THE CASE AGAINST TURKEY'S RULING PARTY
By Dr. Michael Rubin
Although the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, and influential AKP advisers have tried to depict this as the unjust outgrowth of a dispute over headscarves in public universities — and perhaps even a "judicial coup" — the case is legitimate.
Erdogan's supporters often point to his embrace of the European Union accession process as proof of his commitment to constitutional democracy and the rule of law. But Erdogan has used the EU accession process to unravel Turkey's system of checks and balances. He cares little for EU institutions. When the European Court of Human Rights upheld a ban on headscarves in public schools — the same ban that the Turkey's own Constitutional Court later upheld — Erdogan chastised the European justices for applying civil law to a religious matter, declaring, "It is wrong that those who have no connection to this field [of religion] make such a decision … without consulting religious scholars."
Europe's encouragement of Turkish reforms has been important. In a mature constitutional democracy, the military should remain aloof from politics. Brussels should be applauded for pressuring Turkey to reform its National Security Council to give the powerful body a civilian majority, with a civilian head. By failing to encourage the creation of an alternate check-and-balance mechanism to replace the military's traditional role as guardian of the Constitution, however, the EU committed diplomatic malpractice. Erdogan seized the opportunity to run roughshod over Turkish secularism and constitutional democracy.
Indeed, despite its self-description as secular, constitutionalist and democratic, the AKP is quite the opposite. Babacan ordered Turkish officials to remove references to secularism from Turkey's position paper ahead of EU negotiations over education policy. Domestically, the AKP has placed religion above the law. Turkey has long regulated supplemental Koran schools, ensuring instructor qualifications and imposing minimum age requirements to prevent indoctrination. When Saudi mullahs fanned out across Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia to promote a radical version of Islam, they largely bypassed Turkey. No longer. Not only did the AKP loosen limits upon the religious schools, but it also eviscerated the penalties for violations, leading some illegal madrassas to begin advertising openly.
As he consolidates power, Erdogan has become the Turkish Vladimir Putin. Upon taking office, Erdogan sought to lower the mandatory retirement age for public servants from 65 to 61, which effectively allowed his party to appoint almost half of the nation's prosecutors and judges. With patronage appointments, the Prime Minister transformed technocratic bodies such as the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), an entity empowered to seize private businesses and media outlets, into virtual party wings. The TMSF today is staffed almost entirely by appointees transferred from Saudi-based financial institutions.
Placement in key ministries and government departments used to depend on success on civil service examinations. Erdogan imposed a subjective interview process that enabled him to choose political loyalists. The practice spread to state-owned industries; Turkish Airlines, for example, began quizzing employees on the Koran. Women have suffered the most. As analyst Soner Çagaptay observes in Newsweek, "under the AKP, women are largely excluded from decision-making positions in government and the workforce, relegated to the confines of their homes."
The AKP has even resorted to wiretapping the conversations of its political rivals. Late last month, Vakit, an Islamist paper close to the AKP, published a wiretap conversation between the opposition's deputy leader and a governor. This episode, which the media have called "Turkey's Watergate," has sent chills through the secular elite.
The AKP has also sought to diminish the power of Turkey's independent judiciary. In May, 2005, AKP Co-Founder and Parliamentary Speaker, Bülent Arinç, said that, if the Constitutional Court continued to declare AKP legislation unconstitutional, the AKP might simply dissolve it. When the Danistay, the country's supreme administrative court, ruled against the previous government's seizure of a bank and Erdogan's transfer of its European subsidiary to a political ally, the Prime Minister ignored the ruling.
Contrary to AKP claims, this Summer's Court decision will not mark the end of Turkish constitutional democracy, but, rather, its rebirth. Erdogan, too, will begin a new chapter. Even if he is banned from politics, a quirk in Turkish election law would allow him to seek office as an independent. In other words, Erdogan could conceivably wind up presiding over other AKP alumni as an independent prime minister.
Here, the issue is less ambition than immunity. When Erdogan leaves Parliament, he will face a multitude of corruption charges. While compiling his immense wealth, he has refused to give a full financial disclosure. As the clock runs out on his premiership, Erdogan has dispensed with even the appearance of legality. He has used the AKP's parliamentary majority to suppress investigation of a recent TMSF deal in which an opposition newspaper and television station were sold to an Erdogan ally after the Prime Minister interceded illegally. On June 18, 2008, Habertürk's Fatih Altayli reported that the Austrian energy firm OMV has submitted an affidavit swearing that Erdogan told OMV the way to unfreeze a $3 billion energy project would be to dump its longtime Turkish partner and work instead with his son-in-law. Perhaps, it should not be a surprise, then, that Erdogan has used what could be his last weeks as Prime Minister to appoint political loyalists to the Sayistay, Turkey's supreme court of accounts and audits, which will soon investigate his conduct.
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
American Foreign Policy -- Constitutional Democracy:
U.S. Promotion of Constitutional Democracy in Foreign Countries
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
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, June 20, 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-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/1924)
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor