By Barry Rubin
September 27, 2010
It is true that the passage of the referendum in
At the same time, though, there were many other provisions that the overwhelming majority of Turks wanted, expanding freedoms and civil liberties, reining in the possibility of military coups which those left of center have opposed in the past. Moreover, it was sold as a step toward Turkish entry into the European Union, still a prime goal though something that's never going to happen.
There are many contradictory aspects. The legal changes strengthen women's and privacy rights on paper but the regime has appointed hardly any women to high-ranking posts and has increased wire-tapping. To allow officers expelled from the army for Islamist activities to appeal the decision in court certainly seems to protect individual rights, but in practice it means that Islamists can now infiltrate the armed forces, organize politically, and if thrown out by the still-secular high command get it reversed by a regime-appointed judge.
I would bet that if it weren't for fear of the provisions strengthening the regime--90 percent of Turks would have supported the proposed changes instead of just 58 percent. But that was part of the trick: putting in some key provisions fundamentally transforming the Turkish republic amidst twenty others that mainly referred to historical or abstract issues.
While the Washington Post gets it right, asking whether the regime isn't reducing freedom and democracy in Turkey, the New York Times practically drools over the referendum and uncritically supports the regime in a shameful and quite ignorant manner:
"Turkey, already the Muslim Middle East's sturdiest democracy, fortified its freedoms in a referendum on Sunday, with 58 percent of voters approving a package of constitutional amendments meant to end army meddling in civilian politics. That overwhelming 'yes' vote showed that Turks are fed up with ultimatums and coups and want elected politicians fully in charge."
Um, yeah, but not pro-Iran, Islamist politicians
One day this kind of editorial will be compared to that newspaper's whitewashing of Stalinism in the 1930s and 1950s. Lenin once boasted that he would get the capitalists to sell him the rope with which to hang them. But even he thought that he would excite only their mercenary attributes while today Islamists often gain heartfelt and enthusiastic praise from their adversaries.
The fact is that the Islamist regime regularly use the praise it receives from U.S. officials, like this recent one from the assistant secretary of state and media to argue that it is really moderate; to demoralize its opponents; and continue to get away with its pro-Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah policy, while taking over more and more Turkish institutions. In other words,
Indeed, the regime is using
"The best indicator, showing that the same kind of importance is attached [to this relationship] by the US, is the fact that Turkey is the country to which President Barack Obama paid his first overseas trip soon after being elected, and the fact that he described our relations in the best way--as a model partnership,"
In other words, if Obama gives us a seal of approval, say the pro-Iran, pro-Hamas, pro-Hizballah Islamists who rule Turkey, how can anyone claim that we are on the side of the anti-American terrorists and revolutionary Islamists? The fact that
The referendum, then, did not end the struggle over
And what will the ruling AKP party do with power? It isn't just, for example, that the regime is pro-Iran but it is publicly, loudly, and outspokenly pro-Iran, daring the United States to do something about it.
So at the very moment that much of the world is tightening sanctions on
No problem with the Turkish regime, right?
Wrong. That government is becoming the main government-encouraged
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* Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the