Sunday, March 27, 2011

Turkey: Less Democracy But An Alternative

By Barry Rubin

For several years I've been telling you that under its current Islamist regime, Turkey has become less and less of a democratic state. Dissidents are arrested on trumped-up charges; the media is bought up or intimidated into shutting up. Hundreds of peaceful dissidents--including many journalists--have been arrested, imprisoned, and accused of treason or terrorism without evidence. The regime has moved into an alliance with Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah. It has bought up much of the media and intimidated much of the rest.

Yet the idea that somehow this regime is a model of democracy in a Muslim-majority state--something for others to emulate, for goodness sakes!--has remained dominant in the West.

Still, one abuse has followed another, with the nature of this anti-democratic would-be dictatorship becoming increasingly apparent. Following on the arrests of journalists and closing of a publication merely because it asserted that it was about to publish proof that the arrests have been made on trumped-up charges, even the U.S. government finally protested, albeit very mildly.

But now the regime has trumped even that human rights' violation.

An investigative journalist named Ahmet Shik has been working on a book about Fatitullah Gulen. But Gulen, a controversial Islamist who has huge amounts of money, his own media empire, has bought off some American Middle East experts, runs lots of schools, practically owns the Turkish police, and engages in a variety of covert activities aimed to transform Turkey into an Islamist state. Apparently, Turkish journalists do not have the right to criticize or investigate the movement.

So not only was Shek arrested--as an alleged terrorist!--and all the copies of his manuscript seized by the police, but the authorities then went on to raid his publisher's office and two of his friends homes and offices. They deleted the versions on all of their computers. Then, realizing that an expert can restore deleted files, the police returned and took the hard disks with them.

One wonders how much repression is going to have to happen in Turkey before foreign media acknowledge and Western governments admit that the regime is oriented toward dictatorship and Islamism, making it an enemy of Western interests and certainly only a negative role model for the Arab world!

The leader of Turkey's opposition says that the current, Islamist regime's supposed policy of getting along with everyone--though really it means aligning with radical Islamist forces in the Middle East--has actually led to bad relations with a lot of countries.

And he also discusses relations with Israel:

Question: "Does the deterioration of relations with Israel...serve Turkey’s interests?"

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: "The answer is no. In the first place, the deterioration of our relations with Israel has caused significant losses....Trade and tourism went down....But the greater loss is of a strategic nature and affects the entire region....[The fact that Turkey is] no longer enjoying the trust of Israel puts it out of the Middle East equation, further weakening the prospects of peace and stability in this key region [and]...could unexpectedly lead to situations that might hurt Turkey’s vital national interests."

And here's another brilliant article by Soner Cagaptay which gave me a new perspective on Turkish issues. Briefly, he points out that the current, Islamist regime in Turkey has dropped all the good things from Kemalism (secularism, gender equality, good relations with the West) and simply adapted all the problemmatic aspects (hardline stand on the Armenian and Kurdish issues; unbending nationalism, etc.)

Finally, the current Turkish regime--which likes Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi--is refusing to support NATO involvement in the Libyan crisis. Instead, it wants to mediate. Whose side is this regime on? Not that of NATO or the West. But it is on the side of Iran, Syria, Libya, Hamas, and Hizballah.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.