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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 237,972 182,848 147,700 21
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,790 2,500 2,530 92
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Turkey


Update No: 132 - (01/06/08)

The Kurdish question
The point is not sufficiently appreciated in the wider world how so much in Turkey depends upon the Kurds. They make up one fifth of the population - on some reckoning, given their clandenistinity, one quarter. Officially thirteen million, their numbers may be much greater in the more-than 70 million population. Their integration into the Turkish body politic is a top priority.

The omens are not all unfavourable. More than 50% of them, 52% to be precise, voted for the ruling AKP-led government in mid-2007 elections. The key was that they really want integration into Turkey and its Western ways, democracy not least. Kurds are far better-off in Turkey than anywhere else.

The Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), with its Marxist-Leninist blandishments, is not so popular, nor its militant wing's advocacy of violence. They have not helped the cause of the Kurds in thirteen confrontational years that has brought 13,000 deaths.

What has done so is the war in Iraq. This war debouched rapidly into a civil war, so ineptly was it conducted by Washington and, it has to be said, London. But there are two beneficiaries all the same, the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. The two Kurdish enclaves in Iraq were in constant peril from Saddam - now they are benefiting from a huge influx of investment from abroad that would have been most unlikely to have ever materialised with him and his psychopathic sons in charge in Baghdad. The destruction of the Marsh Arab way of life, an invaluable resource not just to themselves, but to world civilisation in the age of global warming, was nipped in the bud.

The AKP is an advocate of moderate Islam
The ruling party in Turkey is an Islamicist affair, which it is proud to manifest. President Gul's wife disports her headscarf to the outrage of the secularists.

It is a very important player on the world stage. It has accepted the secularism of the Turkish state laid down by Ataturk, a true statesman of the previous century, so replete with rogues and monsters in power.

It shows that there is a devout, but moderate, wing of Islam, quite compatible with Western precepts of governance, liberal-democracy to the fore. Its leaders, Premier Erdogan and President Gul, are certainly pious Muslims, but they also are certainly democrats, devoted to the Western way forward.

They even advocated that Turkey allow the US to deploy its troops from its southern border into Iraq in the 2003 invasion of the country. They were thwarted by the parliament in March of that year, from which one can draw at least two conclusions:-

A) Turkey is a democracy in fact - more indeed than the so-called 'mother of parliaments,' Westminster, which supinely backed the operation without a proper debate, under the dictat of the governing executive, despite the fact that the majority of MPs in all parties had the gravest misgivings about it. 

B) The decision was quite right. Democracy is vindicated. The Turks, if they had permitted US deployment from their territory would almost certainly have been dragged into the dire conflict themselves. 

They were, as it so happens, when responding recently to PKK incursions from Northern Iraqi bases into Turkey. But they behaved tolerably after sending limited forces across the border, and swiftly withdrew after realising their tactical objectives against the PKK militants.

There are moderates even within the PKK. These are the people the AKP needs to engage with. The key figure here is Ocalan, the PKK leader, who has been advocating peaceful means from his prison cell, incarcerated several years ago.
His release would be a mighty blow for peace. 

A domestic crisis
Turkey was plunged into political turmoil in March when the Constitutional Court agreed to consider a case by a chief prosecutor, who seeks the ruling AKP's closure. Its predecessor, the Welfare Party, was closed in 2001 as breaching the secularism of the Turkish polity, which did not prevent it just re-opening under another name, with the same faces in charge, and winning subsequent elections and re-election last year.

Turkish courts on constitutional grounds, have banned more than 20 parties over the years on allegations of Islamist or Kurdish separatist agendas. There is a simmering row in Turkey longstanding, going back to Ataturk, over the roles in national politics of religion and secularism, in support of the latter tradition the armed forces and the judiciary see themselves as the custodians. Its ruling AK Party, rooted in moderate Islam, saw its isolation deepen on May 22 when a former ally accused it of waging jihad, or holy war, against the country's judiciary. 

The opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which in the past has often supported the government on policy moves, said the Islamist-rooted AKP was attacking the legal establishment in its bid to avoid being shut down for alleged violation of Turkey's secular constitution. 'Instead of defending themselves on a legitimate basis, the prime minister and the AKP have chosen the path of showing their political strength and practically declared a jihad against the judiciary,' MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said in a statement.

'Prime Minister (Tayyip) Erdogan and the AKP have launched a campaign of illegitimate and immoral attacks, threats and terror, targeting the independent Turkish judiciary,' he said, calling on President Abdullah Gul to act to restore harmony. Gul said, according to the state Anatolian news agency, that he would consider the request. 

Deepening row 
The nationalist statement underlined the AKP's increased isolation in parliament in its deepening row with the country's judges. It followed a fierce exchange on Wednesday between the government and the Court of Appeals, which said political circles were seeking to influence the judiciary. 

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek responded by saying the court comments were politically motivated and accused it of trying to bolster legal moves to close the party.

Turkey's financial markets are nervously monitoring the court case and associated row, fearing the impact of months of political uncertainty. The lira currency fell earlier in mid-May on fears the ruling party would be closed down.

Turkey's secularist establishment, including elements of the judiciary and army generals, has long accused the AKP of plotting to erode the republic's separation of state and religion. The AK Party rejects the accusations. 

The chief prosecutor of the Court of Appeals is also calling for 71 AK Party members, including Gul and Erdogan, to be banned from belonging to a political party for five years. 

Secularists cite a recent amendment to the constitution, lifting a ban on female university students wearing the Muslim headscarf, as evidence of the party's efforts to undermine the country's secular system. 

The AK Party has presented its preliminary defence to the court and a response from the prosecutor is expected shortly. Senior AK Party sources told Reuters that the party was preparing itself for the possibility that the Constitutional Court may close it down and ban the prime minister from politics. A successor to AK Party would then be formed, they said. History would just repeat itself. 

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