Books on Turkey
Update No: 133 - (30/06/08)
A schizophrenic state
Turkish ruling circles are endlessly at odds with one another, and have been for
The military and the Constitutional Court see each other as being the custodians
of the secular tradition of Ataturk, one of the truly great leaders of the
twentieth century (if only there could have been his equivalent in Iran). The
Islamicist ruling government under the AKP is not so punctilious in its
observances about the constitution of the secularist state.
The fact is that the majority of the Turks are observing Muslims. Yet 75% of
them, according to Norman Stone, Professor of History at Bishkent University,
outside Ankara, but resident in Istanbul, are proud of belonging to the West.
This makes Turkey a truly exceptional country that bridges the divide in the
world between the West and the rest, particularly Islam. Actually now so does
Albania, but it is miniscule, albeit important for all that.
Attacking the PKK
The Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) is causing endless problems right now. A
Marxist remnant, it wants to create an independent Kurdistan.
It sees the unstable situation in Iraq as its moment. There are 13 mn Kurds in
Turkey, yet only 4mn in Iraq. But the latter have two de facto independent
statelets there, while being totally loyal to the US-sponsored fiction that they
are de jure part of Iraq. After all Washington wields the purse strings.
The military in Ankara have their own ideas about the PKK. Turkish warplanes
bombed outlawed separatist PKK bases in neighbouring northern Iraq over the
weekend of June 7-8, The raid against the outlawed PKK targeted the Zap area,
close to Turkey's border with Iraq.
A brief statement posted on the military's website said that, in the raid,
Turkish jets "effectively" hit the PKK target in the Zap region just
across the shared border. Turkey, provided with intelligence on PKK movements in
Iraq by the U.S., has stepped up military action against the PKK since December,
carrying out several air strikes and a week-long ground incursion into northern
Iraq in February, where more than 2,000 PKK separatists take refuge.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by much of the international community
including the U.S. and the EU.
There is, however, “an exceptional attempt being made to broker a
diplomatic solution. In Baghdad, more efforts were required to set up long-term
relations between Turkey and Iraq”, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, himself a
Kurd, said during his meeting with Turkey's Special Envoy to Iraq, Murat Ozcelik.
On the diplomatic front, Ankara has begun to establish a dialogue mechanism with
the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq, an important shift in Turkey's
The constitution needs to be changed
The ruling AKP is under dire challenge from the secular authorities. It faces a
threat of dismemberment. Its predecessor, the Welfare Party, was banned in 2001.
It is responding with plans to overhaul the structure of the country's
Constitutional Court, including crippling its powers in an expanded
constitutional amendments package, the ‘Milliyet’ daily reported on June 8.
AKP’s decision to push forward an expanded legislation package was taken in
June 5’s high-decision making body meeting.
The report said AKP officials were divided in the meeting, some said the package
should only be made to overhaul the Court’s structure, while some others
supposed to adopt a “wait-and-see” approach, the Milliyet added.
The Constitutional Court’s decision to annul a law lifting the headscarf ban
in universities, started a fierce debate as some experts and the AKP government
suggested the Court cannot examine constitutional amendments on its essence,
while some others say it has right to do if they threaten the non-amendable
articles of the Constitution. AKP said the ruling targeted the parliament not
just one party.
The AKP is expected to seek compromise with the other parties in the parliament.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is likely to call the other parties to come
together to defend the power of the parliament at Tuesday’s parliamentary
group meeting, according to the report.
‘Milliyet’ also said the main goal of the package would be “to guarantee
the principle of separation of powers,” however no further details were
disclosed regarding the package. The timing of the package’s legislation
process would depend on the attitude of the opposition parties.