Dar Al Hayat (Lebanon)
April 8, 2010 Thursday
Ayoon wa Azan
What are the Other Goals of Erdogan’s Government?
BYLINE: Jihad el-Khazen
The Turkish army is protecting the secular state that was founded by
Ataturk and has staged four military coups against civilian
governments since 1960, the last of which toppled Islamic Prime
Minister Necmettin Erbakan in 1997. Brother Fahmi Huweidi and I were
interviewing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the
inauguration of the Arabic-speaking Al Turkiye channel, while –
between questions – I could not stop thinking about the ongoing
confrontation between his government and the secular Turks supported
by the army, wondering whether the prime minister will be able to
achieve his goals or will meet the fate of his predecessors.
My last question during the interview surfaced against the backdrop of
my knowledge about the role of the Turkish army in political life.
Erdogan chose to point to the constitutional amendments his government
proposed in response to the conditions of the European Union to ensure
the accession of Turkey to it, seeing how this is one of the goals of
the current government.
Erdogan’s government came a long way to meet the membership
prerequisites, thus bettering the climate of democracy in the country
although those opposing it are saying it is a selective democracy
because it has so far failed to include the rights of the minorities
such as the Armenians, Christians and Alawites as it did with the
Kurds whose demands were for the most part responded to.
Turkey wants a full membership in the European Union but is facing the
opposition of powerful European states. For their part, Germany and
France prefer an exceptional partnership with Turkey without engaging
in the details of what makes this partnership exceptional.
Nonetheless, I feel that neither democracy nor the other conditions
will thwart the efforts of the Turkish government, rather Cyprus,
since the reunification of the island is hitting many obstacles and
parliamentary elections will be held in it in weeks and may entail the
victory of a nationalist candidate insisting on the independence of
the Northern part and opposing the wishes of Ankara’s government. This
will definitely hinder the goal behind the membership.
But what are the other goals of Erdogan’s government? Enhanced
Coverage LinkingErdogan’s government? -The Justice and Development
Party won the 2002 elections when the term of parliament was of five
years, before it was later amended to four years. It then won the 2007
elections and I believe it is highly likely that it will win the 2011
elections in light of its wide and striking popularity. Indeed,
although the nationalists and the seculars may compete with it in the
big cities such as Ankara and Istanbul, its popular base in the
Anatolian countryside is stable, so as not to say prevalent. Moreover,
the party is now benefitting from a strong economy which was struck by
the global financial crisis at first, but was then handled by the
party in a smart way, thus emerging from this crisis unharmed as the
last quarter of last year witnessed a 6% increase in the gross
Without the help of a crystal ball, I believe that the Justice and
Development Party will likely win the upcoming elections and that
Recep Tayyip Erdogan will remain Prime Minister for the next two years
or so. Afterwards, and this is how I perceive the situation: he will
move to the presidency and President Abdullah Gul will become prime
minister. The latter will then be followed at the head of the party
and the Cabinet by Ahmet Davutoglu who is the rising star in Turkish
politics and has surrounded himself with some of the best minds in
Turkish political life, at a time when the entire party with its
Islamic background is accused of appointing in the government people
whom it trusts instead of people enjoying competence and of enjoying a
secret agenda to annihilate the secular state.
However, among the most important goals of the Turkish government is
probably one which is not getting the media coverage it so deserves.
It is a new strategy for the region which is being set up by Davutoglu
who believes that the countries in the region are divided as though
the Cold War was still ongoing, and is thus seeking the establishment
of a regional order that would manage the region in accordance with
its interests and based on a vision encompassing both Turkey and the
Arab countries, and would gradually contain the role of Israel and
that of Iran later on.
There are bumps along the road, since although the strategy of the
foreign minister reflects the heritage of the Islamic group, he is
opposed by its symbols inside the party who prefer to deal with each
other to the point where they would choose the supporters at the
expense of the more qualified.
As for the European position toward Turkey, it features a confirmed
racism no matter how much the latter racism is wrapped with false
excuses. The European Union includes states whose populations have
aged and are over fifty, at a time when the majority of the Turks are
young and needed by the European Union to ensure its rejuvenation. I
then see the opposition of Turkey’s youth and dare say it is because
they are Muslims.
Yet, I expect the Justice and Development Party to secure more
successes and hope so because it is the Arabs’ natural ally. On the
other hand and luckily for Abdullah Gul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ahmet
Davutoglu and their companions, the nationalist and secular opposition
in Turkey has aged like the Europeans and there are no real
competitors in the face of the main figures of the Justice and
Development Party in the near future.