Erdogan and the future of… Egypt
"For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability. Oppression became common, but stability never arrived. We must take a different approach. We must help the reformers of the Middle East as they work for freedom, and strive to build a community of peaceful, democratic nations." George W. Bush, Speech to UN General Assembly, September 21, 2004
In short. the United States has always supported the Turkish army’s ultimate control of Turkish life and now the generals are being hung out to dry.
Now, it must be said that the Turkish army has in no way hindered Turkey’s modernization, quite the contrary. That has never been the issue. The Turkish army has been the guardians of the legacy of modern Turkey’s founder,Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a secular nationalist bent on turning Turkey into a modern European country, despite the continuing traditionalist piety of Turkey’s masses. The irony is that the culminating of Atatürk’s ambition of European-ization, joining the European Union, is helping an Islamist-traditionalist political party to disassemble the Kemalist, pro-western, power structure.
The referendum result is a triumph for Erdogan’s ideology. It’s hard to imagine the heads of Turkey’s army plotting another coup, given that the reforms now allow them to be tried in civilian court, or the country’s high court banning certain political parties as it has in the past.(…) Erdogan will remain hated by the Turkish secular elite, which is concentrated in the army, universities and business community. But he is beloved by Turkey’s poorer, devout periphery. The prime minister has straightened the backbone of the marginalized, and in return has received their undying loyalty. HaaretzIn a largely Muslim country that sits at the crossroads of East and West, Turks who treasure secular rule are again warning about a “creeping coup” of political Islam. (…) In truth, the constitutional changes conform to democratic norms. They strengthen individual rights, privacy, and unions. They bring the military – which ousted four governments in the last 50 years – further under civilian control. But the abstract truth is not the same as the political reality in Turkey. The reality is that this is a polarized country, with a large segment of the population increasingly mistrusting of the government. Editorial – Christian Science Monitor
(T)he rules that apply to the rest of Egypt do not apply to the military, still the single most powerful institution in an autocratic state facing its toughest test in decades, an imminent presidential succession.(…)Technically, Egyptian voters will determine their next leader in the 2011 elections, but in practice the governing party’s candidate is almost certain to win. The real succession struggle will take place behind closed doors, and that is where the military would try to assure its continued status or even try to block Mr. Mubarak’s son Gamal.(…) The military has much to lose in the transition, these officers and analysts say. Over the years, one-man rule eviscerated Egypt’s civilian institutions, creating a vacuum at the highest levels of government that the military willingly filled. “There aren’t any civilian institutions to fall back on,” said Michael Hanna, a fellow at the Century Foundation who has written about the Egyptian military.(…) The beneficiary of nearly $40 billion in American aid over the last 30 years, the Egyptian military has turned into a behemoth that controls not only security and a burgeoning defense industry, but has also branched into civilian businesses like road and housing construction, consumer goods and resort management. New York Times
The military interprets its writ broadly. A retired army general, Hosam Sowilam, recently said the army would step in “with force if necessary” to stop the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group, from ascending to power.
(Nobel Laureate and) Former UN nuclear weapons chief and prominent Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei (…) warned that the (Egyptian) poll would be marred by fraud, and that "anyone who participates in the vote either as a candidate or a voter goes against the national will". He went on to claim that the three-decade rule of president Hosni Mubarak was a "decaying, nearly collapsing temple", and promised activists that regime change was possible in the coming year. Guardian