Азиатские тигры (igor_tiger) wrote,
Азиатские тигры
igor_tiger

Рост Турции и Запад

Stratfor: Будет ли Запад поддерживать рост Турции?

Turkey's  Justice and Development Party (AKP) won Parliamentary elections June 12, which  means it will remain in power for a third term. The popular vote, divided among  a number of parties, made the AKP the most popular party by far, although  nearly half of the electorate voted for other parties, mainly the opposition
and largely secularist Republican People's Party (CHP). More important, the AKP  failed to win a super-majority, which would have given it the power to  unilaterally alter Turkey's  constitution. This was one of the major issues in the election, with the AKP  hoping for the super-majority and others trying to block it. The failure of the  AKP to achieve the super-majority leaves the status quo largely intact. While  the AKP remains the most powerful party in Turkey, able to form governments  without coalition partners, it cannot rewrite the constitution without  accommodating its rivals.

One way to  look at this is that Turkey  continues to operate within a stable framework, one that has been in place for  almost a decade. The AKP is the ruling party. The opposition is fragmented  along ideological lines, which gives the not overwhelmingly popular AKP  disproportionate power. The party can set policy within the constitution but  not beyond the constitution. In this sense, the Turkish political system has
produced a long-standing reality. Few other countries can point to such  continuity of leadership. Obviously, since Turkey is a democracy, the rhetoric  is usually heated and accusations often fly, ranging from imminent military  coups to attempts to impose a religious dictatorship. There may be generals thinking of coups and there may be members of AKP thinking of religious  dictatorship, but the political process has worked effectively to make such  things hard to imagine. In Turkey,  as in every democracy, the rhetoric and the reality must be carefully  distinguished.


Turkey
's Shifting Policy
That said,  the AKP has clearly taken Turkey  in new directions in both domestic and foreign policy. In domestic policy, the  direction is obvious. While the CHP has tried to vigorously contain religion  within the private sphere, the AKP has sought to recognize Turkey's  Islamic culture and has sought a degree of integration with the political  structure.
This has  had two results. Domestically, while the AKP has had the strength to create a  new political sensibility, it has not had the strength to create new institutions  based on Islamic principles (assuming this is one of its desired goals). Nevertheless,  the secularists, deriving their legitimacy from the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal  Ataturk, have viewed his legacy and their secular rights - one of which is the
right of women not to have to wear headscarves - as being under attack. Hence,  the tenor of public discourse has been volatile. Indeed, there is a constant  sense of crisis in Turkey,  as the worst fears of the secularists collide with the ambitions of the AKP. Again,  we regard these ambitions as modest, not because we know what AKP leaders  intend in their heart, but simply because they lack the power to go further  regardless of intentions.

The rise of  the AKP and its domestic agenda has more than just domestic consequences. Since  2001, the United States has  been fighting radical Islamists, and the fear of radical Islamism goes beyond
the United States to Europe and other countries. In many ways, Turkey is both  the most prosperous and most militarily powerful of any Muslim country. The  idea that the AKP agenda is radically Islamist and that Turkey is  moving toward radical Islamism generates anxieties and hostilities in the international system.

While the  thought of a radical Islamist Turkey is frightening, and many take an odd  pleasure in saying that Turkey  has been "lost" to radical Islamism and should be ostracized, the reality is more complex. First, it is hard to ostracize a country that has the  largest army in Europe as well as an economy  that grew at 8.9 percent last year and that occupies some of the most strategic  real estate in the world. If the worst case from the West's point of view were  true, ostracizing Turkey  would be tough, making war on it even tougher, and coping with the consequences  of an Islamist Turkey tougher still. If it is true that Turkey has been taken over by radical Islamists  - something I personally do not believe - it would be a geopolitical catastrophe  of the first order for the United  States and its allies in the region. And  since invading Turkey  is not an option, the only choice would be accommodation. It is interesting to  note that those who are most vociferous in writing Turkey off are also most opposed to  accommodation. It is not clear what they propose, since their claim is both  extreme and generated, for the most part, for rhetorical and not geopolitical
reasons. The fear is real, and the threat may be there as well, but the  solutions are not obvious.


Turkey
's Geopolitical Position
So I think  it is useful to consider Turkey  in a broader geopolitical context. It sits astride one of the most important  waterways in the world, the Bosporus, connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. That alone made Ataturk's desire for an  inward Turkey  not playing great power games difficult to attain. Given that it is part of the  Caucasus, shares a border with Iran,  borders the Arab world and is part of Europe, Turkey inevitably becomes part of  other countries' plans. For example, in World War II both powers wanted Turkey in the war on their side, particularly  the Germans, who wanted Turkish pressure on the Baku oil fields.
After World  War II, the Cold War drove Turkey  toward the United States.
Pressure in the Caucasus and the Soviet appetite for controlling the Bosporus,  a historic goal of the Russians, gave Turkey  common cause with the United  States. The Americans did not want the
Soviets to have free access to the Mediterranean, and the Turks did not want to  lose the Bosporus or be dominated by the  Soviets.

From the  American point of view, a close U.S.-Turkish relationship came to be considered  normal. But the end of the Cold War redefined many relationships, and in many  cases, neither party was aware of the redefinition for quite some time. The  foundation of the U.S.-Turkish alliance rested on the existence of a common  enemy, the Soviets. Absent that enemy, the foundation disappeared, but in the 1990s there were no overriding pressures for either side to reconsider its  position. Thus, the alliance remained intact simply because it was easier to  maintain it than rethink it.

This was no  longer the case after 2001, when the United States faced a new enemy,  radical Islamism. At this point, the Turks were faced with a fundamental issue:  the extent to which they would participate in the American war and the extent  to which they would pull away.
After 2001, the alliance stopped being  without a cost.
The break  point came in early 2003 with the U.S.  invasion of Iraq,  which came after the AKP election victory in late 2002. The United States wanted to send a division into northern Iraq from southern Turkey, and the  Turks blocked the move. This represented a critical break in two ways. First,  it was the first time since World War II that the Turks had distanced  themselves from an American crisis - and in this case, it was one in their very  neighborhood. Second, it was a decision made by a government suspected by the United States  of having sympathies for Islamists. The Turks did not break with the United States, eventually allowing U.S. air operations to continue from Turkey and participating in assistance programs  in Afghanistan.

But for the  United States, the decision  on Iraq became a defining  moment, when the United  States realized that it could not take  Turkish support for granted. The Turks, on the other hand, decided that the United States  was taking actions that were not in their best interests. The relationship was  not broken, but it did become strained.

Turkey
was experiencing a similar  estrangement from Europe. Since medieval  times, Turkey  has regarded itself as a European country, and in the contemporary era, it has  sought membership in the European Union, a policy maintained by the AKP. At  first, the European argument against Turkish membership focused on Turkey's  underdeveloped condition. However, for the last decade, Turkey has
experienced dramatic economic growth, including after the global financial  crisis in 2008. Indeed, its economic growth has outstripped that of most  European countries. The argument of underdevelopment no longer holds.

Still, the  European Union continues to block Turkish membership. The reason is simple:  immigration. There was massive Turkish immigration to Western  Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. Germany  and France have significant  social strains resulting from Muslim immigration, and allowing Turkey into the
European Union would essentially open the borders. Now, a strong argument could  be made that EU membership would be disastrous for Turkey  economically, but for Turkey  it is not the membership that matters nearly as much as the rejection. The  European rejection of Turkey  over the immigration issue alienates Turkey from the Europeans, making  it harder for the AKP to counter allegations that it is "turning its back  on the West."

Thus, the  Turks, not wanting to participate in the Iraq  war, created a split with the United States,  and the European rejection of Turkish membership in the European Union has  generated a split with Europe. From a Turkish  point of view, the American invasion of Iraq was ill conceived and the  European position ultimately racist. In this sense, they were being pushed away  from the West.


Turkey
and the Islamic World
But two  other forces were at work. First, the Islamic world changed its shape. From  being overwhelmingly secular in political outlook, not incidentally influenced  by Ataturk, the Islamic world began to move in a more religious direction until  the main tendency was no longer secular but Islamic to varying degrees. It was  inevitable that Turkey  would experience the strains and pressures of the rest of the Muslim world. The
question was not whether Turkey  would shift but to what degree.

The other  force was geopolitical. The two major wars in the Muslim world being fought by  the United States were not  proceeding satisfactorily, and while the main goal had been reached - there  were no further attacks on the United  States - the effort to maintain or create  non-Islamic regimes in the region was not succeeding. Now the United States is withdrawing from the region,  leaving behind instability and an increasingly powerful and self-confident Turkey.

In the end,  the economic and military strength of Turkey had to transform it into a  major regional force. By default, with the American withdrawal, Turkey has  become the major power in the region on several counts. For one, the fact that Turkey had an AKP government and was taking a  leadership position in the region made the United States very uncomfortable. For  another, and this is the remarkable part, Turkey moved moderately on the  domestic front when compared to the rest of the region, and its growing
influence was rooted in American failure rather than Turkish design. When a  Turkish aid flotilla sailed to Gaza and was  intercepted by the Israelis in 2010, the Turkish view was that it was the  minimum step Turkey  could take as a leading Muslim state. The Israeli view was that Turkey was  simply supporting radical Islamists.

This is not  a matter of misunderstanding. The foundation of Turkey's  relationship with Israel,  for example, had more to do with hostility toward pro-Soviet Arab governments  than anything else. Those governments are gone and the secular foundation of Turkey has  shifted. The same is true with the United States
and Europe. None of them wants Turkey to  shift, but given the end of the Cold War and the rise of Islamist forces, such  a shift is inevitable, and what has occurred thus far seems relatively mild  considering where the shift has gone in other countries. But more important,  the foundation of alliances has disappeared and neither side can find a new,  firm footing. As exemplified by Britain  and the United States  in the late 19th century, rising powers make older powers uneasy. They can  cooperate economically and avoid military confrontation, but they are never  comfortable with each other. The emerging power suspects that the greater power  is trying to strangle it. The greater power suspects that the emerging power is  trying to change the order of things. In fact, both of these assumptions are  usually true.

By no means  has Turkey  emerged as a mature power. Its handling of events in Syria and other countries -
consisting mostly of rhetoric - shows that it is has yet to assume a position  to influence, let alone manage, events on its periphery. But it is still early  in the game. We are now at a point where the old foundation has weakened and a  new one is proving difficult to construct. The election results indicate that  the process is still under way without becoming more radical and without  slowing down. The powers that had strong relationships with Turkey no  longer have them and wonder why. Turkey does not understand why it
is feared and why the most ominous assumptions are being made, domestically and  in other countries, about its government's motives. None of this should be a  surprise. History is like that.
Tags: Турция
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