Wall Street Journal
20 Ağustos 2007
STATE OF THE UNION: Losing Turkey
When a half-century of convergence between Turkey and the European Union last floundered a decade ago, the Turks regrouped and forged forward and the EU met them halfway. The result was a revolutionary period of reform in Turkey. Last month, grateful for their most fruitful period of political stability in many years, the Turkish electorate gave a resounding 46.7% vote of confidence to the ruling, pro-reform AK Party.
Now it is Europe's turn to take a stand. Instead it is stumbling: finding enlargement unfashionable, fearing immigration and mistaking some nonintegrated Turks within the EU for Turkey itself. Governments in France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands are trying to short-change Turkey with the new idea of a "privileged partnership," not the membership promised repeatedly since 1963.
There is no need for Europe to fear Turkey's membership goal. The Turks themselves acknowledge the country is far from ready; the earliest date for joining the EU is a decade away. Turkey has to fulfill the stiffest conditions applied to any candidate. Any EU government can veto its membership, and the French people can vote it down in a referendum. If and when Turkey becomes acceptable to the EU, the Turks, attached to their sovereignty, make no secret that they too may think hard about the last step.
Nor is there cause to fear the Turks' mostly pragmatic take on Islam. The AKP's affable foreign minister, Abdullah Gül, almost certain to be elected president by parliament this month, has highlighted his vow to preserve the secularism of Turkey's political system. Mr. Gül's wife wears the urban-chic headscarf of Turkey's new Muslim conservatives, but in time this symbol is likely to become as unremarkable as the one worn by Recep Tayyip Erdogan's wife, which was equally controversial when he became prime minister four years ago. The secularist mass demonstrations this April and May showed that Turkey's still-powerful Kemalist establishment and vigilant society will be the first to block any real attempt to install a theocratic regime.
Europeans should remember that the EU goal provided the stimulus and motivation for the golden age of Turkish reform in 1999-2005. Ironically, this brought progress in the very same domains that right-wing critics in Europe traditionally cite as reasons why Turkey cannot become a member. The economy, governance and religious and civil liberties have all improved during those years. Additionally, the advances visibly benefited European commercial and strategic interests.
Turkey's average annual economic growth over the last five years was 7.5%, per capita income has doubled since 2003 and, especially in the last two years, foreign investment has skyrocketed. European companies, especially from Germany, have led the way in opening superstores and taking over banks, food companies and insurance concerns. Since the 1995 customs union with Europe, Turkey's overall trade volume has quadrupled, half of which is trade with the EU.
The political trust generated by this process had knock-on effects for European security. Turkey typically adopts most of Europe's common foreign and security policy. Turkish troops, commanders and civilian administrators have played leading roles in Afghanistan. The airlifting of French forces to Congo would have taken far longer without the offer of Turkish air transport. Turkey volunteered troops for the UN mission in Lebanon and is continuing its long and varied support of Western missions in the former Yugoslavia. Straddling routes that the EU says may one day transport 15% of Europe's oil and gas supply, it is already playing a role in enhancing European energy security.
EU reforms helped to transform and democratize Turkish society, illustrating the soft power of the EU to calm its rougher southeastern borderlands. New penal and civil codes, nine packages of legal reforms and a raft of other laws constituted a modernization unprecedented in Turkish legislative history. Increasing European legal oversight brought a period of calm in the long-running ethnic Kurdish insurgency. In 2004, EU-Turkish rapprochement even brought a fleeting possibility of solving the frozen conflict on Cyprus. Those who believe Cyprus remains an insuperable obstacle should remember that the EU was instrumental in easing the bitterness between Turkey and Greece whose dispute was once thought unbridgeable.
Since 2005, however, the EU's loss of nerve, driven by domestic politics, mistakes on all sides over Cyprus and misplaced prejudices about Turkey's progressive Islam, has put the process under pressure. The U.S.-led war in Iraq has done even more to rouse anti-Western feelings in Turkey. These have triggered jarring actions by nationalist Turkish prosecutors, who harassed intellectuals, and authoritarian generals, who fanned political tensions this year as they warned of intervention if they felt the republic's secularist heritage was at risk. This in turn provoked new European criticism.
Turkish politicians are now avoiding pro-EU stances. The military has slowed purchases from Europe; French companies, in particular, have suffered losses. Religious and ethnic minorities in Turkey have come under renewed pressure. Rows over Cyprus are increasingly damaging EU and NATO diplomacy. Ankara is questioning its contributions to the new European defense structure and showing signs of a go-it-alone attitude in military matters, particularly toward northern Iraq, where Kurdish rebels from Turkey have bases. Behind closed doors, the idea of being strategically alone in a rough neighborhood is making some in Ankara weigh up whether Turkey, too, should pursue a nuclear option.
It is not too late to reverse this trend. Despite the increasingly negative atmosphere since 2005, technical work on EU reforms continues. In April, the AK Party drew up the country's most intensively researched action plan for convergence toward EU standards. Prime Minister Erdogan did not highlight his pro-EU credentials in the election campaign, but neither did he jump on the neonationalist bandwagon that has developed in reaction to the EU disappointments. In his first speech after the election victory, he vowed to use his strong new mandate to relaunch the EU reforms.
To help that happen, Europe has to reach out, seriously and sincerely, with the goal of membership firmly in place. Palliatives like a "privileged partnership" or "Mediterranean Union" cannot gain the traction the EU needs with Turkey. And the EU-Turkey accession process is not, as one French politician has portrayed it, a breakable flirtation or engagement. Like two towns that have grown into each other, Turkey and Europe, once distinct, now overlap to an extent that cannot be undone.
Mr. Pope is a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, which has just published a report on Turkey and the EU. Based in Istanbul for 20 years, he is author most recently of "Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkic World" (Overlook Duckworth, 2005).
Wall Street Journal
FT'den Gül'ün cumhurbaşkanlığına ve AKP'nin misyonuna ilişkin bir makale: "Avrupa, Türkiye'nin geçiş sürecindeki bu kilometretaşını kutlamalı"
17 Ağustos 2007
Europe should celebrate this milestone in Turkey's transition
An awful lot is riding on the outcome of the presidential contest in Turkey, which Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister with an Islamist past, has re-entered - to the consternation of the overmighty generals who transformed his earlier candidacy into a summer-long constitutional crisis.
It is hard to think of any greater geopolitical imperative today than to demonstrate that Islam and democracy can be bound successfully together. Turkey is well on the way to proving this, in an experiment that is resonating far beyond its borders.
It is the Turks, of course, who are responsible for the success of this great challenge. But their partners in Europe and Nato must rise to it too.
The crisis erupted in April after the army issued an elliptical ultimatum - on its website - against Mr Gul's candidacy, in effect saying Turkey's secular heritage could not be entrusted to a man who had entered politics as an Islamist and whose wife wears the Muslim headscarf.
The ruling Justice and Development party of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the charismatic prime minister, called early elections and was returned with a hugely increased share of the vote. Turks stood four-square with democracy as the generals tripped over their clumsy digital démarche.
Before the AKP emerged in late 2001, the army had ousted four governments - and closed four Islamist parties - in four decades. This resounding vote showedTurkey has changed and that ithas done so, to the horror of its cosmopolitan and secular elites, under a neo-Islamist banner. How did this happen?
Three reasons for the AKP's success seem to stand out.
First, it helps to be competent and to have a national project. When Mr Erdogan's party first won office in 2002 the nationalist right was a howling irrelevance, the left a museum-piece, and the liberal and social democratic centre had fragmented into shrinking personality cults for giant egos, cut off from the conservative heartland of Anatolia and, indeed, the lives of ordinary Turks they did so little to improve.
The AKP, by contrast, is a considered project. Recycled from the wreckage of two banned Islamist parties, liberally seasoned with mainstream conservatives and Turkey's new business class, Mr Erdogan and his friends did their homework while they were putting the party together. They interviewed 41,000 people nationally, learning that ties to Europe and an economy in the worst recession since 1945 overwhelmingly dominated Turkish concerns; headline issues such as headscarves came a distant ninth.
The AKP has since provided good governance, with high economic growth and stability, rocketing inward investment, 2.5m new jobs and near doubled per capita income, while raising spending on education and infrastructure. It has also, as part of Turkey's attempt to meet the criteria of European Union membership, presided over a constitutional revolution: abolishing the death penalty and criminalising torture, introducing democratic freedoms of expression and association and minority rights for the Kurds - and, above all, subordinating the army to civilian authority.
But a second reason for the AKP's success is its astute reading of the social transformation of the country. The party is now the chosen path to modernity of the socially conservative, religiously observant but at the same time dynamic and entrepreneurial middle classes of central Anatolia, who now demand their rightful share in power, hitherto monopolised by a self-perpetuating secular elite.
The AKP's appeal is aspirational, about giving people the chance to build fulfilling lives; but reassuring, by holding fast to the moorings of family, religion and the villages from which many Turks are just a generation away. In Islamist terms this is a traditionalist world-view that looks forward, rather than a radical outlook that harks backwards in a violent lament for past glory.
Many Turkish secularists know full well this is not theocracy by stealth; there is, indeed, a definite whiff of class animus in their resistance to the shift in the balance of power towards Turks from the provinces and the countryside. Their outlook is ossified. They are shrine-keepers for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who, like many of those who built republican Turkey from the remains of the Ottoman empire, was a refugee, regrouping behind an essentially defensive political (and military) culture.
The AKP's third ace - and Turkey's - has been Europe. EU membership, finally under negotiation but now stalled, is still a popular and unifying idea in Turkey. Just about. Until reluctant partners such as France, Germany and Austria raised the bar for Turkish entry, the European project provided Turkey with not only an engine of reform but the glue of political cohesion. The Kemalists and military saw in the EU a fulfilment of the country's western vocation forseen by Atatürk, while the AKP saw in the EU's democratic club rules a shield against the generals.
Despite the maladroitness of its politicians, Europe's "soft power" is still seductive enough to arrange a marriage between Islam and democracy, bound by EU vows. Put another way, the interaction of Europe and Turkey is creating the Muslim world's first, as it were, Christian Democrats.
Like Christian Democrats in government across Europe, these Muslim Democrats differ from the mainstream centre-right - over moral issues or social justice, for instance - but they should be easy to recognise.
For all the hiccups and upsets, over free speech for writers perhaps, or free votes for a parliament that rejected a US invasion force for Iraq, they are a much better bet than the autocrats of the Middle East who, even when ostensibly enlightened like the Shah of Iran and his White Revolution, create social dislocation and bitterness that breeds extremism.
That is why Mr Gul's candidacy, following Mr Erdogan's democratic triumph, is a milestone in Turkey's political transition, perhaps akin to the 1982 Socialist landslide with which Spain's voters answered an attempted military coup by residual Francoism.
Europe should respond with enthusiasm to this and stop behaving as though the Turks were still menacing the gates of Vienna.
The assertion, especially in France, that Turkey shares none of Europe's heritage, is ahistorical: unless there was no Byzantium, no eastern Roman empire, no classics of Greek science and philosophy that, transmitted through the world of Islam, dragged Europe out of the dark ages. This is a country embedded in the history of Europe and Christendom as well as Islam - a precious commodity.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Posted by Hande Atay Alam at 7:26 AM
Financial Times'ın Gül'ün cumhurbaşkanlığına aday olmasına ilişkin başyazısı: "Türk Demokrasisi İçin Sınav Zamanı"
15 Ağustos 2007
Testing time for Turkish democracy
Gul has every right to stand for the presidency
In re-electing the Justice and Development party of Recep Tayyip Erdogan with nearly half the popular vote, Turks made clear last month that in the confrontation between the government and the military over a new president they stood four-square with democracy.
That must be the starting point for considering the merits of the ruling AKP's decision to renominate Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, whose candidacy for the presidency triggered a dangerous constitutional crisis this summer.
The army's attempt to block him, even if it delivered its ultimatum on Mr Gul via the internet, was politically Neanderthal. It is the military and the unelectable Kemalist secular elite it fronts for that is stuck in the past, not the neo-Islamist AKP that - so far - has provided successful, stable and modernising governance. Turkey's citizens clearly recognise that and it is therefore totally within the government's democratic rights to put forward the candidate of its choice.
The Financial Times had argued, nevertheless, for Mr Erdogan to show restraint and seek a compromise candidate. Clearly, significant numbers of secular-minded Turks still mistrust the Islamist background of AKP leaders, even if the army is blowing the Muslim headscarf issue out of all proportion.
In the event, it is not that simple. We should remember, first, that putting Mr Gul forward was a considered attempt to circumvent a foreseeable confrontation had Mr Erdogan himself stood. Second, the secular politicians, reliant on the army to secure what they could not win at the polls, seem unable to come up with a plausible compromise candidate. That being the case, Mr Erdogan has a statesman's duty to keep his party and movement together if he is planning to govern for another five years - and they clearly want Mr Gul.
Mr Gul would be a more than plausible president. As foreign minister he won international respect and carefully defended Turkey's interests in Europe, the US and in its own difficult neighbourhood. He is, at the same time, emblematic of a newly confident Muslim middle class and an economically dynamic central Anatolia.
The secular establishment's objections to him smack of class and cultural warfare: its arguments about the dangers of theocracy by stealth are hysterical and bogus.
Mr Gul, of course, must honour his pledge to represent all Turks. But he should not overcompensate. His job will be to represent an outgoing Turkey to the world and, above all, doggedly pursue membership talks with the European Union.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Posted by Hande Atay Alam at 8:34 AM
United Press International ajansından Martin Walker'ın 22 Temmuz sonrası Türkiye'yi bekleyen sorunlara ilişkin analizi
6 Ağustos 2007
Walker's World: The Turkish crisis
By MARTIN WALKER
UPI Editor Emeritus
PARIS, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Three crises are coming to a head at once in Turkey. And despite its powerful mandate from last month's elections, the re-elected government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ill-placed to tackle any one of them.
The first crisis is the appearance in Parliament of 18 elected new members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, accused of links to the outlawed separatist guerilla movement of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers' Party. One of the new members, Sebahat Tuncel, was only released from nine months in jail for alleged PKK membership after she was elected in an Istanbul constituency, giving her automatic immunity from prosecution.
Tuncel has declared that her election as a representative for Istanbul, Turkey's biggest city and its gateway to Europe, shows that people nationwide, not just in the country's Kurdish-dominated southeastern region, want peace. "That is how it should be understood," she insisted after being sworn into office Saturday.
Nonetheless, it should be a fiery session in Parliament, as the 18 new Kurds face off against the 71 members of the of National Action Party, who are fiercely against more concessions to the Kurds and campaigned on a demand for the execution of the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Turkey's military, which has never been reluctant to intervene or to mount a coup when it fears the country's secular constitution or its national security are at risk, have been battling against PKK guerilla attacks in recent months after some years of uneasy truce. The fighting has been serious enough for airstrikes.
Already nervous at the election victories of Erdogan's moderate Islamist AK (Justice and Development) Party and fearing that Erdogan will renominate the devout Islamist Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to the presidency, the military sees the Kurds as a mortal threat to Turkey's integrity.
That is the second crisis. The last time Erdogan nominated Gul to the post, the military sounded a solemn warning that it did not approve. Gul's election as president was then blocked by parliamentary maneuver, which inspired Erdogan to call the election. With his new mandate, Erdogan is under pressure from his party loyalists to defy the military and nominate Gul once more.
But the chief of the general staff, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, has declared that the military stands by its opposition to an Islamist president “with conviction." Calling the army's bluff would be a very risky move, though a fourth military coup in 40 years would certainly put a nail in the coffin of Turkey's hopes of joining the European Union. But bowing to the army's demand would probably see a revolt by a third to half of Erdogan's own party.
The third crisis Turkey faces will be symbolized Tuesday by the expected arrival in Ankara, the country's capital, of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Top of the agenda for the Turks will be the PKK bases in northern Iraq, better known as the Kurdistan Regional Government, which Ankara refuses to recognize.
Turkey already has military outposts in this Kurdish-governed region and has reinforced its forces on the border in what could be a prelude to invasion. The Turkish military wants to go and clean out the PKK bases once and for all, though this may not be as easy as it sounds. The KRG may have little sympathy for the PKK, but any Turkish invasion would probably be met with a robust response by all Kurdish groups.
Turkey sees the KRG as the fast-growing embryo of an independent Kurdish state, which is likely to foment more trouble in Turkey's eastern regions and in the Kurd-dominated regions of Iran and Syria, as the Kurds pursue their long-frustrated dream of a nation of their own.
The United States, as a NATO ally of the Turks and as friend and protector of the KRG, is caught uncomfortably in the middle, trying with little success to persuade the KRG to move against the PKK before the Turks lose patience. The Washington rumor mill suggests that time is fast running out and that Erdogan may buy off his generals' opposition to an Islamist president by giving them a green light to invade northern Iraq.
It is in this context that Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggests that the Turks may have to accept the least of several possible evils, choosing the "best of the worst."
This would be a semi-autonomous Kurdish statelet in northern Iraq, an uncomfortable neighbor but probably less dangerous than the prospect of the Kurds declaring independence, which is likely to provoke immediate intervention from Turkey and Iran, plunging the entire region into war.
The Turkish media is presenting Maliki's visit as the last chance for the Iraqis to "do something" about the PKK bases. Maliki is bringing Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a prominent Kurd from the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the uncle of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. But Barzani seems ready to defy the Turks and is insisting on a referendum this year on the future of the city of Kirkuk, which Kurds see as their spiritual capital and also as their access to oil wealth. Turkey has warned that a Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk could be a cause for war.
There are no obvious solutions, and the main players -- Kurds, Iraqis and Turks -- are hamstrung by domestic politics. The bottom line is that Turkey is the regional superpower, with a booming economy growing at 7 percent a year and a gross domestic product now greater than that of Sweden -- and doubling in size every nine years. It is by far the biggest and most modern economy of any of the Muslim countries, and the richest in the Middle East.
Turkey also boasts the most powerful and best-equipped military and thus dominates the region -- at least until Iran becomes a nuclear-armed power, an event that is likely to trigger Turkey to follow suit. For the United States, whose presence in Iraq is unlikely to long outlive the lame-duck Bush administration, Turkey is the ally to count on for the long term. If that means abandoning the Kurds, a cold view of long-term U.S. interests might deem that a sad but acceptable price to pay.
Posted by Hande Atay Alam at 3:10 PM
U.S. faces obstacles as it seeks to ease tensions with Turkey
DESMOND BUTLER Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Bush administration officials see Turkey's recent election as an opportunity to improve strained relations with an important ally, but they face obstacles that may be beyond their control.
The first is that Congress, led by opposition Democrats, has a proposed resolution up for debate that would recognize World War I-era killings of Armenians as genocide - a view Turkey adamantly rejects.
The other issue is in the hands of the Iraqi government: A possible referendum on incorporating the oil-rich city ofKirkuk into the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Turkey opposes the referendum, fearing it could boost Kurdish separatists in Turkey, and sees it as another example of U.S. policy gone awry in neighboring Iraq.
«Turks would blame the U.S. for its failure to prevent the referendum because they believe they hold sway as theoccupying power,» said Bulent Aliriza, the director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Turkey research program.
The United States wants to strengthen ties with Turkey, a strategically important NATO ally located at the cross roads of Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. U.S. officials view Turkey, a secular democracy with a majority Muslim population, as a model for other nations. But relations have been strained, largely over the Iraq war. Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to use its territory to invade Iraq in 2003 and Turks continue tooppose the war.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found the United States had only a 9 percent favorable rating in Turkey. Turkey has criticized the United States for failing to stop Kurdish guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq from carrying out attacks in Turkey. Some analysts had feared that Turkey might invade northern Iraq ahead of the July 22 elections, to boost Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's nationalist credentials. But Turkey did not invade and Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, won an overwhelming victory. The U.S. believes the win provides an opportunity to boost ties.
Despite the party's Islamic roots, Erdogan and other leaders are seen as open to closer integration with the West and improving U.S. relations.
«This is an optimal outcome,» said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza in an interview. «The AKP is a known quantity.»
Some critics of the administration say the White House needs to move urgently to repair relations with Turkey. «There has been massive policy neglect,» said Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under the Clinton administration. Holbrooke, who is now supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton's Democratic presidential bid, said that Turkey should be treated as the most important strategic ally in the region.
But, that may be difficult as congressional Democrats push for the Armenian genocide resolution. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks, an event widely viewed by scholars as genocide. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
Turkish officials warn that if the resolution is approved, they will shut down routes to Iraq from Turkey that the U.S. uses to bring in most of its military supplies. The resolution has strong support in the House of Representatives, but will hinge on whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Tom Lantos, both Democrats, bring up the measure for votes.
Both Lantos and Pelosi have previously supported it, but are under intense pressure from both sides. They agreed to delay action on the referendum until after Turkey's election, congressional aides said. But the expectation in Congress is that it will likely pass this year.
The other source of tensions is the Kirkuk referendum, which the Iraqi constitution says must be held by the endof the year. Turkey fears it would be a step toward an independent Kurdistan and could endanger ethnic Turks who live in the region.
But last week, the leader of Iraq's Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, warned of a «real civil war» if the central government does not hold the referendum. And the U.S. says the decision is for the Iraqi government to decide.
Analysts say that the U.S. could achieve goodwill in Turkey by ordering military action against PKK fighters holed up in remote mountainous territory. But U.S. officials are reluctant to widen the Iraq conflict, taking on new combatants and increasing violence in what has been Iraq's most stable region.
Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler, who advocates close ties with Turkey, said that U.S. military officials have told him the U.S. is closer to moving against the PKK. «American and Turkish forces are cooperating to counter the PKK in a more concrete way than they were six months ago,» he said. «Counterterrorism operations and strategies are being employed.» He declined to elaborate.
Posted by Hande Atay Alam at 9:18 AM
Washington Post'ta Jim Hoagland'ın Pakistan'ı irdelerken, Türkiye'de ordu ve 22 Temmuz seçimlerinin anlamına da değinen makalesi
5 Ağustos 2007
Musharraf's Obsolete Way
Watching Pervez Musharraf perform brings to mind Fred Astaire. The Pakistani president tap-dances so nimbly across the world stage with such flair that you forget he is practicing a dying art.
Musharraf's art is running a soft military dictatorship -- albeit with civilian trappings -- in a socially fractured Islamic nation that is a nuclear power and a key front in the U.S. war on global terrorism. He has been dancing as fast and as skillfully as he can as he balances atop the most dangerous country on Earth.
But Musharraf's long run as President Bush's personal favorite among Third World leaders is in such serious trouble that some administration officials have quietly conducted a review of the general's ability to survive. Their conclusion -- that he can continue to hang on -- may well ignore changing Pakistani and international realities.
Military rule was a dominant feature in the developing world of the 20th century. But it is a political phenomenon that has passed its use-by date as globalization reshapes the powers and purposes of nation-states. Countries run by their armed forces invariably lag far behind their neighbors economically and socially over the longer term.
So Musharraf's recent stumbles are not the only factors in his political survival being openly challenged by public protests, court cases, assassination attempts by Islamic fanatics, his fellow generals' growing restiveness and now threats from a Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama.
The accelerating obsolescence of military rule is confirmed -- although in a very different way -- by events in Turkey, another longtime U.S. ally whose commanders see themselves as ultimate guardians and arbiters of their nation's institutions and politics.
In contrast to the turmoil of Pakistan, Turkish voters administered a peaceful if stinging rebuff to their generals by voting in parliamentary elections on July 22 to return to power the Islamic-oriented Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They did so despite an April 27 warning from the military command that such a result would bring disaster to the nation.
The Bush administration failed to oppose the generals' interference and must now deal with the changes brought by an election that effectively sends back to the barracks the military men who have long been Washington's main allies in Ankara. The vote entrenches a competent, democratic, Islamic-leaning government that looks more toward Europe than across the Atlantic for its strategic relationships.
The way forward for U.S. policy in Pakistan also becomes murky as Musharraf's angry, sequential rows with the country's judges, lawyers, media, politicians and the fanatics of the Red Mosque siege unite his enemies and fracture his domestic base of support. He seems to have lost his once-sure footing as he presses to secure a second term as president.
Obama's midweek threats that he might cut aid to Pakistan and send U.S. troops to destroy terrorist bases in that country will further shake the confidence of Pakistan's army and its powerful intelligence service in Musharraf's ability to continue managing Washington and secure economic help from Congress.
Obama's analysis of the Pakistan problem is accurate. But his criticism of the Bush administration's approach to Musharraf was neither deep nor broad enough. (No surprise, perhaps, since this was a campaign speech aimed more at countering Hillary Clinton than George W. Bush. But that is another column.) Despite attempts by aides to get Bush to focus on the impossibility of winning the war in Afghanistan as long as al-Qaeda and the Taliban have sanctuary in Pakistan, he has never been comfortable with confronting the Pakistani general. Bush fears that the only alternative to the brilliantly devious Musharraf is total, nuclear-armed chaos.
U.S. troops have in fact already done what the Illinois senator threatens he might order. In January 2006, they attacked al-Qaeda units in the Pakistani villages of Saidgi and Damadola, as reported in this column at the time, in an effort to force Musharraf to close down the terrorist sanctuaries. But there was no effective follow-up from Washington as Musharraf tap-danced his way through a meaningless "pacification" effort in Waziristan that has now run its course.
Pakistan continues to exist as a one-dimensional national security state, with its military fomenting crises in Kashmir and Afghanistan to justify the army's size and its control over the politicians. Pakistani commanders fight the tides of history as well as of democracy.
Turkey's generals seem to have understood that disaster lies down that road in the era of globalization. American policymakers need to understand, and support, the Ankara model rather than continuing to be dazzled by the fleet-footed general from Islamabad.
Posted by Hande Atay Alam at 5:57 PM