Turkey is the country to watch right now. The government of the ruling party, the AKP, has set about arresting dozens of senior officers in all the services, some of them retired and others still serving. They are accused of conspiracy, and wild stuff it is too, staging incidents that would lead to national crises including war and of course the overthrow of the AKP government.
The AKP is evidently Islamist in its core. I have been caught in demonstrations of theirs in Istanbul, and it has been obvious that religion, for this party, is the better part of politics. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, is an overt Islamist, but one who keeps his cards so close to his chest that the degree of his commitment has been hard to discern. The turn in the Turkish attitude seems to date from the moment when they denied the use of Turkish space to American forces in the run-up to Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. They then seemed less perturbed than previously that the European Union is evidently not about to admit Turkey any time soon. Erdogan and others have become highly critical of Israel, attacking it in bloodthirsty Islamist style. And all the while there have been talks, exchange visits, and a strengthening relationship with Iran. This accords well with the Khomeinist view that Islam is one and indivisible.
I have been talking with someone who does a lot of business with Turkey and knows the country really well. He is no sort of supporter of autocracy, generally a pacifist and even on the Left, and tends to look positively on Islam as well. To my astonishment, he said that he hoped for a military coup, for otherwise Turkey was destined for Islamism, and the balance of forces will take another turn against the West. If the armed services take these arrests and accusations lying down, then it is goodbye to the outstanding model of democracy and modernization in the Muslim world.
CARTOON OF THE DAYBY HENRY PAYNE 01/28‘Charge It’