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Erdogans gamble

Reader comment on item: Is Turkey Going Islamist?

Submitted by Werner (United States), Jun 9, 2005 at 02:19

Turkey isn't easy to predict.

Erdogan obviously plays a game. I believe he is internally a secular guy who uses the religious card to gain power. His party has as far as I know about 30 percent of the votes. So his rhetoric is to keep his sharia-wishing followers in line on the other hand he has to make sure the majority of turks believes he is only toying with the idea but isn't serious about it.

Turkey wants to become a member of the EU. Obviously the EU does definetely not want a sharia ruled member. Discussions of their membership started, an actual membership is decades away until then Turkey should be outwardly strictly secular.

Turkey has an Army with integrity. Apparently also a very capable Army. In the past they jumped in when politics were merely antics. The Army is strongly secular.

Rural Turkey is somewhat more religious and backward, urban Turkey is modern and carefree.

The dervishes and their orders are back. (I believe they have been forbidden by Ataturk). Dancing dervishes (Mevlevi order, founded by Rumi) has a strong backing in Turkey. The order is still run by his (family-) successors.

Turkey has a lot of migrant workers in Europe especially in Germany. The youngsters see the differences in their backward version of Islam and modern life in Germany. There are plenty of generational conflicts. which have reactions reaching into Turkey rural society.

Now Erdogan is balancing all things and that is somewhat entertaining to watch.

I guess he waits for the right moment to get Turkey into accepting the sharia, but that would mean that the whole country has to get behind it. Turkey has economically no way to go but to Europe. There is no big trade with the rest muslim world (they basically have no money), Russia is more concerned of their world, Africa isn't anything of a market, and the upstart asian countries have no interest in Turkey.

So Erdogan is in a mousetrap. If Erdogan goes islamic he alienates the Euros with strong mercantile repercussions means an economical decline in Turkey which he probably wouldn't survive. If Erdogan goes West he loses his support in the islamic fundamentalist world. So the best he can do now is nothing but keep up the rhetoric and see which direction the ship goes.

Maybe it's not a mousetrap but catch 22. it will take a little while until the turkish voters will figure out his dilemma and most propably boot him.

I wouldn't be overly concerned about Turkey going islamic.



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