, September 5, 2010

At Last! A Moderate, Articulate Opposition Leader to Defeat Turkey's Islamist Regime at the Ballot Box

By Barry Rubin

Turkey’s current Islamist regime, after seven years in power, better start getting nervous. For in opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu--a Kurd by background, a social democrat by world view, and a man known for being both articulate and incorruptible--it has a tough opponent for next year’s election. He doesn’t mince words. Here’s what he told Der Spiegel:

“Our prime minister's tantrums create problems for us. We are a modern country; our laws and ethical principles are Western. The government is in the process of gambling away this tradition. They are scaring away our partners. They are beginning to exert their power over the state, step by step….We currently have a prime minister who is strongly polarizing -- overseas as well as at home. Do you not agree that a less aggressive political style would suit our country better?”

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the media and public are waking up about the mess their government has led them into. Semih Idiz writes in Hurriyet:

“It is clear that Turkish-American ties have not been the same since Turkey voted against the Iran sanctions at the Security Council. The Mavi Marmara incident, on the other hand, increased the tension in Turkish-Israeli ties, which was in the doldrums anyway since the famous incident in Davos. This in turn has had an added disruptive effect on Turkish-American ties.

“One could even say at this stage that the normalization of Turkish-Israeli ties has become a kind of a precondition for the normalization of Turkish-U.S. ties, and until that happens it seems that Ankara’s relations with Washington will not carry the `strategic value’ they may have had in the past.”

“….If there is not careful management of the adverse situation that exists this could end up being one of the worst periods in Turkish-U.S. ties. The problem here is not so much with the U.S. administration, of course….”

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