THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA

An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Volume X, Issue # 112, April 30, 2008
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor
Government Committed to & Acting in Accord with Conservative Principles
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TURKEY'S UNCERTAIN FUTURE
By Dr. Michael Rubin

THE POLITICAL FUTURE OF TURKEY:  CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY, OR AUTHORITARIAN DICTATORSHIP?   THE RULE OF LAW & SEPARATION OF GOVERNMENT & RELIGION, OR ISLAMIST THEOCRACY & TYRANNY?  THE GOVERNING ELITE & ITS SUPPORTERS LEGALLY ACCOUNTABLE, OR ABOVE THE LAW?  LEGISLATIVE & EXECUTIVE SUPREMACY, OR RESPECT FOR THE JUCICIAL PROCESS?
FULL STORY:   The legal case against the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) is an affirmation of constitutional democracy, rather than an assault upon it. Constitutional democracy rests upon the rule of law and constitutionalism. Neither plurality support nor a majority in Parliament should place any politician or political party above the law.

The AKP deserves credit for the economic growth that has occurred under its stewardship and for supporting Turkey's accession into the European Union. There is no doubt that the AKP has revolutionized Turkish politics. In the 2002 election, it trounced the more established parties by out-campaigning them. The AKP has earned its reputation for serving its constituents.

Popularity and constitutional democracy are not synonymous, though. Turkish constitutionalism separates religion from party politics in order to preserve democracy. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has abused this separation. He has eroded the distinction between religious and public education, sought to retire forcibly several thousand secular judges who questioned his party's interpretations of the Constitution, and then moved to replace those judges with AKP apparatchiks. He also has instituted an interview process controlled by party loyalists designed to evaluate government technocrats on the basis of religiosity, rather than merit. Turkish Air employees have even been quizzed on their belief in the Koran.

No party or prime minister in Turkey's history has been so hostile to the press. Erdogan has sued dozens of journalists and editors. In a strategy borrowed from Iran, he has confiscated newspapers such as Sabah, the national daily which he deemed too critical or independent, and transferred their control to political allies. Journalists such as Vatan's Can Atakli and Reha Muhtar, television commentator Nihat Gen, Sky Turk's Serdar Akinan, and Kanal Trk's Tuncay zkan are now under fire either for their own criticism or, in the case of the television announcers, for their guests' criticism of the ruling party.

Erdogan has treated courts, both international and domestic, with disdain. After the European Court of Human Rights decided against permitting headscarves in Turkish universities, he declared that "only ulama [Islamic religious scholars] could" issue such a judgment. In several instances, Erdogan has refused to uphold the Supreme Court's decisions when it ruled against the AKP's confiscation of political opponents' property. In a moment reminiscent of Henry II, a follower gunned down a justice after the Prime Minister launched a fusillade against the Court.

Both AKP supporters and Western officials unfamiliar with the AKP's record paint the Court's actions as undemocratic. AKP supporters argue that the party represents democracy, and they seek to equate any opposition be it secular, nationalist, or judicial as Fascist. This is unfair. Ultra-nationalists who do not abide by the law find themselves in court, just as the AKP now does. The military has stayed on the sideline, as it should. Declaring its support for the Constitution in a written statement is not a coup.

Turkey is not alone in holding politicians legally accountable. In April, 2000, the European Parliament suspended French demagogue Jean-Marie Le Pen; soon afterward, Austrian politician Jrg Haider also faced sanction. The global community does not allow Hamas's popularity among the Palestinians to absolve it of responsibilities under international law.

True constitutional democracy requires respect for the judicial process. Let Erdogan have his day in court. We should respect the results as a sign that Turkey's constitutional democracy has matured.


LINKS TO RELATED TOPICS:
Turkey, the Middle East, & the U.S.A.

American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East

Middle East:  Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors

Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three    Page Two    Page One

International Politics & World Disorder:
War & Peace in the Real World

   Page Two    Page One

Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.

Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization

Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies

U.S. National Security Strategy

CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY & OTHER POLITICAL REGIMES
Modern Constitutional Democracy:
Fundamental Character & Essential Ingredients

Constitutionalism: The First Essential Ingredient
of Modern Constitutional Democracy

Dictatorship: The Opposite of Constitutionalism

Representative Democracy: The Second Essential Ingredient
of Modern Constitutional Democracy

Direct Democracy & Representative Democracy

Political Culture & Modern Constitutional Democracy

Modern Constitutional Democracy:
Summary & Conclusion



Dr. Michael Rubin, a Ph.D. in History (Yale University) and a specialist in Middle Eastern politics, Islamic culture and Islamist ideology, is Editor of the Middle East Quarterly, a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School, and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Dr Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001) and is co-author, with Dr. Patrick Clawson, of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Dr. Rubin served as political advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (2003-2004); staff advisor on Iran and Iraq in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense (2002-2004); visiting lecturer in the Departments of History and International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2001-2002); visiting lecturer at the Universities of Sulaymani, Salahuddin, and Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan (2000-2001); Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1999-2000); and visiting lecturer in the Department of History at Yale University (1999-2000). He has been a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Leonard Davis Institute at Hebrew University, and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.


The foregoing article by Dr. Rubin was originally published in The American, April 30, 2008, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis--vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/1888)


Republished with Permission of the Middle East Forum
Reprinted from the Middle East Forum News
mefnews@meforum.org (MEF NEWS)
April 30, 2008




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