Turkey's Democracy Saga: The Struggle Against Interventionist Politics

Turkey's Democracy Saga: The Struggle Against Interventionist Politics

by Ali Bulac


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Over the last decade, the Middle East has been in a state of extraordinary, at times violent, flux. Once the region’s biggest empire, then its "model" democracy, and always the bridge between the region and the West, Turkey has played a unique role in these movements—sometimes as inspirational model, sometimes as actor, and sometimes as observer. In this collection of essays, Ali Bulaç eruditely addresses issues as diverse as Turkey’s uphill battle for democracy, its relationship with global powers, the Kurdish issue, the AKP-Hizmet row, and the Erdoğan administration’s escalating authoritarianism and its horrific attacks on free speech and the rule of law in an attempt to cover up massive government corruption. Bulaç leverages a wealth of knowledge to dissect Turkey’s vital role in the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Israel, and he uses his position as a government outsider to examine Turkey’s internal dynamics from a fresh perspective. With unprecedented insight, searing commentary, and a profound intellect, these essays by Ali Bulaç form an ideal introduction to the socio-cultural and political canvas of both Turkey and the Middle East.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935295785
Publisher: Blue Dome Press
Publication date: 07/07/2015
Pages: 332
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ali Bulac is a prominent scholar and researcher on Islam and the sociology of Islamic societies. He extensively writes and lectures on Islam, Turkish politics, and the Middle East. He has more than twenty books in print and is currently a columnist for the Turkish dailies, Zaman and Today's Zaman. He lives in Istanbul, Turkey.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 Turkish Modernization Project 1

The Roots of Tension 1

Is Modernism Limited to Reforms Alone? 3

Formalism and Mimicry 5

Is Non-Western Modernization Possible? 7

Turkey: A Unique Example 8

State-Religion Relations 10

Demand for Good Governance 12

Can the Turkish Model Be a Source of Inspiration? 14

The Turkish Model: Breaking the Spirit of Authoritarianism 16

Sui Generis "Model of Secularism"! 18

Ultra-Secularism vs. Democratic Secularism 20

The Democratization of Secularism 22

Transcending Modernity 24

Chapter 2 Relations between the Center and the Periphery 27

The Periphery's Attempts to Integrate with the Center 27

The Codes of Turkish Politics 29

Sociocultural Roots 31

The "Other" Factor in Politics 34

To Be Able to Reconcile with the System or Not 36

June 12, 2011 Elections and the Faint Hope for More Democracy 38

The First Elections of the Post-Kemalist Era and the Hardest Time Yet to Come 40

Nothing Has Changed in the State Center's Ideology: "Reactionaryism" Out; "Abuse of Religion" In! 43

Chapter 3 Politics of Intervention 47

Tracing Telltale Signs of Interventionist Politics 47

The Feb. 28, 1997 Postmodern Coup and Its Hard-hitting Consequences 50

Will the Military Ghost Rise Again? 52

Coups Cannot Always Be Repeated 55

The Ergenekon Case: The Ontological, Essential, and Historical Correlations 57

Domestic and International Dimensions of the Ergenekon Case 59

The Sledgehammer Coup Plot 61

The Military's Influence on Civil Politics 64

Social Psychology of Military-Civilian Relations 66

Chapter 4 The Steep Slopes of Democracy: Pinnacles and Pitfalls 69

The Austere Passageway of Democracy 69

The 2010 Referendum Campaign: "Not Enough, but Yes" 71

"Nay" to the Century-Old Military Tutelage 73

The Meaning of a Civilian Constitution for Turkey 76

The Question of Party Closures 78

Penetrating into the Codes of the Gezi Park Resistance 80

The impact of Social Media on the Gezi Park Resistance 82

Power Politics and Restricting Freedoms 84

Heading in the Wrong Direction 85

The Illusion of Progress: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back 87

The Kemaiist Stumbling Block to the EU Membership 89

What the EU Fails to See 91

Religion and Politics in Turkey - Part One 93

Religion and Politics in Turkey - Part Two 95

Change of Political Names 97

Coup Plots and the Disgruntled Voters of the AK Party 99

Chapter 5 Prelude to the Tragic Account of the AK Party 103

Wrong Acts Defining the End 103

The Crux of the Problem: A Lack of Ethics and Morality 105

AK Party's Non-Islamic Policies 107

Is the AK Party an Islamist Party? 108

Taking off the Garb of the "National View" and Islamism 110

Erdogan's 2023 Target Lacks Social Capital and Peace 112

We Are on a Wrong Path 115

Growth without Social Justice 117

Chapter 6 Telltale Signs of the Deadlock 121

Making a Complete Mess of Relations at Home and Abroad 121

Why Are We at This Point? 123

Breaking the Promises That Paved the Way for the AK Party 125

Defying the Boss 127

Mistakes in Foreign Policy 129

A Policy That Did Not Work! 131

The Root Cause of Flawed Policies 133

Take It from the Top Again: Failed Foreign Policy 135

Chapter 7 The Saga of the AKP's Fatal Transformation 139

Turning into a Monstrous Dragon 139

Transcendental Conception of State and Power 141

Muslims' Monster 143

Both Religious and Non-Religious 145

Perception of State 146

Bureaucratic Center Assuming the Identity of the Ruling Party 149

New Type of CUP Activism 151

The Century-Old Nemesis, New Partner 153

Interregnum Period (2002-present) 155

Chapter 8 Identity, Community, and Politics 157

Nationalist and Religious Movements 157

Our Identities 159

Return to Religion: Cause or Effect? 161

Interference with Religion 163

Religious Communities and Politics 165

The "Community" Reality in the Postmodern World 167

Communities and the State 169

Scornful Stance against Communities: "After Me, the Flood" 171

Chapter 9 Seeing the Bigger Picture beyond the AKP-Hizmet Row 173

Reincarnation of the Tutelary Regime's Ancient Reflex 173

Failed Policy! 175

All Religious Communities Are under Threat 177

The State Restores Itself! 179

The Meaning of This Crisis 181

Moral Degeneration and Corruption 183

The Shocking Waste of Concerted Efforts 185

Collective Punishment 187

Social Opposition 189

Outdated Anachronism: The Perplexity of the AK Party 191

Tyrannical State Philosophy 193

The Beginning of 2015 195

Chapter 10 National-Transnational Problems and Prospects 197

State Elites' Perception of the Middle East 197

Paradigm Shift: Motherly Role in the Middle East 199

Internal and External Weakness 201

A Model in Terms of the Problem Solving Method 203

A Challenging Solution for Syria 205

The 'IS1L' Pretext 207

Turkey and Palestine 209

The Orientalist Language in Gaza Reports 210

Trade with Israel 212

Expanding Foreign Policy 214

The Kurdish Initiative 216

Domestic and Extraneous Factors of the Kurdish Initiative 218

How to Turn Turkey's Kurdish Problem into an International One 220

The Nest of the PKK and Manipulating Regional Politics 223

The Abdullah Öcalan Factor 224

The Kurdish Phenomenon in Northern Iraq 227

Turks and Kurds: Pursuing Peace and a Common Future Together 229

Chapter 11 The Changing Middle East 231

What Sort of Change Is Global Modernity? 231

Democracy and Modernization 233

Whose Democracy Is it? 235

Democratic Patience for Egypt 237

Opponents of Democracy 239

The Greater Middle East Project 241

A Way Out 243

Breaking Free of the Straitjacket with Internal Dynamics 245

The Discourse of "Barbarians in the Middle East" 247

The Political Destiny of the Middle East 249

Occupation Forces Left a Legacy of Crisis 251

Does Anybody Really Know? 253

Whose Turn Is Next after Syria? 255

The Iranian Threat? 257

Between the Merciful Tent of Empathy and the Brutal Antipathy 259

Call for Reason 261

Why Are We in Conflict with Each Other? 263

The Region at a Critical Juncture 265

Chapter 12 Human Rights 269

West, Islam, and Human Rights 269

Human Rights: Common Definitions and Varying Attitudes 271

Majority and Minority 273

Kurds and Their Rights 275

Islamic Rights of Non-Muslims 277

Chapter 13 Clash or Dialogue of Civilizations 279

Have the Clashes Ended? 279

Islam and Terror 281

A Carefully Orchestrated Fear: Islamophobia 283

"Islamic Terror" - a Smokescreen of Interventions 284

The Arguments and Goals of "Islamophobia" 286

Can Obama Defeat Islamophobia? 288

Europe Should Give up Isolating Itself 290

Reasons Not to Trust the EU 292

Varying Stances on Islam Bear the Potential to Dissociate Europe 294

Dialogue of People from Various Religions 296

The Pro-active Asset of Global Peace: Religious Diversity 298

Mardin Model: The Peaceful Coexistence of Diverse Identities 300

Diversity Is Our Richness 302

Interview: They Have Gained Access to the Secrets of the AK Party's Cosmic Chamber 305

Turkey Fell into the Trap of the Saudis 307

The Erdogan Government Wanted to Dominate the Middle East over Syria 308

We Cannot Overpower Syria 308

There Is a Danger of Irreligiosity Spreading in Turkey 310

Iran and Turkey Can Stop ISIS 311

The AKP Was Carried Away with the Lust of Reviving the Ottomans 312

Arabs Have Understood the Intentions of the Government 313

December 17, 2013: State Restoraton 314

The State Is Going to Make Use of the AK Party to the Full Extent, Then Throw It Away! 315

The Civic Religious Communities Have Turned into State Organizations 316

The AK Party: The Greatest Catasrophe since the Gallipoli War 317

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