Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

The Genesis of the Turkish Model

Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

The Genesis of the Turkish Model

Article excerpt

The Genesis of the Turkish Model

Introduction:

'Turkey's greatness lies in its ability to be at the centre of things. This is not where East and West divide - it is where they come together'. ."

Barrack Obama ; April 6 , 2009

The idea of an essential conflict between Islam and the West , while rooted deep in history, re-surfaced in the 21st century and shaped the modern world post 9/11(Dagi, 2005). The rhetoric of war on terror on both sides reinforced the clash of civilizations narrative proposed by Huntington a decade earlier (Huntington, 1993). An alternative development in one particular country during the same time however, challenged this dominant narrative. While the civilizations clashed in the battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq , Turkey built grounds for peace . The new Turkish Islamist government showed in more than one ways how Islam and the West can coexist in modern times (Dagi,2005; Rabasa & Larrabee , 2008; Taspinar, 2012). The Turkish model thus became a subject worth studying.

Turkey has a long history of serving as a bridge across the Islam and the West divide . As a melting pot of Islamic and Western civilizations culturally and geographically the country's historical progression has remained unique ( Taspinar , 2012; Mortimer, 1995). Turkey also upholds the distinction of retaining its independence at a time when most of the Islamic world was under Western subjugation. The rise of the West , however did have a profound impact on the declining Turkish Ottoman empire. For the past two hundred years , Turkey's history has been shaped by the mounting Western power( Dagi, 2005). The Turks, just like the Muslims in other parts of the world during this time sought explanation of their weakness against the West. The military might of the West was especially an urgent problem which demanded immediate attention for securing borders against the European onslaught. The Western system was thus introduced by the Ottomans to modernize armed forces and to catch up with the Western progress. The Westernization in Turkey began with the institution of military during the late Ottoman period. In early 20th century the same modernized military instigated the Young Turk movement which demanded the rule of constitution instead of caliphate in Turkey (Ahmad, 2003). Mustafa Kemal Pasha who emerged as a savior of Turkey after World War I, was a part this movement. After the establishment of the Republican Turkey, Westernization was imposed by the state in all sections of state and society, to ensure a West like progress (Dagi, 2005). But even after eight decades of state led Westernization in Turkey, the result of this experiment remained disputed (Rabasa & Larrabee, 2008). Religion remained a potent force in Turkey culturally, and by the end of the 20th century became visible in politics as well.

The Justice and Development Party, better known as AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) came to power in Nov 2002. This new party though rooted in Islamist tradition, departed from the traditional Islamist position on some key issues. The party advocated religious moral values but was willing to work within Turkish secular democratic framework. It supported market economy and Turkey's bid to European Union membership. Party's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan described himself as 'a man of the middle path'. The nature of political Islam thus changed in Turkey (Mecham , 2004 ; p 349). It is this particular model of a modern, moderate , Muslim state that came to be known as 'the Turkish model' , a popular case in the following years in the Muslim as well as the Western world owing to its economic as well as ideological success (Ozbudun , 2006; pp 546-547).

The term 'Turkish model' has been a news media catchphrase in the West as well as the Islamic world during the Arab Spring (Kirisci, 2013).The idea of a prosperous Muslim democracy seemed appealing to the struggling Middle East , determined to overthrow the old status quo; and the anxious West , apprehensively watching the erratic developments in the vital region . …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.