The Looming Turkish Crisis

For a good rundown of what’s at stake in the mounting political crisis between Turkey’s Islamist AKP party on the one hand and the secular army and judiciary on the other, click through to this Howard Eissenstat piece over at Foreign Policy Watch. The takeaway is that given the ease with which Turkey’s Islamist parties have successfully reinvented themselves in the past, there’s a real risk that the army will pursue a more muscular approach to eradicate the AKP once and for all this time around. That, in turn, risks alienating the AKP’s religious base from the principles of democratic liberalization, which were promoted as a means of advancing a more tolerant approach to religion in the public sphere. The wider implications for the regional outlook are similarly discouraging, all the more so since Turkey has increasingly assumed a critical mediator’s role in several sectarian conflicts. Unfortunately, neither the EU nor the U.S. has very much leverage on Ankara right now, so there’s little standing in the way of the generals should they decide to act.