Monday, April 30, 2007

No possible Turkish delight here

Whoever has visited Turkey, and in particular Istanbul, has enjoyed the many facets of this delightful country. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia it is a most interesting place. But it's stability and position in the firmament is threatened as its Presidential election approaches.

The NY Times reports on the implications for Turkey - and its strategic place in the region. One cannot help but ponder where what is happening in Turkey is destined to end up.

"A huge crowd that appeared to number in the hundreds of thousands gathered in central Istanbul today to protest against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and what they said was his agenda to move Turkey away from the country’s secular legacy.

In a growing political showdown in Turkey, the country’s long-ruling secular establishment, backed by its powerful military, is confronting a new class of Islamic-influenced political modernizers, led by Mr. Erdogan. The confrontation has burst into public view over Mr. Erdogan’s choice for president: Abdullah Gul, his foreign minister and a close ally.

The presidency is the most important post in the secular establishment, and the prospect that it could be occupied by a man whose background is in political Islam is seen as deeply threatening. Voters do not choose the president directly; instead, the country’s parliament elects the president.

On Friday, the military, which has ousted four elected governments since 1960, warned that it would intervene again if the government did not demonstrate sufficient respect for the secular state."

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