Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘“Turkish model”

Defining the “Turkish model”

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After a few happy months, I once again stumbled upon the counterfeit concept of the “Turkish model,” which had neither form nor matter before Arab dictators started spontaneously going out of vogue. Since then, the concept has served as a lodestone for all varieties of vacuous Middle-East punditry. Today, however, a colleague managed to ease my rage at the unremitting concept by supplying an amusing ex tempore definition of the “model.”

. . . what American policymakers think Arab dissidents think about Turkish populism.

Accurate or not, I think that this “definition” suggests that the concept has outlived its usefulness. The democratization ruse in Egypt, the resignation of Ennahda in Tunisia, the stalemate in Syria, and the Gezi Park protests have, after all, stripped the idea of its original, hopeful context. The reality has always been more complex than the concept suggested.

But the columnists clamor for bread. If nothing remains to be said about the “Turkish model,” then a new concept, equally myopic, will grace your doorstep soon.

Written by M. James

October 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Pruning Egypt

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Wrong place, wrong time.

Wrong place, wrong time.

As Egypt is smoothly placed back in the hands of those who have been guiding it all along, we are left to wonder just how early Morsi was cut loose, or indeed, if the military ever intended him to remain in office.

With the benefit of hindsight, it certainly seems that Morsi—and his party—was set up for the public spectacle of failure. The symbol of his fate—an essential $4.8bn IMF loan that ended in a mess of red tape and red herrings—was unquestionably stalled by design, and with predictable results. The IMF interlocutors knew that no loan meant a poor debt rating, a poor debt rating meant no other loans, no other loans meant no more bread, and no more bread meant no more Morsi. Tried and true, this method would have a very predictable timeframe for a breaking point of civil unrest. The subsequent ease of the transition is testament to the military’s knowledge of, and preparation for, that very situation.

What remains to be seen, of course, is whether this was the result of a working agreement, mutual understanding, or mutual interest between the Egyptian military and the IMF (and all that the IMF represents). If this is the case, we can expect—at the very least—some form of inconspicuous aid to slip into Egypt’s coffers very soon to assuage the truly destitute and stabilize the political scene for the “new” government. It would, after all, be unsportsmanlike for the IMF to grant the much-disputed $4.8bn loan immediately following Morsi’s ouster.

The implications of this relationship—if it exists—are fascinating, as it would amount to a careful and concerted effort by many influential actors to shape Egypt in much the same way Turkey was shaped for its first 74 years. I.e., a good coup d’état every now and then. Or, more palatably, “democracy on training wheels.” Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party may only be the first of many examples made, precedents set, and branches pruned in the nascent Egyptian multi-party system.

So if the Egyptian people suddenly stop clamoring for bread in the next few weeks, you’ll know why—and what it may mean.

Written by M. James

July 4, 2013 at 7:57 am

Iskandar on Turkey, Bahrain

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Though the following article is nothing spectacular, it haphazardly touches on some worthwhile points. First, there’s the pressure on Turkey to intervene in Syria, which I noted in a prior post (“Taşpınar prods Turkey”). Second, there’s the assertion that secularism—rather than democracy—is the reason the Turkish model is incompatible with Arab states. Finally, there’s the criticism of Al-Jazeera for not covering the protests in Bahrain—a valid criticism that AJE has apparently taken note of (I, II, III).

Turkey pushed over Syria
İpek Yezdani; Hürriyet; Feb. 20, 2012

Adel Iskandar, an Arab media scholar, says it is in the interest of a lot of countries to push Turkey to intervene in Syrian crisis, which rocks the country for nearly 1 year, a move that could be injurious to Turkey

Turkey is in a very difficult situation vis-à-vis Syria since many Western countries are pushing it to intervene in its southern neighbor, a prominent Arab media scholar has said, adding that such an attack would not benefit Ankara.

“A lot of countries are refraining from getting involved in Syria militarily, and it is in the interest of a lot of countries to push Turkey to intervene Syria. But the reality is, is that it might not be in Turkey’s best interest,” Adel Iskandar, a lecturer at Georgetown University, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The Syria case is a true tragedy in every sense of the term because the Syrian people are caught between two unfavorable situations: On one side, there is the authoritarian, bloody-minded regime of Bashar al-Assad and, on the other, there is the threat of foreign intervention which they don’t trust but they might need out of necessity,” Iskander told the Daily News on the sidelines of a conference he gave at Istanbul’s Bilgi University.

A military intervention against Syria would not be “as easy as Libya,” he said. “Al-Assad still has some supporters. They will fight to the last minute. And this would lead to a full-fledged war between Syrians themselves. Turkey finds itself at the center of all of this. An attempt to stabilize Syria might destabilize Syria more.”

Turkish model unique

Iskandar also noted the importance of differences between Turkey and the Arab Spring countries.
“Holding up Turkey as an example to the Arab world is an oversimplification and not useful to anyone,” Iskandar said.

“The Turkish experiment is extremely unique, and its long history starts with the post-Ottoman area and [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk. Each country has to devise its own way toward democracy. [The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)] is not the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafis. And you are not going to be able to turn the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafis into the AK Party in one night,” Iskandar said.

Iskandar said holding up Turkey as a model for the Arab Spring countries honored neither the Arab world nor Turkey. “Turkey is not an entirely Middle Eastern country. It is a cosmopolitan nation, it has its own particularities. And these particularities are completely different from Libya, for instance,” Iskandar said.
Iskandar drew attention to the fact that the “Turkish model is framed on the notion that secularism is an important part of the state structure.”

“However, the majority of the Arab world doesn’t have secularism in politics. Even [toppled Egyptian leader] Hosni Mubarak was not secular. The term ‘secular’ in the Arab world is considered an extremely negative term. You can’t call yourself ‘secular’ in the Arab world. Besides, people want religion to be a part of politics. It is in the opposite direction to Turkey’s state traditions. It has to be seen through a historical lens,” Iskandar said.

‘Al-Jazeera neglected Bahrain completely’

Iskandar, who has written one of the most prominent books on Qatar’s Al-Jazeera news network, also discussed how the channel has covered the ongoing Arab Spring.

“To a large extent, Al-Jazeera did the job they should be doing by covering the story that unfolded. At the end of the day, Al-Jazeera has made its bread and butter from political protests. So it was natural for Al-Jazeera to cover the protests,” he said.

However, Iskandar said there were some uprisings that the channel had completely neglected.

“Like in Bahrain. [In terms of the] percentage of the protestors, the Bahraini movement is the largest movement in the Arab Spring. However, the saddest situation is that while the Bahraini and Syrian revolts started at the same time of the year; one year after that Syrian is getting 99 percent of the coverage while Bahrain is only getting 0.01 percent of the coverage. This is going to hurt the network and its credibility in the eyes of the public,” Iskandar said.

Written by M. James

February 20, 2012 at 1:32 am

Tunisia takes to Turkish model

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Tunisian constitution will make no place for faith
Tom Heneghan; Reuters; Nov. 4, 2011

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s Islamist-led government will focus on democracy, human rights and a free-market economy in planned changes to the constitution, effectively leaving religion out of the text it will draw up, party leaders said.

The government, due to be announced next week, will not introduce sharia or other Islamic concepts to alter the secular nature of the constitution in force when Tunisia’s Arab Spring revolution ousted autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January.

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Written by M. James

November 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm

The “Turkish model” and a cold shoulder

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And by now I owe an explanation for an unsupported claim in a previous post. My claim was that the prevailing Western attitude toward the Republic of Turkey, as embodied by an excerpt from Stephen Kinzer’s Crescent and Star, is one that pushes Turkey—a country predisposed to Western ideals—away from the West. I do not think that it is the intention of Kinzer or those who share his attitude (of whom there are many) to do this, but it is happening all the same.

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