Friday, November 03, 2006

State Department is setting us up to lose Turkey

Secular Turks Criticize the U.S. Ambassador for Dismissing Warnings Against Rising Islamism in Turkey

During the first week of October 2006, a fierce secular-religious debate broke out in Turkey when President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and top Turkish military commanders warned of the growing threat of Islamist fundamentalism in Turkey. [1]
That week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on an official visit to the U.S. This visit was depicted as successful by U.S. and Turkish government officials, and especially by the Islamic press in Turkey, despite the ruling AKP's (Justice and Development Party) invitation to Syria-based Hamas officials, [2] Turkey's drawing closer to Iran and Syria at a time when the U.S. was trying to isolate the two countries, and the rampant anti-Americanism in Turkey. [3]
Secular circles in Turkey have a long standing perception that the U.S. has supported Prime Minister Erdogan and feared that he would exploit this trip to garner U.S. support for his presidential bid in 2007, as well as for the AKP in the run-up to the November 2007 general elections.
In the eyes of the secularists, hosting Erdogan in the White House in December 2002, at a time when he was banned from politics due to his Islamist past, opened the door to his becoming prime minister. The secular - and increasingly nationalist - circles in Turkey have accused the U.S. administration [4] of supporting Erdogan, and of creating the concept of a Turkey of "moderate Islam" that would be a model for the rest of the Muslim world. They insist that Turkey is and should remain a secular, modern, and Western republic, as envisioned by its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

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