Turkey begins to assert its Islamic identity

Turkey begins to assert its Islamic identity

Source: Crescent Online

By Cemal Ahmedoglu

In the past several months, relations between Turkey and the Zionist entity have started to change dramatically. At the height of the Gaza war a year ago, Turkey’s support for Palestinian resistance was second only to Iran. Turkey’s support would not have been so surprising if it was not for the fact that it is the only Muslim member of NATO and the center of cultural and social secularization of Muslim society. Recent diplomatic quarrels between the Zionist entity and Turkey, which have gone on for about a year now, signal not just a change in policy but also a strategic turn by Turkey. This shift in the Turkish approach toward Israel will have far reaching implications for the Muslim world.

The Domestic Trigger

Since the imposition of Kemalist secularism as official dogma, the military has been the key instrument to prevent Islamic revival in Turkish society. During the cold war every political disagreement with the established authoritarian scheme in Turkey known as “democracy” was dealt with very harshly under the banner of fighting communism. After the Cold War the continuous mismanagement and corruption of the Western-backed political establishment created an urge in Turkish society to revive its Islamic roots in order to solve its problems.

The strong social, economic and political program presented by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was embraced by the overwhelming majority of Turkish people. The huge support received by the AKP due to its Islamic orientation eliminated the possibility of an open military coup to dislodge the people’s government. However, the long entrenched secular establishment, backed by the US and Israel, had many institutional resources at its disposal to combat Islamic revival. Ironically one of these institutions which Israel helped to create laid the groundwork for Turkey’s break with Israel.

Ergenekon, the principal clandestine institution that at-tempted to overthrow the present government, alarmed the elected government of Turkey untying its hands, making it more aware of the vast network of former officials. The Ergenekon case evol-ved from the discovery of a weapons cache in Trabzon in 2007 into what the Turks have branded “the case of the century”. The discovery of weapons led to uncovering the clandestine institution which was actively preparing to instigate chaos in Turkey and seize power in order to halt the Islamic revival.

The number of documents, weapons and testimonies acquired during the investigation led to the arrest and the ongoing trial of 86 influential people. The list of people on trial includes military generals, intelligence officers, journalists, former judges, businessmen and even a high ranking member in the Orthodox Church. The trial also uncovered the close ties between the Ergenekon group and the Israeli Mossad that has also contributed to undermining relations between the current Turkish government and Israel. The Ergenekon case provided a legitimate reason for the ruling AKP party to crack down on the secularist military establishment in Turkey. Exposure of the truly criminal nature of Ergenekon members, many of whom had ties to the military totally discredited the military establishment in Turkish society.

After the Ergenekon case the AKP realized that no matter how much they give in to the demands of Washington and Tel Aviv, they would never be accepted as equal partners simply because of their independent views on many key policy matters. Therefore, the groundwork for the Turkish and Israeli break was triggered by Israel’s meddling in the domestic affairs of Turkey. Those familiar with Turkish mindset know that the one thing no Turk will ever tolerate is external interference in their domestic policies. Therefore, Turkish-Israeli relations have been greatly damaged at a popular level. They are not likely to revert to the old style again.

The Wider Implications

During the period of Turkey’s forcible secularization, NATO invested huge sums in the Turkish military leading to the creation of one of the strongest armed forces in the world. The shift of this hard power for Turkey’s new vision that is rooted in its return toward its Islamic past will dramatically shift the balance of power in the world. First, Turkey’s shift away from Israel will completely unmask the treacherous nature of Arabian regimes simply because Ankara knows that in order to regain its historic place in the Middle East it must appeal to the Arab street. It will have to support the struggle in Palestine and Lebanon as it has already started doing.

The fact that the Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri spoke out against UN resolution 1559 during his January trip to Turkey, shows that Turkey is managing to bridge the gap between the anti- and pro-resistance factions in Lebanon. Turkey also has a common interest with Syria and Iraq in countering US-backed Kurdish separatists. Ever since the US occupied Iraq it has created a safe haven for Kurdish fringe groups in Iraq to create instability in Iran. This however also negatively affects Turkey since many PKK terrorists also operate from the US established safe havens.

It is only natural that Turkey will take a harsher stance against the Zionist occupation of Palestine in order to gain greater acceptance among the Arab masses. The more Turkey supports the Palestinian resistance, the more nervous the autocrats in Cairo, Amman and Riyadh will become because it exposes their incompetence to the larger Muslim masses. The Turkish government is able to change its policies now because it has a huge support among the Turkish people. Foreign powers will, therefore, not be able to exert internal pressure on the AKP to keep it as a US-Zionist proxy in the Middle East.

The Turkish return to its pre-Kemalist identity will also influence its policies in the Caucasus and the Turkic states of Central Asia. Turkey will be more accepting of changes there compared to its current preference of maintaining the status quo. The fact that Turkey openly aided Georgia during the Russian aggression of 2008 is a strong signal in that direction. Turkey’s ability to find a common ground with Russia on developing joint energy routes as an alternative to the US-backed NABUCCO oil and gas pipelines, will allow Turkey to use its energy transitory position to resist Russian pressure in Central Asia. In the past, if Turkey had no tangible economic leverage over Russia in pursuing its own interests in Central Asia, Moscow’s need for Turkey to remain the key energy supplier to Europe gives Ankara a strong bargaining position. Taking into account the Russian government’s thirst for money, it will not be difficult to convince Moscow to grant some concessions in the post-Soviet area in return for helping the Russian government to get the much needed euros for its oil and gas supplies to Europe.

Turkey’s reassertion of its independence from the US and Zionist domination will also bolster its position in the EU. Since most of the Turkish population in the EU is highly discriminated against and completely alienated, Ankara’s outreach to them will increase. Most Turks living in Europe are religious and many left Turkey because of Kemalism. A more Islamically-oriented Turkey will make them more attached to their homeland; this will serve as leverage against the EU’s discriminatory approach towards Turkey.

It is hard to tell exactly what form Turkey’s strategic policy shift will take. One thing, however, is clear: if its policy shift gets stuck in the neo-Ottoman mindset of mostly Turkish nationalism with a little bit of Islamic flavor, Turkey will fail to win the trust of the Arabs. If Turkey does not win their trust, its comeback as a regional player will be uncertain. If the anti-Islamic forces inside and outside Turkey manage to use the Islamic credentials of AKP for narrow nationalistic interests, Turkey will be no better than Saudi Arabia. If Turkey truly wants to gain its rightful position in the region it must not be afraid to break with Kemalist established taboos.


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