IFIMES – the International Institute for Inter-Religious, Multiethnic and Middle-East Studies in Ljubljana analyses events going on in the world. The analysis of the situation in Turkey is the contribution to the better understanding of events in Iraq and the region. The most interesting sections are given below.
An Eastern legend says that miracles can happen only to prophets and... politicians. Well, in case of the Turkish Justice and Welfare AKP Party and its president Recep Tayip Erdogan, we have seen a double miracle happen.
Erdogan has become a prophet in the eyes of the Turkish people and an influential politician with absolute majority in the Turkish parliament, although he has got no political function yet in the Parliament nor in the government.
The victory of AKP shocked all the protagonists, who were carefully observing the functioning of all Turkish governments. In this respect we should point out the Turkish army which has played a crucial role in the national policy ever since the founding of the state on the ruins of the old Ottoman Empire in 1920. The army has always regarded itself as the guardian of the secular and pro-European heritage. During political and economic crises, it has even intervened and overthrown legitimately elected governments several times (1960, 1971, 1980 in 1997).
Today, Turkey is facing a double political and economic crisis, therefore the army has, in accordance with all the rules of Turkish political heritage, the reason for another intervention and takeover of the power. When his AKP party won, Erdogan denied the office of prime minister to Abdulah Gul. This was prohibited by the constitution since he was sentenced to four months in prison for his notorious intolerant poetry (Mosques are our barracks, minarets are our bayonets, the believers are our Mujahids...).
The analysts were of the opinion that AKP would, as the other preceding Turkish leading parties, preserve the conventional political approach in resolving the burning issues and that it would, in the best case, implement the pro-islamistic policy related to other islamistic parties around the world.
American pressures on Turkey to pass its demands for 62,000 American soldiers to be placed on its territory and to agree to co-ordinated collaboration with the Kurdish forces on the north of Iraq (when the north front opens under American command) in exchange for $ 30 billion in form of aid and loan security fell through after the voting in the parliament. AKP's political manoeuvres prove that this declared pro-Western party with islamistic roots has an utterly new approach not only towards dealing with the Iraqi crisis but also in all other issues such as the EU, Cyprus and orientation towards the Islamic states. At the same time, these tendencies have no negative effect on close alliance with the USA and on military-strategic agreements with Israel.
The voting in the Turkish parliament can be regarded as the double victory of the party leader, Erdogan. He made it clear to all the protagonists of the political and military Turkey who runs the show.
He won his first victory at the repeated parliamentary elections in the Siirt region (9 March 2003) which opened him the door to take over the office of prime minister. As the prime minister he will most probably send American demands to the parliament for the second discussion and as the charismatic leader order his deputies with the majority in the parliament to vote for the adoption of the package. And that would be his second victory.
According to American-Turkish agreement, Turkey would have an important role in the after-war regulation of the region. This item therefore presents the main gain for Turkey in order to show the West that it is not "the patient from Bosporus", as the Ottoman Empire was named at the beginning of the 20th century and also after the voting in the parliament in the beginning of March 2003 on placing the American forces.
Erdogan is well aware that the future role of Turkey in this regulation would give Turkey the position it used to have during the period of the cold war and the USSR. However, the Americans are giving serious thought to substitute bases in the Turkish neighbourhood (the constant – Romania, Bulgaria, Tbilisi – Georgia, Iraq...).
Erdogan succeeded in having the army side with the government in this internal crisis. The preceding prime minister, Necmettin Erbekan, did not manage to resolve (dis)agreements with the army and was deposed in 1997 from his office of prime minister.
According to the opinion of the IFIMES Institute, the Turkish recipe can be useful also for other countries which face doubts in taking sides towards different world crises – one of them being also Slovenia – and find themselves at the internal political crossroads not between the army and the government (and the parliament) but between the government and the citizens.
The Turkish government has to look for better solutions which would take into account the will of the people as well as the American demands and at the same time to find as many political and economic items as possible (according to this equation). Of course, that is not enough, since it should not be in contradiction with Turkey's position of the future member of the EU which does not have a unified common policy not only towards the issue of resolving the Iraqi crisis but also towards other issues (such as the North Korea and Palestinian-Israeli crises etc.).