Sunday, December 20, 2015

Turkey's AKP and its record help us understand its present
NATO's Islamists (pdf)

  • By the second half of the 1990s, however, it was becoming clear that the Islamist regimes in Iran and Afghanistan were corrupt, inefficient or coercive, while international Islamic banks and credit institutions were plagued by scandal. Faced with state repression, Islamist resistance movements in Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere alienated their supporters by resorting to indiscriminate violence. ‘Actually existing’ Islamist radicalism was becoming broadly discredited. This disillusion with religious militancy in the Muslim world was given powerful impetus by Washington’s change of line. Having been willing to arm the crudest Islamist groups against Communism during the Cold War, and to back such murderous confessional states as General Zia’s Pakistan, the US had started to distinguish between fundamentalist and ‘moderate’ Islam. The latter referred to religious movements that cooperated with Western hegemony, while oppositional forms were now redefined as terrorists. 
  • The third vote was carried out in ErdogFan’s authoritarian presence: a crushing majority of AKP deputies now voted in favour of sending troops to Iraq... the votes demonstrated that the AKP could prevail against the will of 90 per cent of Turkish citizens on a matter of international war. The legacy of decades of Islamist activism had been appropriated to support an Anglo-American military invasion in the Muslim world.
  • A major test for the Islamists was the dispatch of Turkish troops to join the UK force in Lebanon in October 2006. As with Iraq, a majority of the population was strongly opposed to the Israeli invasion and the IDF destruction of south Beirut...  [A] decision ratified by 340 to 192 in an emergency session of the Meclis on September 5th, despite opinion polls which showed that some 80 per cent of the public was against the measure. The decision was also welcomed, of course, by the EU, the Western media and pro-Western liberals in Turkey; some European commentators even saw it as a good reason to speed up EU accession talks.
  • Domestically, the new ‘conservative democrats’ have worked closely with the IMF to cut public spending—aiming at a 6 per cent surplus...and privatize both public enterprises and natural resources. The AKP is undertaking an extensive privatization of public forests—justified by the claim that it will only sell off tracts that have ‘lost their quali- ties’ as forests. Real-estate speculators have known how to interpret the message: there were 829 fires in the first seven months of 2003 which scorched 1,755 hectares of forest, qualifying them as fit for privatization.

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