Monday, July 23, 2007

Islamists Surge in Turkish Election

Turkey has provided yet another devastating blow to President Bush's ridiculous idea that democracy will somehow "cure" the Islamic world and put an end to Islamic terrorism. The primary Islamist political party has emerged from Turkey's parliamentary elections with a stunning (by Turkey's parliamentary system) 47% of the vote.

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to continue reforms and efforts to join the European Union, following his party's election victory.

Mr Erdogan also said his Islamist-rooted AK Party would seek national unity and respect Turkey's secular constitution.

Unofficial results gave the AK Party about 47% of the vote, prompting wild street celebrations by supporters.

Opponents have warned that an AKP win could undermine Turkey's secularism.

It behoves Mr. Erdogan to make statements supporting Turkish secularism since the Turkish military, which keeps Turkey secular by threat of force - and, occasionally, the use of force - issued thinly veiled warnings to Erdogan's government over the past few months. Nevertheless, the AKP makes no secrets about where its sympathies lie. If the threat of military intervention were to decline, the AKP would doubtless pursue a far more radical agenda.

In the capital Ankara, Mr Erdogan told jubilant supporters that the AKP victory was a triumph for democracy.

He promised to "press ahead with reforms and the economic development that we have been following so far".

"We will continue to work with determination to achieve our European Union goal," he said.

While the AKP will surely not transform Turkey into a clone of Iran, the country's political future seems likely to be increasingly less secular and increasingly more Islamist, which means, increasingly hostile toward the West. As Islamist influence grows throughout Turkish society it will eventually infiltrate the military, withering the threat of military intervention and further accelerating Turkey's slide toward Islamism.

The slow loss of Turkey as a solid American ally puts additional strain on the US position in the Middle East. The use of Turkish bases and airspace is no longer assured. This is another reward of the invasion of Iraq, a policy disaster whose fallout will continue to undermine US standing in the region for years.

But for Europeans, the AKP's victory should be the final nail in any potential EU membership for Turkey. Far too many Islamist-leaning Turks are already inside the EU. Turkish EU membership would simply open the floodgates bringing millions of Islamist-leaning Muslims directly into the heart of Europe.


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