If Ankara's irresponsible behavior has worrisome implications for the Middle East and Islam, it also has a mitigating aspect. Turks have been at the forefront of developing what I call Islamism 2.0, the popular, legitimate, and non-violent version of what Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden tried to achieve forcefully via Islamism 1.0. I have predicted that Erdogan's insidious form of Islamism "may threaten civilized life even more than does 1.0's brutality."
But his abandonment of earlier modesty and caution suggests that Islamists cannot help themselves, that the thuggishness inherent to Islamism must eventually emerge, that the 2.0 variant must revert to its 1.0 origins. As Martin Kramer posits, "the further Islamists are from power, the more restrained they are, as well as the reverse." This means it might be the case that Islamism presents a less formidable opponent, and for two reasons.
First, Turkey hosts the most sophisticated Islamist movement in the world, one that includes not just the AKP but the Fethullah Gülen mass movement, the Adnan Oktar propaganda machine, and more. AKP's new bellicosity has caused dissension; Gülen, for example, publicly condemned the "Free Gaza" farce, suggesting a debilitating internal battle over tactics could take place.
Second, if once only a small band of analysts recognized Erdogan's Islamist outlook, this fact has now become self-evidently obvious for the whole world to see. Erdogan has gratuitously discarded his carefully crafted image of a pro-Western "Muslim democrat," making it far easier to treat him as theTehran-Damascus ally that he is.
As Davutoglu seeks, Turkey has returned to the center of the Middle East and the umma. But it no longer deserves full NATO membership and its opposition parties deserve support.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Daniel Pipes says Turkey may have overreached by sponsoring the recent Islamist flotilla attack on Israel: