Does Erdogan want his own Islamic state?

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves from the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce mosque after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkey, April 15, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Murad Sezer) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves from the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce mosque after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkey, April 15, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

 

Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman unexpectedly sparked controversy in Turkey when on April 25 he declared that Turkey’s new constitution should forgo mention of “secularism” and instead be a “religious constitution” referencing God. His words reignited Turkey’s always tense “secularism debate,” which has been amplified since 2002 when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power. Kahraman’s remarks led to protests in a number of cities, a call by the main opposition leader for him to resign and allegations by secular pundits that the Speaker had shown the AKP’s “true face,” its “real intentions.” Because Kahraman is a known confidant of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, many also suspected that his statement was part of a scheme being orchestrated by Turkey’s leader. Continue reading

Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei Warns President Rouhani on Economy

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (left) recently implied that if President Hassan Rouhani fails to adopt a “Resistance Economy” approach, it would negatively impact the President’s aspirations for a second term.

 

  • Ayatollah Khamenei made clear that he would hold President Rouhani responsible for a failure to produce improvements in Iran’s economy. He implied that if Rouhani fails to adopt a “Resistance Economy” approach, it would negatively impact Rouhani’s aspirations for a second term.
  • Khamenei’s warning to conserve foreign-currency windfalls that result from the lifting of sanctions is probably a criticism of Rouhani’s recent visit to Europe, where he signed deals to purchase 138 passenger planes.
  • Rouhani’s management of the economy will be closely monitored by hardliners seeking a return to popularity and the presidency in the 2018 presidential elections.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last month used the Persian New Year holiday (Nowruz) to deliver his most comprehensive plan for Iran’s economy. His address, proclaimed from his hometown of Mashhad, outlined ten principles of the “Resistance Economy.”

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“Secular” Turkey

  • A deeper look into the history of Turkey reveals that, unfortunately, Turkey has never been either truly secular or democratic. In Turkey, freedom of conscience and religion is respected — but only if you are a practicing Sunni Muslim.
  • The problem is that “modern” Turkey claims to be a “secular” republic; a secular republic is supposed to treat all people — Muslims and non-Muslims — equally. The objective of the Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs), on the other hand, is to keep religion (Islam) under the control of the state, and to keep the people under the control of the state by means of religion.
  • “Those who are not genuine Turks can have only one right in the Turkish fatherland, and that is to be a servant, to be a slave. We are in the most free country of the world. They call this Turkey.” — Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, Turkey’s first Minister of Justice, 1930.

When many Western analysts discuss the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, they rightfully criticize it for its religious intolerance, authoritarianism and lack of respect for secular principles and minorities. They also tend to compare the AKP to former Kemalist governments, and draw a distinction between the Islamist AKP and former non-Islamist governments.

They claim that Turkey was “secular” and somewhat “democratic,” until the AKP came to power.

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Generals opting out as Turkish military seen ‘turning from secular to Islamist’

ANKARA — Turkey’s once powerful General Staff is reportedly struggling
amid the resignation of senior military officers.

Military sources said senior officers were increasingly choosing early
retirement rather than confront the intervention of Prime Minister Recep
Erdogan.

They said many of the officers were dismayed by the return of
personnel linked to Islamist groups as well as the arrest of 400 officers accused of supporting a coup against the ruling Justice and Development Party. Continue reading