Monday, August 13, 2007

The looming transformation of Turkey

When I was a student in Glasgow there was much talk among the European students of whether they believed Turkey should be allowed to join the EU. Most of them opposed its membership and from all the data I have seen so do the majority of Europeans, thinking it is not traditionally part of Europe, too much a home of Islamic fundamentalism, an unrepentant perpetrator of genocide against the Armenians, and antagonistic to the Greeks. However, as an officially secular nation with a large population Turkey thought itself suitable.

Now that their bid for membership has been blocked and faded from view the Islamist party seems poised to take power and undo many of the secular principles on which Ataturk founded the republic. This is, needless to say, not good. Turkey is a country with a population of over 71 million and until now has been a friend to the US. If Turkey is lost to Islamic radicalism a vital strategic ally in the region is lost and another large Mid East state may eventually go the way of Iran. The need for a war of ideas against Islamism has never looked more pressing.

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