dinsdag 14 oktober 2014

Erdogan Makes Turkeys of the Arabs

Erdogan Makes Turkeys of the Arabs
Thursday June 10, 2010 01:21:21 GMT
As the dust begins settling after the Gaza flotilla affair, it has become

increasingly clear that Turkeys ruling Justice and Developmen t Party
(AKP)resorted in a premeditated way to populist demagoguery during the
episode inorder to serve narrower political goals.Populism in the Arabworld is second nature and despite its disastrous trackrecord, it never

seems to go out of fashion. Non-Arab regional players likeIran have
understood this and have cynically used populism to their advantage.And
so, when Turkeys prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared
recentlythat Gaza "is a historical cause for us," one could be forgiven
for snickering.Since its rise to power in 2002, the AKP has steadily and
systematically soughtto marginalize its domestic opponents and secure
total control over all powercenters in Turkey. Just before the flotilla
fiasco, a poll was released showingthat the AKP had lost ground to its
rival, the Republican Peoples Party (CHP).Erdogan exaggerated when he
described Gaza as a "historical cause," but hecalculated that the
confrontation there would be a perfect instrument to whipup Islamic and
nationalist fervor to his partys benefit.Turkey is going through an
identity crisis. Erdogan has all but demolished thelegitimacy of theKemalist state. And yet the states remaining secularistframework makes it

very difficult to locate that legitimacy in Islam, thepublic and political
uses of which are constrained by the constitution. Erdoganhas had to walk
a fine line in redefining Turkish frames of reference andpolitical
identity.The AKP seeks to restore as much of a pan-Islamic framework as
possible, andforeign policy offers ways of bypassing domestic constraints.
It is perhaps inthat light that Erdogans peculiar emphasis that Turkey is
not a "nation oftribes" and not a "rootless adolescent country" should be
read. What wasoutwardly a crisis with Israel may in fact be a domestic
Turkish affair throughand through.If Turkey is in an identity crisis, the
predicament of the Arabs is no lessflagrant and fundamental. What the
flotilla episode reaffirmed was the easewith which the Arabs can be used
as instruments for the projection of power bythe regions non-Arab powers
and traditional centers of regional influence, suchas Turkey and
Iran.There was something deliciously ironic in seeing two pillars of
Arabnationalism sinking off the shores of Gaza. At the heart of the
romantic Arabnationalist narrative was the notion that the Arabs - united
by an Arabidentity - were burning with a desire to emancipate themselves
from the Turkishyoke. Palestine later became the center of this Arab tale.
The struggle againstthe Turks was featured in history books, and for years
Arab popular culturehighlighted Turkish brutality in television series and
the like. Now,effortlessly, the Turks have become champions of the Arabs
and of theirmythical "central cause."This not only has highlighted the
shallowness of the Arab nationalistnarrative, it also, at least
conceptually, has appeared to restore what forcenturies was the natural
order of politics in the region, which Arabnationalism was supposed to
alter but did not. Take Syria for example. TheSyrians are giddy at the
prospect of being drafted back into a resurgentTurkish realm. Little
wonder. Syrias historical role is to function as a bufferstate for powers
to the north, east and south.The appeal of sectarianism also puts the lie
to Arab nationalisms supposedsecularism. As Turkey seeks to paint itself
as Hamas patron, some Arab stateshave reasoned that this represents a
Sunni counterweight to Irans patronage ofthe Islamist group.But while such
transnationalism finds assets in the fractured Levant, itcreates problems
for established states, namely Egypt, bordering Gaza, wherethe recent
political developments played out. As much as Israel, Egypt findsitself a
target of this Turkish resurgence - not to mention Irans. It was
onlyfitting that we were reminded the other day by Hezbollah Secretary
GeneralHassan Nasrallah of the need for the id eas and values (such as
"the culture ofresistance") of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinis Islamic
Revolution to be spreadthroughout the Arab and Islamic states. This also
happened to follow Nasrallahshint of an operational capacity in the Red
Sea.Just as Irans Islamic Revolution was expansionist by definition, the
AKPs"neo-Ottomanism" also posits a Turkish-dominated realm. As the
potential forIranian-Turkish competition grows and the Levant once again
assumes itshistorical function as a contested space between more powerful
nations vyingfor regional influence, the Arab states are becoming ever
more secondary, theirpopulations easily manipulated by regional populist
leaders like Erdogan.Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation


Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten