Skip to comments.Where Goes the U.S.-Turkish Relationship?
Posted on 12/08/2004 7:23:08 AM PST by stevejackson
Throughout the 1990s, Turkish foreign policy analysts had an easy job. After all, Turkish foreign policy was predictable. Ankara cooperated enthusiastically with Washington, whether in the Middle East or in the Balkans. Turkey aligned itself with Israel and kept at arms length from Middle Eastern neighbors such as Syria and Iran. In Europe, Ankara traded heavily with the European Union (EU) but did not allow the EU to dictate foreign policy. The European Union's frequent allegations and criticism of human rights abuses in Turkey, especially with regard to Turkey's fight against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK, Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan) terrorists, soured the relationship, which deteriorated even further when the EU declared Turkey unfit for membership at its December 1997 Luxembourg Summit.
But today the situation is far different. On May 20, 2004, for example, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused both Israel and the United States of "state terror." The frequency and harshness of criticism of the Jewish state has increased greatly. The shift within Turkey has been dramatic. Ankara's foreign policy is moving into alignment with that of the EU. Today, the Turkish foreign ministry endorses 95 percent of the EU's foreign policy decisions. Not only did Turkey stay out of the war in Iraq, but it has maintained at best lukewarm support for U.S. initiatives on the Middle East ranging from the Greater Middle East Initiative (GMEI) to holding the Iranian government accountable for its clandestine nuclear program.
These changes result from three seismic events in Turkey. First is the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The AKP is rooted in Turkey's Islamist opposition Welfare Party, which the Turkish supreme court shut down in 1997 for undermining the country's secular order. The AKP, which now calls itself a conservative democratic movement, came to power in a November 2002 landslide. Its electoral success had less to do with Islamist ideology, however, than with widespread public dissatisfaction with the economic and political instability and widespread corruption that characterized the 1990s. The AKP received a solid mandate, taking two-thirds of the seats in the legislature, enough to pass constitutional amendments and dictate policies without respect to the secular opposition.
The second major change is a solid perception among the foreign policy elite in Ankara that after reforms to satisfy the EU's accession criteria,  Turkey now stands a chance of EU admission. Turkey's special relationship with the United States may have brought rewards, but none match the promise that Turks assume EU membership would bring.
The third shift in the Turkish-U.S. relationship has been the ripple effect of the 2003 Iraq war, which remains very unpopular in Turkey. According to a recent poll, when Turks were forced to opt between the EU and the United States, 51 percent chose the EU; only six percent favored the United States. Perhaps reflecting the anger over the Iraq war, the same poll showed that a third of all Turks identified the United States as the greatest threat to world piece. Understanding the new dynamics is key to identifying the new parameters of Turkish foreign policy and to determining where Turkeyand its important relationship with the United Statesmight go.
Until 1999, Turkish-EU relations were at best lethargic. Neither Ankara nor the "Eurocrats" in Brussels held out any hope that Turkey, which first applied for membership in 1987, would ever join the union. Brussels considered Turkey's policies toward the PKK to be a disqualifying factor. The elevated position of the military within Turkish politics also made Turkey unsuitable. The European Union's leadership did not hide its hostility toward Turkey. Their constant criticism convinced both Turkish decision-makers and the man-on-the-street that EU membership was a pipe dream. Ankara had little choice but to look to Washington for partnership.
All this began to change, however, in 1999. First, Turkey caught PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. His capture decapitated and demoralized the PKK and its leader-driven rank and file. The subsequent decline in violence allowed the Turkish military to relax. Long hostage to the PKK's destructive nihilism, Turkish politicians could, for the first time since Turgut Özal's presidency (1989-93) discuss critical reforms, such as cultural rights for the Kurds.
As the Turkish government softened its domestic policies, the EU began to think differently about Turkey. After fierce U.S. lobbying, the EU announced at its December 1999 Helsinki summit its decision to accept Turkey as a candidate for membership: Turkey could join the union if, like the other applicant countries, it satisfied the EU's membership rules, and met the terms of the Copenhagen criteria, which mandate rule of law, structures to guarantee democracy, and minority rights. The Helsinki decision opened political floodgates in Turkey. Now that the EU took Turkey seriously, the Turkish leadership would treat the EU likewise. The impossible became possible. Ankara abolished capital punishment, enabled Kurdish language education and broadcasting and, last but not least, limited the executive powers and responsibilities of the country's powerful National Security Council, subjecting it to civilian authority.
The prospect of EU membership also spurred reassessment of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey's secular foreign policy elite is European at heart. Almost all Turkish diplomats are educated either in Europe, or at European schools in Turkey. They share Atatürk's European Weltanschauung and feel relieved to move beyond Turkey's traditional tensions with Europe and to reinforce a pro-European stance. The new pro-EU orientation of Turkish foreign policy became more pronounced after the December 2002 Copenhagen summit, when Brusselsagain after U.S. lobbyingagreed to open accession negotiations with Turkey as soon as Ankara satisfied the Copenhagen criteria.
If Turkey's reorientation of its foreign policy toward Europe came at the expense of the United States, then the Iraq war exacerbated the process, reviving dormant political forces and anti-Americanism. Months before the start of the 2003 Iraq war, Turkish statements mirrored Franco-German rhetoric in its insistence that the war "lacked international legitimacy." The Bush administration had quite a shock when on March 1, 2003, the AKP-controlled Turkish parliament voted down a proposal to allow the coalition to open a second front from Turkey. The pro-AKP press was vociferous in its anti-American tone, especially after the start of the war. Columnist Ahmet Taşgetiren, for example, wrote in Yeni Şafak that, the "administration that President Bush shares with the neo-cons has created a logic of use of force which brings shame to its nation just as Hitler's." The Iraq war also added fuel to the Islamist fire in Turkey. Both the pro-AKP Yeni Şafak and the once-marginal Vakitwhich opposes the AKP only in its pro-EU agendahave moved into the mainstream with conspiracy theories to explain how the Iraq campaign is a U.S.-Jewish-Israeli attempt to dominate the Middle East.
The antiwar anti-Americanism was not isolated to the Islamist camp, however. The 2003 war awakened leftist anti-Americanism among intellectuals and the academic and media elite, many of whom had flirted with extreme leftist, anti-American movements in the 1970s. The Iraq war re-ignited the tendency among Turkish leftists to find U.S.-led conspiracies everywhere. Over the past few years, Turkish newspapers have been awash with theories attributing all problems in the Middle East to the United States. One egregious but widely circulated theory claimed that U.S. bombing in Iraq triggered the May 1, 2003 earthquake in the Turkish city of Bingöl. Otherwise credible journalists have speculated in the postwar period that the United States sought to keep Turkey out of Iraq to keep Turkey from exploiting oil deposits there. Turkey's Kurds have also been prone to anti-U.S. conspiracies. On November 22, 2003, for example, Hasan Bildirici, a leftist Kurdish journalist, wrote in the Özgür Politika daily that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were both working for the United States. While such claims often circulate among extreme nationalists of all sorts in Turkey, many intellectuals, not only in the AKP but also in the secular mainstream, see the Iraq campaign (and the Greater Middle East Initiative) as part of a "neo-colonial" U.S. effort to establish hegemony in the region.
The war also returned the Kurdish issue to the forefront. Anxiety about Kurdish nationalism had dissipated in Turkey after Öcalan's capture. But the empowerment of Iraqi Kurdsand their quest for autonomyin the wake of the 2003 war reopened old wounds in Turkey. Many Turkish officials fear that Kurdish separatists in Turkey will abuse Iraqi federalism to their advantage. The fact that the PKK controls 5,000 terrorists in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq exacerbates their fears, all the more so since the PKK ended their cease-fire on June 1, 2004. The wariness towards Kurdish nationalism is even bridging the traditional gap between Turkish nationalists on the right and the left. Ortadoğu, a newspaper close to Nationalist Action Party, and Cumhuriyet, which represents the opinion of core secular leftist, nationalist Turks, now voice similar opinions on the subject.
The infamous "July 4 incident" brought the issue to a crisis stage. On July 4, 2003, U.S. forces arrested Turkish special operation troops in Sulaymaniyah, a major city in northern Iraq, on charges that they were conspiring to assassinate elected officials there. Many Turks saw this episodein which the Turkish troops were disarmed, hooded, and detainedas a deliberate provocation and a clear sign that Washington favored Iraqi Kurds over a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally. More than a year later, the Turkish military remains furious about this episode.
While Turks across the political spectrum blame the United States for the war and for empowering Iraqi Kurds, it was, ironically, the AKP government that strengthened the U.S.-Kurdish alliance. By refusing to open a northern front, the AKP majority in parliament effectively forced the United States to become dependent on Iraqi Kurdish militias. The Kurds now demand a reward for their participation, and Washington appears willing to oblige. Turkey is ill at ease with the emergence of a Kurdish proto-state in Iraq, which will likely only strengthen should the rest of Iraq deteriorate into chaos. As Turkey is faced with an autonomous Kurdish state on its borders, many among Turkey's security-military elite question whether it was the U.S. strategy since the start to establish such a state.
But, the greatest divergence between Ankara and Washington revolves perhaps around Israel. Turkey and the European Union have adopted a common front arguing that reform and progress in the Middle East cannot happen until a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is found. Given the Turkish government's influence on the media, it is not surprising that 72 percent of Turks now have a negative view of the Greater Middle East Initiative and that more than two-thirds believe Turkey should side with the Palestinians (less than 3 percent thought that Turkey should favor Israel). Both Turkey and the EU criticize Israel's targeted killing of Hamas leaders. Erdoğan referred to the killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin as a "terrorist act," and the daily Yeni Şafak labeled Yassin's assassination "Israeli terrorism."
Yeni Şafak provides a window into AKP thinking. The newspaper's owner Sadık Albayrak and Erdoğan are in-laws. The prime minister again accused Israel of "state terrorism" after an Israeli operation to root out weapons smuggling tunnels led to the demolition of several houses in Ramah. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül added that the attacks could adversely affect Turkish-Israeli relations. The Islamist daily Vakit went further and proclaimed that the "terrorist-Zionist state of Israel, a protégé of the United States and Britain," was conducting "genocide" in the Palestinian territories. While the AKP cannot be held accountable for every statement in the Islamist press, the fact is that five years ago, such sentiments would not be found in the mass-circulation press.
With regard to Israel's security barrier, the Turkish government has been even more critical than the EU. When the U.N. General Assembly voted on a resolution condemning the fence on August 12, 2003, EU member countries abstained while Turkey joined a large number of Muslim countries in criticizing Israel. AKP has also at times channeled aversion toward Israel into new calls for Islamist solidarity. Not by coincidence, the AKP increased its anti-Israel rhetoric just days ahead of the June 14 summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The Turkish candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, later won election as the new OIC chair.
Anti-Americanism, enhanced by the 2003 Iraq war, has created strange bedfellows in Turkey. Secular nationalists and the AKP find themselves in the same camp. Meanwhile, the pro-EU drive is the strongest political force in the country, with the AKP and secular liberals rallying behind it. To a large extent, Turkey's influential business community has been happy to support the shift. Over half of Turkey's trade is with the EU; large and small businesses alike see tangible gains in union membership.
Whether the AKP continues its drive to synchronize Turkish foreign policy with the EU will hinge upon the outcome of the next EU conference in December 2004. The best outcome, but most unlikely, is an enthusiastic European welcome of Turkey into its fold, with few issues for negotiation and a promised accession date. Obviously, this would benefit the AKP tremendously and reaffirm Erdoğan's policies although many secularists and opponents of the AKP point out that EU accession under the AKP might further entrench the AKP. Since polls indicate that more than three-quarters of Turks support EU accession, getting a date might push the AKP's popularity over the psychologically important 50 percent threshold. This would likely result in an AKP successor to Turkish president Ahmed Necdet Sezer, whose term expires in 2007. Because the Turkish president appoints judges to the country's staunchly secular high courts, this could further erode secular checks to the AKP's power.
Conversely, if the EU rejects any chance of Turkish accession or attaches humiliating or impossible strings, then the pro-EU alliance between secular liberals and Islamists might collapse. This scenario could result in three possible outcomes. Some Turks might seek to revitalize ties to the United States, but this is unlikely in the short-term; the damage wrought by the Iraq war and the Turkish media's anti-Americanism is simply too great to overcome quickly. There might be an anti-Western backlash among Islamists who desire greater alliance with Iran and the Arab Middle East. Simultaneously, an EU rejection might spur a nationalist backlash in which Turkey turns inward, refusing to deal intimately with either the EU or Washington. After all, many people, including some in the Turkish armed forces, point to meetings between AKP leaders and U.S. diplomats before the AKP's sudden rise and consequent election victory in November 2002 as evidence of conspiracy. Recent statements by Secretary of State Colin Powell praising Turkey as a "Muslim democracy" only reinforce such sentiments.
Given the EU's positive commentary on Turkey's many reforms, the most likely EU offer in December is a conditional acceptance with eventual accession talks to ensure full Turkish compliance with reforms. The European Union does not want to dissuade Turkey, but European concerns will not wither away. While Ankara looks toward Europe for affirmation, European leaders look at Turkish membership in terms of assets and liabilities. Turkish accession would bring 70 million people into the union; Turkey would become the second most populace state in the EU after Germany. The fact that Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim does not help, given how much difficulty countries like France have in integrating their much smaller Muslim communities. Brussels also sees Turkey's relative poverty as a financial drain. Turkish income levels are below the EU average although they are on par with current EU members or countries in accession talks such as Bulgaria and Romania.
The "yes, but only if ..." answerdemanding full implementation of the Copenhagen criteria, something the EU has not asked from other countriescould cause many Turks to accuse the EU of hypocrisy. After all, the EU admitted several eastern Europe states despite serious human rights issues. Even after EU membership, some of these states are not yet in full compliance with the Copenhagen criteria. Latvia, for example, which entered the EU on May 1, 2004, continues to disenfranchise its large Russian minority.
The anticlimactic aftermath of the December 2004 EU decision on Turkey provides U.S. policymakers with room to maneuver. Washington faces a conundrum with regard to Turkey's EU membership. Even though the EU accession process has moved Ankara away from Washington in recent years, it is in U.S. interests to work for an unconditional "yes." This is due to two reasons. Optimism in Turkey will deflate any nationalist or Islamist backlash; it is better that Turkey moves closer to France than to Iran. In addition, any conditions will allow Paris and Berlin to effectively blackmail Turkey, enforcing strict discipline. If Turkey receives an unconditional "yes," the union's Damoclean sword might be removed from above Turkey's head. Paradoxically, by lobbying for Turkey's EU accession, Washington might help reinforce Turkey's pro-U.S. position. At this stage, however, given the transatlantic divide, direct U.S. lobbying on behalf of Turkey would have limited effectiveness. Hence, Washington might be better served to use indirect means, lobbying through friendly countries in the union, in support of Turkey's membership.
Should U.S. policymakers want to rebuild their special relationship with Turkey, it is incumbent that Washington be transparent about its policy toward the Kurds. Distrust with regard to U.S. Kurdish policy has peaked across the Turkish spectrum with the resumption of near daily PKK terrorist attacks in eastern Turkey. Given the U.S. commitment to eradicate the terror infrastructure in Iraq, many Turkish officials question why the United States ignores the PKK presence in Iraq. Filibustering by U.S. joint chiefs of staff on plans to counter the PKK have led skeptical Turks to question whether Washington is a true ally.
Turkish officials suggest that even symbolic U.S. action against the PKK would be received well. During Erdoğan's visit to Tehran on July 29, 2004, Iran declared that it was putting the PKK on its list of terrorist organizations. The Iranian government enjoyed the diplomatic rewards, despite the fact that the Islamic Republic does not actually have such a list. While the State Department has listed the PKK as a terrorist organization since it started designating such groups, it seems at present that Tehran understands Turkish sensitivities better than Washington.
The best method to fight the PKK at this stage would be to eliminate the organization's hard-line leadership, for example, Öcalan lieutenants Cemil Bayık and Nizamettin Taş. The PKK has a leader-driven, Stalinist structure. With Öcalan in jail, the capture of its remaining leadership would be a decisive step in destroying the organization's nerve center, reducing its operational capabilities and lowering morale among its cadres.
One avenue open to U.S. policymakers would be to pressure the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties, Masoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to join forces with the United States and Turkey in the fight against the PKK. With such a step, these parties would signal that, past rhetoric aside, Iraqi Kurds were more interested in Turkey's welfare rather than its demise.
Any joint operations would also dull Ankara's perception of the strategic threat posed by autonomous Iraqi Kurds. Despite European propaganda to the contrary, Turkey does not discriminate against Kurds as such. Shiite Iran discriminates against the predominantly Sunni Kurds on the basis of religion. Syria and Iraq have histories of ethnic discrimination against the Kurds. But, Turkey embraces Kurds so long as they take pride in their Turkish citizenship. At least two of Turkey's ten presidents and more than a few generals and politicians who fought against the PKK were themselves of Kurdish origin.
U.S. embassies in Ankara and Baghdad might also reinforce the Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish partnership. Turkish investment in northern Iraq, significant before the war, has skyrocketed. Turkish strategic investment in northern Iraq ranges from oil exploration to construction contracts for the Sulaymaniyah and Erbil airports. The more Turkish companies are invested in northern Iraq, the less incentive either Turkish or Iraqi Kurdish politicians have to disrupt a win-win situation. Turkey also provides a natural export outlet for Kurdish products or, in the future, oil. (The major pipeline running from northern Iraq into the Mediterranean Sea passes through Turkey). U.S. companies might pay heed to this strategic vision when awarding contracts or giving contractor guidance. A Turkish economic investment in northern Iraq would bolster U.S. security. If Turkish-Kurdish interests become increasingly interwoven, northern Iraq might become a buffer against Syrian, Iranian, or even Saudi influence. The fact that the Kurds tend to be pro-Western and secular eases implementation of such a strategy.
Even if Washington supports Turkey's EU accession and eases tensions over the Kurdish issue, there will be little improvement unless the U.S. government improves its public diplomacy. One of Washington's gravest mistakes over the past couple of years has been showcasing the rise of the AKP as proof that Turkey is a democracy. AKP's coming to power is neither a sign that democracy and Islam are compatible nor the ultimate proof that Turkey is a democracy. Turkey had already proven itself as a democracy, albeit an illiberal one at times, since switching over to a multiparty system in 1946. As a predominantly Muslim country, Turkey does not need to have an Islamist (or formerly Islamist) party take power in order to prove that it is a democracy. Highlighting the rise of the AKP as proof that Turkey is a democracy has resulted in two problems. On the tactical level, this move has alienated Turkey's secular, nationalist elites from the United States who see in Washington's strategy a motive to undermine Turkey's secular order. On the other hand, such a move sends messages to the Muslim world that democracy is possible there only when and if Islamist or formerly Islamist parties come to power. In order to avoid further such tactical errors, the U.S. government should promote Turkey only as an example of a secular, democratic country.
This should not be hard to accomplish. The Turkish public traditionally receives visits by U.S. presidents and other elected officials well. For instance, a 1999 visit by President Clinton in which he addressed the Turkish parliament and praised Turkey's secular, democratic tradition, successfully heightened pro-U.S. sympathies in Turkey. Engraved in the Turkish mind is a famous photograph of Clinton with a baby who had survived the 1999 earthquake. A politician's human touch generally helps persuade ordinary Turks that U.S. motives are in Turkey's interests. Over the past two years, when historic events were unfolding in Iraq, not a single high-level U.S. statesman visited the country to explain the U.S. position to the Turks. In this regard, President Bush's June 2004 trip to Istanbul to attend the NATO summit has had only limited success. The trip did not give common Turks a chance to share the president's public presence as his itinerary was limited to high-level government officials, and the only public speech Bush delivered was addressed to a select group of Turks at a private university. Future U.S. visits to Turkey, with well-crafted photo opportunities and appropriate policy statements reaffirming U.S. support for Turkish accession to the EU and the eradication of the PKK, would effectively advance U.S. policy and stem anti-Americanism.
At the same time, the onus of better relations rests not only on Washington. The State Department must make clear to the Turkish government that the AKP must do its part to reverse the Turkish media's rampant anti-Americanism. The AKP's reach extends beyond the conservative Islamist press. Many Turkish newspaper editors and journalists respond to signals from their government and alter tone accordingly. Much more so than in the loosely regulated American market, significant players in the Turkish media have business interests that depend on good relations with the ruling party.
An obituary for the demise of a half-century partnership is premature. The means are available to ensure that Turkey remains a staunch ally to the United States. The U.S.-Turkish relationship may change, but change is not necessarily bad. It can also mean evolution. At the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war, many people predicted that Washington did not need Turkey anymore to implement its Middle East policy. Events now indicate the contrary. In the post-Saddam world, Ankara's support is crucial, not only because it provides the United States with easy access to Iraq and elsewhere in the crisis-ridden Middle East, but also because a secular, democratic Turkey remains a source of inspiration for the region. In their age-old quest to join the West, the Turks today face two wests, not one. Rather than choosing between Europe and the United States, Ankara can successfully partner with both and still remain Western. That is what Atatürk would have wanted.
Soner Cagaptay is a senior fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
 "Luxembourg European Council 12 and 13 December 1997 Presidency Conclusions," European Commission, Luxembourg, Dec. 13 1997, at http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=DOC/97/24&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en.
 Hürriyet (Istanbul), May 20, 2004, at http://www.hurriyetim.com.tr/haber/0,,sid~1@w~7@tarih~2004-05-20-m@nvid~415161,00.asp.
 Ibid., Mar. 22, 2004, at http://www.hurriyetim.com.tr/haber/0,,sid~1@w~3@tarih~2004-03-22-m@nvid~387363,00.asp; idem, May 20, 2004, at http://www.hurriyetim.com.tr/haber/0,,sid~1@w~7@tarih~2004-05-20-m@nvid~415161,00.asp.
 Author interview with a former Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, Ankara, Aug. 2004.
 "Special Policy Forum Report, Turkey Goes to the Polls: A Post-Mortem," Policywatch, no. 675, Nov. 7, 2002, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/Policywatch/policywatch2002/675.htm.
 Soner Cagaptay, "European Union Reforms Diminish the Role of the Turkish Military: Ankara Knocking on Brussels' Door," Policywatch, no. 781, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Aug. 12, 2003, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/index.htm.
 Yusuf Ziya Özcan and İhsan Dağı, "NATO ve Türk Dış Politikası Araştırması," Pollmark Araştırma (Ankara), July 2004, p. 35.
 Regular Report from the Commission on Turkey's Progress towards Accession, European Commission, Nov. 1998, pp. 19-20, at http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_98/pdf/en/turkey_en.pdf.
 Ibid., pp. 13-4.
 Atila Eralp, "Turkey and the European Union in the Post-Cold War Era," in Alan Makovsky and Sabri Sayarı, eds., Turkey's New World (Washington, D.C.: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2000), pp. 173-88.
 The Turkish Daily News, June 17, 2000, at http://www.turkishdailynews.com/old_editions/06_17_00/dom.htm#d6.
 "Conclusions of the European Council on Turkey since Luxembourg," European Union, Dec. 1997, p. 2, at http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/turkey/pdf/european_councils_.pdf.
 "Accession Criteria," representation of the European Commission to Turkey, European Union in Turkey, at http://www.deltur.cec.eu.int/english/enlarge-accession.html.
 Soner Cagaptay, "Turkey's Quest to Join the European Union: Implications for American Policy," Policywatch, no. 648, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Aug. 14, 2002, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/index.htm; idem, "European Union Reforms Diminish the Role of the Turkish Military: Ankara Knocking on Brussels's Door," Policywatch, no. 781, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Aug. 12, 2003, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/index.htm.
 "Conclusions of the European Council on Turkey since Luxembourg," p. 2.
 Turkish Daily News Online, Aug. 31, 2002, at http://www.kurdishlibrary.org/Kurdish_Library/Aktuel/North_Irak/News_TDN_020831_03_Eng.htm.
 Ahmet Taşgetiren, "Bu AmerikaBu İngiltere!" Yeni Şafak (Istanbul), May 5, 2003, at http://www.yenisafak.com.tr/arsiv/2004/mayis/05/atasgetiren.html.
 Hüsnü Mahalli, "Irak İşgali İsrail ve Gül," ibid., Apr. 16, 2003, at http://www.yenisafak.com/arsiv/2003/nisan/16/hmahalli.html.
 Akşam (Istanbul), Aug. 17, 2004; Milliyet (Istanbul), May 3, 2003, at http://www.milliyet.com.tr/2003/05/03/yazar/akyol.html; author interview with AKP politician in Ankara, June 2003.
 Akşam, Aug. 17, 2004, at http://www.aksam.com.tr/arsiv/aksam/2004/08/17/yazarlar/yazarlar210.html.
 Özgür Politika (Istanbul), Nov. 22, 2003, at http://www.ozgurpolitika.org/2003/11/22/hab23b.html.
 Author interview with Turkish politician, Istanbul, June 2003; Akşam, May 14, 2004, at http://www.aksam.com.tr/arsiv/aksam/2004/05/14/gundem/gundem5.html.
 "Irak Cehenneme Dönecek" (Iraq Will Turn into Hell), Ortadoğu, Nov. 5, 2003; Ergin Yıldızoğlu, "Birleşen Halk Yenilmez" (Unified People Will Not Be Defeated), Cumhuriyet (Istanbul), Apr. 12, 2004.
 Voice of America News, July 5, 2003, at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2003/07/iraq-030705-voa02.htm.
 Author interview with Turkish armed forces officer, Istanbul, June 2003; United Press International, Sept.18, 2003, at http://quickstart.clari.net/qs_se/webnews/wed/ci/Uturkey-iraq-analysis.RF6q_DSI.html.
 "News from the Washington File," Federal Information and News Dispatch, Inc., U.S. State Department, Mar. 1, 2004; Egemen Bagis, "NATO, Iraq, and the Greater Middle East: Implications for the U.S.-Turkish Relationship," Policywatch, no. 871, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 10, 2004, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/index.htm.
 Özcan and Dağı, "NATO ve Türk Dış Politikası Araştırması," p. 50.
 Hürriyet, Mar. 25, 2004; Onasa News Agency, Apr. 18, 2004.
 Hürriyet, Mar. 25, 2004.
 Yeni Şafak, Mar. 23, 2004.
 Hürriyet, May 20, 2004.
 Vakit, May 21, 2004.
 Press Release, GA/10216, United Nations, Aug. 12, 2003, at http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/ga10216.doc.htm.
 "Bilateral Trade Relations Turkey," European Commission, at http://europa.eu.int/comm/trade/issues/bilateral/countries/turkey/index_en.htm.
 Senem Aydin and E. Fuat Keyman, "European Integration and the Transformation of Turkish Democracy," EU-Turkey Working Papers, no. 2, Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels), Aug. 2004, p. 12.
 Özcan and Dağı, "NATO ve Türk Dış Politikası Araştırması," pp. 4-5.
 In the last elections in March 1994, AKP received 42 percent of the vote. eTurkiye, July 7, 2004, at http://www.secim2004.com/.
 Michael Rubin, "Talking Turkey," National Review Online, Aug. 6, 2004, at http://www.nationalreview.com/rubin/rubin200408060839.asp.
 "GDP Per Capita in Purchasing Power Standards for EU, Candidate Countries and EFTA1," Eurostat (Luxembourg), at http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/Public/datashop/print-product/EN?catalogue=Eurostat&product=KS-NJ-04-027-__-N-EN&mode=download
 The Washington Times, May 2, 2004, at http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/20040501-080016-6239r.htm.
 Michael Rubin, "The PKK Factor," National Review Online, Aug. 5, 2004, at http://www.nationalreview.com/rubin/rubin200408051220.asp.
 Author telephone interview with Iranian Foreign Ministry official, Washington, D.C., Aug. 2004.
 Michael Rubin, "Are Kurds a Pariah Minority?" Social Research, Spring 2003, p. 4-16.
 Turkish Daily News, Mar.16, 2004, at http://www.turkishdailynews.com/old_editions/03_16_04/econ.htm#e1; idem, Mar. 10, 2004, at http://www.turkishdailynews.com/old_editions/03_10_04/econ.htm#e2.
 For summary of the public perception of the Clinton visit, see http://www.byegm.gov.tr/yayinlarimiz/NEWSPOT/1999/Nov-Dec/N24.htm.
 The New York Times, Apr. 19, 2003.
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Daily Star (Lebanon) ^ | Saturday, September 25, 2004 | Michael Glackin
Posted on 10/01/2004 10:41:52 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
Strategic reasons for Turkish EU membership 'unconvincing', says studyReported in Die Welt, the study by the East-European Studies Institute says that because Turkish membership of the EU will bring little economic benefit, the emphasis of the discussion has shifted instead to the strategic benefits... It also criticises claims by the German government that a democratic Turkey could be a shining example to Islamic states in the Middle East as "difficult to understand". The study has been picked up by opposition Christian Democrat politicians - who favour Turkey having a 'privileged partnership' with the EU rather than full membership. Bavaria's Europe minister Eberhard Sinner (CSU) said that the study should be "required reading for every head of state and government in Europe".
by Honor Mahony
(Thousands at Cologne Anti-Violence Rally)
I like the EU Observer site for content, but it has a constant popup window, and the scripts seem to run a long time as the windows load.Turkey against EU membership at 'any cost'Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has said that his country should not pursue membership of the EU at "any cost"... Referring to the decision next month by EU leaders on whether to open membership negotiations with Turkey, the foreign minister said "we will do our best and see what happens ... If the outcome does not satisfy us, we will leave it there; if it does we will go on". Mr Gul told MPs that the EU was wary of admitting a country as vast as Turkey but was forced to consider the issue when Ankara conducted a series of reforms in order to adhere to the EU's political criteria... "But we cannot accept an unconditional and indefinite absence of free movement from Turkey to another country".
by Honor Mahony
November 11, 2004
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What are you talking about? Did you guys read the article. Do you have sources to contradict the article? (I have about 1/4 of the article to go to finish. So far I see only that Turkey is adopting the EU position.) Yes, we are currently not popular among the majority of Turks. There is no way radical Islam will dominate Turkey unless it can defeat the Army.
Modern Turkey was founded in 1923. It's a secular constitutional democratic Republic. Does Germany have a Nazi sphere of influence? Is Germany in danger from fanatic Nazis? Modern Turkey is not a shrunken Ottoman Empire.
I had lots of comments. It was a great article. My experience from living in Ankara for almost a year was that the Turkish people are great people and very proud of their secular constitutional Republic. I was pleased that the author cited the EU influence and did not stray too far into radical Islam and the AKP. The EU says the National Security Council (military) has to butt out. Go figure. Its duty is to protect the secular constitutional Republic from radical Islam. The last time was 1997.
I have opted to just post this.
Any joint operations would also dull Ankara's perception of the strategic threat posed by autonomous Iraqi Kurds. Despite European propaganda to the contrary, Turkey does not discriminate against Kurds as such. Shi'ite Iran discriminates against the predominantly Sunni Kurds on the basis of religion. Syria and Iraq have histories of ethnic discrimination against the Kurds. But, Turkey embraces Kurds so long as they take pride in their Turkish citizenship. At least two of Turkey's ten presidents and more than a few generals and politicians who fought against the PKK were themselves of Kurdish origin.
So we would let our southwest and California become primarily Spanish-speaking? IMO much of Turkey's bad image originated via Soviet propaganda during the Cold War. We've been allies and friends for decades.
One avenue open to U.S. policymakers would be to pressure the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties, Masoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to join forces with the United States and Turkey in the fight against the PKK. With such a step, these parties would signal that, past rhetoric aside, Iraqi Kurds were more interested in Turkey's welfare rather than its demise.
Now you're talking.
That is either simplistic or misinformed statement. ONLY RADICAL MOSLEMS WEAR HIJAB! If you take a picture on the street of Ankara today, and twenty years ago, you will quickly realize how the Turkish population finally give up their secular policy, and relented to radical Islam (the majority of women wear the hijab now). The pressure from the Muslim media in Iran, and the Arab world to force Muslims to accept fanatical Islam was successful; basically because 1) they had the billions of dollars of funding, 2) they are backed by the governments, 3)the relentless campaign is backed by violent intimidation.
Any one who thinks that fanatic Islam, which is backed by many Muslim governments, and treasuries is going to be defeated by American soldiers is fooling himself. Only ideological campaign that is well orchestrated, and relentlessly prosecuted over DECADES can change the current status in the Muslim world, including Turkey.
For now, WE DON'T WANT TO LET 60MILLION MUSLIM TURKS IN EUROPE. THE EUROPEANS HAVE THEIR HANDS FULL WITH A FEW MILLION MOSLEMS. It would be a disaster to force the European to accept suicide.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) won big on economic and corruption issues. They were repeatedly asked to disavow Islamist views which they did. Should they threaten the secular Republic of Turkey the Army will "suggest" to them that it's time for a new government. The old government has always agreed to the suggestion and thanked the Army, sort of.
Now it is true that I have not lived there for more than ten years but I lived there as a civilian living on the economy in Ankara. I stand by my praise of the Turkish people.
Do you have sources that suggest that the Army would not act to prevent an Islamist takeover? One of the conditions of the EU is for the Army to butt out, I don't think that there are many in Turkey who would favor that if the Republic is threatened.
In my simplistic or misinformed way I'd especially like to see sources for your statement that "the Turkish population finally [gave] up their secular policy, and relented to radical Islam." Are they ready to turn their backs on Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey?
BTW, there's difference between a country of Muslims (Turkey) and a Muslim country.
Actually the evidences are black and white on the front page of ALL American papers, and the headlines of ALL American TV news. It is like the bible said you have eyes but you cannot see, and ears and cannot hear. Psychologist call it SELECTIVE processing. Now that I confused you, here the the proof. During the US invasion campaign of Iraq, we wanted to use our old ally Turkey as a front to place some of our military forces, and their "Muslim" government denied us permission. Their "secular" army did not do anything to pressure the government to help the US. The Muslim government was able to assert its position mainly because the majority of the TURKISH POPULATION HAVE ACCEPTED RADICAL ISLAM.
Very few people in this country know enough about radical Islam, and those who know are not in the decision making positions, unfortunately! For example, I have written a commentary article in my local paper that appeared on Sept 10, 2001 warning of Islamic fanatic potential attack on the US, and naming specifically Osama bin Laden. Now as a civilian, I have no access to intelligence, or any other sources to base my article. I was only using information from Times, Newsweek, and other readily available American press. The reason I can put my finger on it, and not you, or our Administration has to do with LIFE TIME of experience, and gut feelings towards world events and how it is interpreted in the Muslim fanatic world. Our President, VP, and the Cabinet all lack of life time experience with radical Islam. As a matter of fact, they did not even know how evil or angry these fanatic Muslims are until we got attacked on 9/11. Even now after three years, we are still unable to think clearly. If I was in charge, I would make it an unwritten rule to stop all new visas to Muslims, until we can observe an honest initiative by the Muslim nations to reform. Increasing the size of the fifth column in our country is not a smart thing to do, and also not a smart thing to wish upon the Europeans by forcing them to accept the 60 million Muslim Turks.
RE: "you have eyes but you cannot see, and ears and cannot hear."
Doing a little projecting, are we? BTW, everything you said in your email could have been posted for everyone to see. I insist upon communicating in the open, please.
Just by referring to Turkey as a "Muslim country" and a "Muslim democracy" as the President and Sec. of State Powell did, respectively, insulted the Republic of Turkey. Please see the reference I've cited -- I've included yet ANOTHER reference. Hint: where are your references?
I know it's hopeless but I urge you to read Michael Rubin's National Review Online article, "Talking Turkey Shes a democracy -- no qualifiers," August 06, 2004.
Many Turks are worrried that the Bush Administration is too kind to the AKP. Mr. Rubin states that "The AKP has a thinly veiled Islamist agenda."
For example, "In May 2004, [AKP leader and Prime Minister] Erdogan pushed an educational-reform bill that would have eased entry of religious-school graduates into Turkey's university system. The Turkish general staff -- which sees itself as defenders of secularism and the constitution balked, forcing the AKP to shelve the bill for the year. But, both politicians and military officials believe Erdogan will try again next year"
More: Turkey's religious schools (encouraged by the AKP leadership) are the source of those hijab you spoke about above. To wit, "Turkey's religious schools have become hothouses for radicalism. . .women increasingly not only wear headscarves but also the head-to-toe black hijab characteristic of Saudi Arabia."
The AKP is a possible threat. It does not help that Washington fawns over the "Islamist" party and shuns the majority of Turks who have been friends and allies for years.
Here is the conclusion of Mr. Rubins's article. Perhaps others will read the entire article plus the article posted with this thread and actually get an understanding of the problem.
"Turkey's secularists and nationalists are increasingly bitter with Washington. In the outlying residential districts of Istanbul, far from where tourists venture, posters dot storefronts and apartment blocks. They depict an octopus wearing an Uncle Sam hat, with tentacles labeled AKP. The octopus is strangling Turkey. Washington's close association with the AKP encourages Turkey's secular parties to conflate distrust of the Islamists with the renewed anti-Americanism unleashed by AKP press and publications. At the same time, Washington will win no true friends among the AKP, which seeks to build its relations with Paris, Berlin, Damascus, and Tehran, not on their own merits, but rather on the ruins of Ankara's 'special relationship' with Washington. Bush's advance team did not help during his visit. In Istanbul and Ankara, the State Department invited vocal critics of U.S. policy to meet the president, but neglected to invite some prominent Turks who not only have long supported Washington, but also advocated for Iraq's liberation. The Bush doctrine -- at least in implementation -- and the Clinton doctrine appear little different when it comes to coddling adversaries and slighting friends.
"The U.S.-Turkish relationship is too important to be undermined by the political correctness of our diplomatic corps. Our ambassador to Ankara, Eric Edelman, is excellent, but he is one man among many, and is still focused on repairing the damage wrought by the disastrous tenure of his predecessor. Sometimes tough love is necessary. Perhaps it is time for Bush, Powell, and Rice to say that we respect Turkey, for the same reasons we respect Israel, South Korea, India, and Taiwan -- because it is a democracy. We will oppose any government or politician that seeks to undermine that democracy. We will support the AKP, not because we like it, but only because the Turkish people elected it. But, there is no reason why the State Department should not invite politicians from secular parties to Washington. There is no reason why the White House should not fete our friends, and only politely receive those who bash us in their local media. If Erdogan is really a democrat, then he will understand the need for Washington to hear a plethora of voices." [End excerpt]
As mentinoed in Mr. Rubin's article you can bet the Army is once again watching things very closely.
" There is no way radical Islam will dominate Turkey unless it can defeat the Army."
This sentence should read:
"Radical islam will dominate Turkey as soon as it infiltrates the officer corps of the Army."
I give it five years.
I suppose I'll be forced back to google to prove it but like I said above: the issues in the election were the miserable economy and corruption. The AKP was repeatedly asked about its feelings toward Islam. They assured voters that they respected the secular government and they were not Islamists.
It appears they could have lied.
I trust the Turkish Army to handle it. It won't be the first time but this time it will not likely be as easy as the times before this -- even with the usual popular support. For anyone reading the article by Mr. Rubin they will know that the number of religious school students is well over a million. Plus there is the usual percentage of the population who are fundamentalists.
I thought of that but I have no way to judge. I know that -- to the best of my knowledge -- there is strict rules about the military and Islam. Not allowed to mix. Period.
If that is not true I'd really appreciate any sources. As much as I liked and admired the Turks years ago I know that things change -- boy! things really did a 180 when Iran went radical.
But! Iran was not a constitutional democratic Republic and did not have a much admired (worshiped?) founder, Ataturk.
It is ironic that we still support Turkey's membership in the EU. It was a matter of Turkish interest that we did so in 1999, not U.S., but I think it was regarded as a reward for their support in the Cold War. Why Bush decided to do so after the Turkish stab in the back in the second Gulf War is very curious. That may be as it was presented, a hasty and since regretted decision of a new government, but I do not see a great deal of open thaw from that government since and none whatever from the leftist intelligentsia and media, nor is there likely to be; that group is the most European of the Turks, meaning the most useless and doctrinaire socialist. They'd fit right in with the French.
What has to happen is that the Turkish government must grow up. It must get along with the Kurds, because they are the future of northern Iraq and will come into possession of the oil facilities however much the Turks howl. Moreover, the U.S. owes them the debt that it used to owe Turkey and no longer does; that of an ally in war.
The Kurds, for their part, must learn to accept their gains and not lust after a Kurdistan that includes Turkish territory. Their own regional government shows distinct signs of a maturity and experience that give me a great deal of hope that they will. They're going to have to live with their neighbors now, and their neighbors with them. At least the Iraqi ones will no longer be gassing them.
I have Turkish friends and a great deal of regard for the quality of their culture and all that it has accomplished. It ran a true world empire long before the U.S. was ever accused of wanting to. Its new government needs to start acting like it.
I cannot argue with what you say. I do feel a little uncomfortable with the thought that Turkey stabbed us in the back. I assume that is related to our troops and their territory.
I followed those events pretty closely because Turkey was catching so much hell on the forum I used at the time. Turkish public opinion was dead set against letting us use their territory. One reason I believe is the public felt that Turkey's economic problems were directly related to the failure of us and Europe to live up to promises from the Gulf War. Another relatively minor factor was their public was aware that the discussions over economic aid being offered by us to them was being portrayed in our press as Turkey "haggling" for all it could get -- the stereotype thing.
There were political problems. The AKP leader Erdogan was still barred from becoming Prime Minister, Gul was acting as the AKP concentrated on making it possible for Erdogan to become Prime Minister. As I recall, Gul was willing to let our troops in but members of the older parties helped defeat the effort owing to pressures from France vis-a-vis membership in the EU. There was also much criticism of how Washington's civilians handled it especially dismissing Turkey's concern over the PKK's worrisome presence in northern Iraq.
I was very disappointed but Turkey did have its own national concerns -- not a very popular opinion for me to express as I found out.
I believe that Turkish businessmen are doing tons of business with the Kurds in Iraq. (Of course, the PKK is another very separate matter.) The quotes form the posted article in my #7 reply paints what could turn out to be a lasting relationship if the Kurds do as you suggested.
I agree. Europe has nothing to gain and much to lose from admitting Turkey.
And here'a a radical concept - we could stand back and let the EU & Turkey work it out. If the EU lets Turkey in, they can kiss their remaining freedoms good-bye. The Turks will swamp the EU, and immigration will allow extremist Muslims in all across Europe.
But if Europe wants to cut their own throat (perhaps literally), so be it.
I thank God for the Atlantic Ocean!
"-- there is strict rules about the military and Islam. Not allowed to mix. Period."
There are rules that the government is to remain secular--enforced by the military if necessary. But what happens when the military goes Islamic--who will enforce things then? The fact is, the Turkish government will be as Islamic as the military allows it to be, rules be damned.
If extremists can take over the Paki Intelligence structure, they can move into the military leadership of Turkey--making all the proper promises of course.
But it comes down to the old question--who will watch the watchman.
We aren't forcing anything on the EU. They do what they want and particularly what their own islamfacists constituencies demand. Turkey stiffed us in Afghanistan. Eu and them deserve each other.
Our president is pressuring Europe to accept Turkey as an equal member! That is what I was talking about for several days.
The Turkish prime minister and Bush already made plans about the oil reserves in the southeast. The prime minister, who doesn't give a damn about his country, is trying to get Turkey into EU in the hopes that under 'human rights' codes, hijab will be allowed everywhere and further on, the southeast of Turkey will be handed over to Kurds, just like they are practically selling the north of Cyprus to the Greek side. Bush probably agreed to give Erdogan a considerable profit for all this.
I hope that my beautiful country doesn't get accepted to EU. Not only will it allow the facist islamists to destroy the values of secularism, republic, and everything else that is civil, with the blink of an eye, it will also bring strict restrictions to the army, which will allow all those hungry European countries, who had their eyes on our land for hundreds of years, take over our land and make up some human rights lie to justify it all.
Of course, I feel sorry for them because they will be flooded by the dirt of Turkey, at the same time. The only people who will leave Turkey to go work and live in Europe will be the ones that are unemployed in Turkey and the ones that want to spread Islam. It's a TERRIBLE thing for both Turkey and Europe. I really hope Chirac and all the rest who don't want us in have it their way. The day we get into EU, all hell will break loose.
Personally, I don't have a religion. I have my own beliefs about God and so on. I accept and welcome any religion / religious people as long as their belief makes them a better person. To answer your question though, there are tons of people like me in Turkey who feel the same way, and most will call themselves Muslim because we have been that way for a while. Just like with any religion, I guess you can believe in the core values and morals of it but anything that falls out of your perception of life, you won't practice. So for instance, these people that i know about don't pray 5 times a day, but may visit a mosque once their life, or won't fast but wish one another happy holidays. So, I hope that answers your question.
Of course this is true for major cities and well-developed places in Turkey. If you go to a small village, they'll be a lot more conservative and religious there. On that note, however, the Anatolian culture is very different than Arabic. We're a mix of Oriental, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures so a Muslim from Turkey is usually quite different from a Muslim from anywhere else, because our traditions include a mix of all these different cultures. Like I can relate so incredibly well to my Coratian friend, and at the same time, I can relate to a Lebanese friend of mine AND a Chinese friend, as well.
Oh, and something interesting. I read somewhere that in the Koran there are passages about how Turks are Muslims' enemies and stuff. At that time we weren't even related to the Islamic world and nobody really explains how and why we switched from our own religion (which worshipped the sky and the sun gods) to one that sees us as the enemy. I would like to know if you (or anyone on the board) have any insight on this.
And thanks for the response! I really enjoy hearing different opinions and reading comments from people who know what they're talking about.
You said Turkey WAS a secular country.
It still IS and I think I'd stab myself in the heart if that ever changed. It's still agains the law to enter any government building, school or university with a headscarf, or any other religious symbol, for that matter. But there are those who break the law. So I guess i'ts kind of true to say that unfortunately, with the new government, and their men in some key positions in the country (like deans in universities and even most likely spies in the army), the authority to punish these people is lacking. So we are still secular but there has never been a threat this big against it since it was founded.
Having observed that barbaric attitude from religious leaders, and main stream educated Muslim followers, I arrived at the conclusion that it is IMPOSSIBLE to talk sense or objectivity to ANY Muslim. Now, I stand corrected. But I must add, since you are a nonpracticing Muslim, you feel free to criticize Muslims, and Islam. I am a nonpracticing Catholic, and also I feel free to criticize Catholicism, and Christianity. Practicing Christians, however, can carry discussions with me without resorting to death threats. On the other hand, practicing Muslims CANNOT allow you or me to criticize their religion without death threats.
I am happy that there are good number of Muslim Turks who are open minded, and who are not fanatic about all the nonsense of Islam. You know the majority of Europeans have giving up on Christianity all together. It would be great if religious leaders from the Christian side, the Jewish side, and the Muslim side all get together in front of the TV camera, and tell their followers: WE WANT TO LET YOU IN ON A BIG SECRET, THIS WHOLE RELIGION THING IS MAN MADE! Religions where invented thousands of years ago to establish a code of ethics to an otherwise barbaric human beings. Like any sport team, or political parties, the followers became fanatics, and hated the opposing teams!! Once the general public realized that the whole thing is MAN MADE, then the US, Israel, the Muslim nations will have less tension, which is typically created by religion zealots.
Again, if you take a picture of downtown Istanbul 30 years ago, and today, you will realize a significant increase in women wearing scarfs. That says it all to me; AN INCREASE IN FANATIC MUSLIMS!
You are like a piece of wood in an angry ocean of hate, YOU WILL NEVER going to be able to sustain secularism. The imported hate from Iran, and the other low life Arab countries will swallow any resistance by the thinking moderate tolerant Turks.