Barry Rubin is one of the world’s foremost experts on Turkey and the director of the Global Research for International Affairs Center (GLORIA Center)Â in Herzliya. When Barry speaks, people listen.Â
In fact, a Turkish newspaper based in Istanbul interviewed Prof. Rubin to get his views on the latest Turkish elections. You can read the interview here:
It makes for unsettling reading. The Islamic party (the AKP) thatÂ won the elections more than a week ago is the smiling face of Islam. They are moderate. They areÂ democratic. They are fiscally conservative. They are efficient. They are less corrupt.
They are usheringÂ in a newÂ eraÂ for Turkey.
Just ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an Islamic political party of ANY kind to exist. And then for an Islamic party to actuallyÂ win?
But, it’s conceivable now because the traditional protectors of Turkish secularism are slowly becomingÂ Islamized. More and more officers are achieving high rank, even though they are devout Muslims – a situation that would have been unheard of in Turkey just a few years ago. True, apologists maintain that these officers are AKP supporters and therefore moderate, but are they really?
Let me ask you this:
How many times have you moderated an unusual aspect of your life so that you could achieve a goal in life?
If you were a devout, fundamentalist MuslimÂ officer, wouldn’t you ‘moderate’ your Islamic identity to achieve a higher rank? Especially if achieving higher rank was desirable forÂ furthering fundamentalistÂ Islam?Â
So, Turkish army officers that support the AKP (Justice and Development Party) don’t impress me much. Remember that, in Islam, it is acceptable to lie, cheat, and steal for the greater glory of Allah.
But, back to our regularly scheduled diatribe against the AKP…
This AKP government has taken on the bankrupt, derelict public projects of previous Turkish administrations and completed them. Tunnels have been dug. Buildings have been built. Eye-sores have been de-sored. Â
This new, kinder, gentler face of Islam has made Islamic government palatable to even die-hard secularists.
The problem is that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has broken through an important barrier that cannot be re-erected – the prohibition against Islamic political parties. And, theÂ increasingly toothless Turkish army will soon be completely neutral over the issue of Islamic government.
And, then what?
When all the barriers to the political involvement of Islam have fallen, will we see a reoccurrence of events in Iran? Remember that the Shah of Iran tried to do what Kemal Attaturk did in Turkey – and failed.
I know that the jury is out on the future of Turkey, but I believe that Turkey’s days as a secular state are numbered. It is only a matter of time before Kemal Attaturk’s secularist dream fails.
Here are a couple more articles on Turkey by the GLORIA Center:
Turkish Election Analysis:
Turkey: Threat or Triumph for Democracy?