by K. Gajendra Singh http://www.boloji.com/analysis2/0559.html , www.rebelnews.orgetc
"And the young man was Abdullah Gul, recently home after a stint (7 years) at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah and put in charge of foreign affairs by Najmettin Erbakan, President of Islamist Welfare party. Most ambassadors in
"Our paths crossed more often after he became state minister in Erbakan's coalition government in 1996. Once when I enquired about his party's plans to convert a church in west
From: Abdullah Gul – Turkey's Next President!
Their wanting a share in the economic cake clashes with the vested interests of the supporters of the secular establishment which has ruled
In April , 2007 AKP had 354 seats in the Parliament and needed a two-thirds majority vote in the House in the first or second rounds (367 of 550) or a simple majority in the third (276) or fourth. If four rounds fail, Parliament is dissolved for fresh elections. This Constitutional change was made after the 1980 military take over since prior to that the Parliament went through dozens of futile ballots to elect a president while left-right violence around the country killed many hundreds.
However , the 2002 November Parliamentary elections had stunned
Gul, moderate and soft spoken, became Prime Minister in November 2002 and his party's landslide victory allowed the Constitution to be amended for party chief Recep Tayipp Erdogan, who had been barred from elections, to enter Parliament in a bye election. He took over from Gul in March, 2003. Erdogan was tried for utterances like "Minarets are our bayonets, domes are our helmets, mosques are our barracks, believers are our soldiers," convicted and jailed for 4 months. He had also said "Thank God, I am for Shariah," "For us, democracy is a means to an end." (Shades of Islamic Salvation Front in
To allay Western fears Gul and Erdogan went on a charm offensive to Washington and European capitals saying that AKP was a moderate right of centre party. Its well educated leadership in western attire was a relief compared to Islamic leadership elsewhere. Their apparent fervor to join Europe Union established party's Western credentials.
Later the party would cleverly use EU's
It has however become quite clear that
But in spite of all AKP endeavors in April 2007 Gul failed to get the required 2/3rd votes in the first round. The opposition RPP with its one third of the seats, refused to enter the Parliament, thus 'even the quorum was not established'. Later it filed with the
Apparently, it was a coordinated maneuver by the secular establishment and the Chief of General Staff (CGS) issued the statement that "It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces is one of the sides in this debate and the absolute defender of secularism." It added, "When necessary, they will display its stance and attitudes very clearly. No one should doubt that."
The AKP government rebuked the military; it was "unthinkable" for the institution (military) to challenge its political leaders in a democracy. "It is out of the question to withdraw my candidacy," Gul insisted on 29 April.
The armed forces, which under Ataturk built up a secular unitary state are self styled custodians of Kemalism including secularism. The word used for secular is laic (la din; anti-religion), more Jacobin than secular. During a visit to
There are three centers of power in
The Turkish president is no figure head. He has the power to veto legislation, appoint judges, university rectors and other posts. The last secular President Ahmet Sezer, used his powers to check and restrain the AKP government.
AKP has attempted to criminalize adultery, restrict alcohol sales and lift a ban on Islamic headscarves in public places. It even tried to intervene in the autonomy of the military, which expels suspected Islamist officers each year.
The Turkish press was unanimous in calling on the Government and the army to resolve their differences democratically with early elections as the only way out. The armed forces have intervened twice directly; in 1961 and 1980 and twice changed regimes; in 1971 and 1997. But after cleaning up the mess created by the politicians and getting a new constitution in place, the self-styled custodians of Kemal Ataturk's legacy of secularism, as usual, returned to the barracks. The judiciary has regularly closed religious and extremist political parties and debarred its politicians.
In his inauguration speech Gul again sought to dispel secularist opponents' fears that he and the AKP have a secret Islamist agenda.
Compared to Erdogan, Gul's elevation was palatable to
A fascinating struggle continues between secularists and those trying to inject Islam as a cultural, social or spiritual input in the political and daily life of
The importance of fights over Islamic symbols which can be used as a wedge in a society cannot be under estimated. And then during Erbakan's tenures and since 2002 posts in bureaucracy are going to party faithfuls or sympathizers. The concept of neutral bureaucracy is not strong in
Erdogan was elected Mayor of Istanbul in 1995 and was a great success. In the 1996 coalition headed by Erbakan, Gul became a State Minister .In 1997 the military forced Erbakan to resign for not curbing Muslim fundamentalism. Later Erbakan's party was closed and he was banned from political activity.
Erdogan's jail experience was traumatic and a turning point. He and others like Gul saw the futility of fighting against the secular establishment on an Islamic agenda. In 2001 they established AKP.
Crucible of over 40 civilizations,
At the same time the simple Central Asian nomad conquerors of the Byzantine Empire , moving from east to west named villages, forts, mountains, rivers and seas; white, black, green or red. Leaders like Demirel would describe a dangerous political crisis as passing through a narrow pass (like Turcoman tribes and their herds). Or another leaders Mesut Yillmaz might use the phrase 'I have taken out my sword to fight 'a political battle'. Their sibling like political rivalries are more akin to tribal vendettas. The Republican Constitution and the electoral system endows political party chairmen with excessive arbitrary powers, so many group leaders behave like powerful tribal chiefs, branching off with their flocks and clans or persisting with their rigid positions instead of democratic give and take. But under pressure, the deeply engrained but dormant Byzantine proclivities are not far from the surface.
Following the 1971 memorandum by the Turkish military, which had forced prime minister Demirel to resign, a national Government under the military's shadow was in place to conduct the 1973 Presidential elections. The pugnacious and ambitious Gen Faruk Gurler, a major force behind the memorandum, first made Chief of General Staff (CGS) Gen Tamac hand over a day before the due date and took over as the new CGS. He then resigned and presented himself as the Military's candidate to replace President Cevdet Sunay, also a former CGS.
Demirel and Bulent Ecevit, leaders of the 2 major political formations along with other politicians, in spite of the Military brass occupying the parliament galleries, gave a stunning display of Byzantine intrigue at its best, with the Parliament going through the motions of voting round after another round. Inconclusively. The politicians tired out the now unsure and somewhat divided Military in a virtuoso performance, which would have made their Byzantine ancestors proud. Finally, a compromise was reached on a retired and innocuous Naval Commander Fahri Koruturk, who was installed the new President. A rejected and dejected Gurler died a few years later, forgotten and unsung.
At the end of bloody 1970s during which intra- religious, intra-ethnic and left right violence left tens of thousands dead in Turkey, leaving its polity scarred and divided, in April 1980 President Koruturk's term ended, but Demirel and Ecevit would not agree on a candidate. For five months hundreds of rounds of voting were conducted in the Parliament, without any result. This was a display of clannish obstinacy and total abdication of political responsibility.
Gen Kenan Evren then took over in September 1980 much to everyone's relief, banned political parties and debarred political leaders. As a measure of abundant caution, the 1983 Constitution prepared under the military regime provided dissolution of the Parliament if it fails to elect a new President after four rounds. Gen. Evren stayed head of state until 1989. In 1992, on my return to
It is as if the custodians of Ataturk's secular legacy, merit based Armed Forces since the days of Janissaries, modernized by the French and the Germans during late Ottoman era and since 1950s as part of NATO, are trying to guide Turkish society towards modernity and western contemporary values, a polity with tribal overlay over a Byzantine past and nature, from chaos and obduracy to conformity and order. Even by changing the Constitutions, thrice in the last 40 years; a liberal 1961 Constitution was replaced in 1983 by one restricting freedoms.
Scarf, Turban and the Veil
Not only secularists vehemently oppose the idea of this Islamic attire in the presidential palace in Cankaya, it is legally banned in public places. On this point Gul had said, "Everyone should pay respect to this choice.
However tensions had started building up between
In April 2003 president Sezer, and the top military brass led by CGS General Hilmi Ozkok, refused to attend a reception at parliament house hosted by the speaker, Bulent Arinc of the AKP, to mark National Sovereignty and Children's Day, as hostess Munnever Arinc planned to wear a Muslim head scarf. The opposition, left of the center People's Republican Party (RPP), also boycotted the reception. A last-minute announcement that Mrs Arinc would not attend the reception came too late.
In June 2004 a seven-judge panel of the European Court of Human Rights ruled against a petition by a Turkish medical student who was banned in 1998 from wearing a head scarf by
Although the custom of covering women with head scarves is now generally associated with Islamic societies, the practice predates Islamic culture by many millennia. Veiling and seclusion were marks of prestige and status symbols in the Assyrian, Greco-Roman and Byzantine empires, as well as in Sasanian
But in recent history, the veil or hijab has been used to make political statements, in Muslim countries like
On Indian corporate channels debates are conducted on the veil in
See Lifting the Veil in France and Turkey - 16 September, 2004
"Our main aim is to end the discrimination experienced by a section of society just because of their personal beliefs," said AKP parliamentarian Sadullah Ergin. Because of the ban, many covered women go abroad to study. This included the daughters of prime minister Erdogan who went to a
It is true that 60% of Turks would prefer ban on scarf lifted.
But it is a specious argument.
It may have marked a historical moment in the ongoing struggle between religion and secularism in a predominantly Muslim country. But concerns remain in
Announcing the verdict the Court chairman Hasim Kilic, said 6 members of the court had voted in favor of closing the party, while the remaining four concluded that the party's "anti-secular activities" did not deserve a ban. At least seven votes are needed to impose a ban. Kilic's own vote against a ban of the AKP was crucial in the court's verdict.
Kilic said, "It is not a decision to close down the party, but it is a serious warning," emphasizing that the AKP should ponder very carefully and draw its own conclusions.
The case to ban the AKP was filed on March 14, by
In the tense atmosphere gripping Turkey the first indication of a possible compromise came from Mark Parris, former US ambassador to Ankara, who said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on July 16 that the "odds to find a way out are stronger than a month ago." Many senior officials of the Bush administration made it clear that
More than at home and in the financial market European governments heaved a collective sigh of relief, while commentators were circumspect about the significance of the judgment .But after the tension and unease this was perhaps the least worst decision. Islamist political parties and those on the left have been banned many times in the past.
More than anything else it was the instability created around
The court issued a clear warning that the ruling party should refrain from any further measures which encroach on the secular fabric of the Republic and privileges or power of the country's long-standing secular Kemalist establishment.
But the decision is just another pause before the Islamists and the secularists eye each other for a political re-match .
The World Socialist Web Site commented." Against this background, the rivalry between the feuding factions of the Turkish bourgeoisie could explode into new conflict at any time. President Abdullah Gul is due to appoint three new members of the
Commented Yusuf Kanli, a veteran Turkish journalist " the AKP now has to demonstrate that it indeed got the message the court issued and start moderating itself by giving up the post July 22 majority obsession, lending an ear to what the opposition says and try to understand sentiments of the secularists. Thus the AKP and the prime minister must try to soothe tensions rather than refusing to acknowledge his and the AKP`s share in the alarming level of polarization Turkey has been surfing in for some time.
"For example, the prime minister must swiftly act now to conform with the local and international court rulings regarding compulsory religious education in Turkish schools, realize the pain of non-Sunnis as well as non-Muslims because of compulsory Muslim Sunni indoctrination at our secondary schools.
"The AKP and Erdogan must understand that the Constitutional Court underlined in all clarity that the arrogant "What if turban is a political symbol" approach undermining secularist concerns and ignoring reform demands in all other areas except enhancing religious freedoms did no good to anyone."
"Thus if Turkish Constitutional Court judged the amendments in question unconstitutional on the bases of the unchangeable articles it would have still not have gone as far stretching its jurisdiction as the great Indian Supreme Courts did, in defense of the unwritten "basic structure" of the Indian Constitution. Admittedly, the Indian Constitution was democratically made, and there the Court could arguably defend the work of the democratic pouvoir constituant, against mere governmental organs, including the qualified parliamentary majority. In
The Republican state was created by a secular military after a long war of independence under Kemal Ataturk giving the nation its secular Constitution, so the Kemalist establishment is a major stakeholder. It would not allow what could have happened in
It must be remembered that in the 'the Book' based polity of Islam, the lines between the Mir and the Pir, the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler still remain blurred, contested and changing. Look at what has happened in
The charges were: "membership in an armed terrorist group"; "aiding and abetting an armed terrorist organization"; "attempting to destroy the government of the Republic of Turkey"; "inciting people to rebel against the Republic of Turkey"; "being in possession of explosives, using them, and inciting others to commit these crimes"; "encouraging soldiers to disobey superiors"; "openly provoking hatred and hostility"; and other similar crimes.
The specific crimes cover the 2006 armed attack on the Council of State High Courthouse, where one High Court judge was killed; and a shooting and hand-grenade attack at the
Basically it is an attempt to discredit Turkish armed forces , which had created the National Security Council (NSC) to channelize complaints and grievances from midlevel military officers. It avoided many Colonel led coups .NSC was constituted in
Ergenekon is a mythical place located in the inaccessible valleys of the
Is Erdoğan's party a threat to Turkish secularism, or the product of it? Does the AKP represent an Islamist Trojan horse, or the benign Islamic equivalent of
AKP came to power on the strength of its image as fresh and honest party amid a sea of corrupt establishment parties, but AKP's own finances have become murky , blurring the distinction between business and politics. Turkish domestic and foreign policy is influenced by the influx of what is called Yesil Sermaye, "green money," from wealthy Islamist businessmen and Middle Eastern states.
Some Turkish professional bureaucrats, businessmen, journalists, and even politicians raised the question of Saudi money flowing into AKP coffers through green money business intermediaries. "The problem is
While Turkish journalists and officials acknowledge that Saudi investment in
While Erdoğan has been silent on the issue, in August 2001, Rahmi Koç, chairman of
Much of the money enters
Official Turkish statistics provide some clue as to the scope of the problem. Between 2002 and 2003, the summary balance of payments for net error and omission category—basically unexplained income—increased from $149 million to almost $4 billion. This is an eighty-year record error. In the first six months of 2004, an additional $1.3 billion entered the system, its origins unaccounted. According to Kesici, an economist there could be as much as a $2 billion overestimation in tourism revenue.
Media like elsewhere has been corporatized . So while