Nato's Islamists
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Hegemony and Americanization in Turkey

The tensions currently convulsing the Middle East—Western military offensive, Islamicized resistance, economic turbulence, demographic upheaval—have taken a peculiarly Americanized form in Turkey. [1] The secular Republic of Kemal Atatürk, nato’s longstanding bulwark in the region, is now ruled by men who pray. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (akp)—the latest incarnation of a once-banned Islamist movement—has a 60 per cent majority in the Assembly, or Meclis, forming the first non-coalition government in Ankara for fifteen years. Prime Minister Erdoğan is himself a possible candidate for the presidency, a seven-year appointment in the gift of the Meclis under the Republic’s notoriously unrepresentative democracy. Predictably, perhaps, though elected primarily by the votes of the poor—above all, the young, informal proletariat now crowding Turkey’s cities—Erdoğan’s government is slashing government spending, aiming at a fiscal surplus of 6 per cent of gdp in the coming year. Though proclaiming solidarity with the Muslim world, it has dispatched Turkish troops to join the un occupation force in Southern Lebanon, and was only restrained from sending them to Iraq by the urgent pleas of the Iraqi-Kurdish President, Jalal Talabani. Yet the akp is widely expected to win the Autumn 2007 elections, and has largely retained its support among provincial capitalists, the pious small bourgeoisie, the newly urbanized poor, important fractions of the police and much of the liberal, left-leaning intelligentsia.

Source: New Left Review 44, March-April 2007

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