Monday, November 04, 2002

Attaturk Spinning in His Grave-This could be interesting-a pro-Islamic party has gotten a pure majority of the seats in the Turkish elections. The government has played a song-and-dance routine of banning the main Islamic party if they got too anti-secular; now they make up a majority of the new Parliament. The "Justice and Development Party" got 34% of the vote, and only one other party broke the 10% barrier. Could we see the prospect of a military coup (long the guardian of the secular order) if the new Parliament starts to lean against the secular state. This isn't a Taliban West, but it could get nasty if the military steps in. Remember this is a NATO member, and a possible coup on NATO's eastern flank (and just north of Iraq, lest we forget) has a lot more geopolitical ramifications than one would think. It's entirely possible for the generals to pull a Musharraf and "rescue the people from a dysfunctional democracy" and have the world sit by and do little-to-nothing. However, it's entirely possible for Turkey to slide into the first functional Islamic democracy if the generals let the political process run its course. Two nightmare scenarios-one would be an ongoing civil war between Islamics and the military looking a bit like Algeria and the other would be a Iranian-style "democratic theocracy". I don't see the second nightmare happening-Turkey seems a bit too secular to have that happen, but I could easily see the first nightmare if the military takes over and cracks down on Islam in all forms. Keep an eye on this one.

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