Is Turkey the Right Model for the Arab Middle East?


Last week’s Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt has led to much discussion and debate about the shape and form of potential Islamist-led governments in the Arab Middle East.

The Egyptian military junta managed to conduct a transitional process after toppling Mubarak, through which it remained in control of the country’s security affairs, as well as holding the veto card in decisions related to defence. The political process and situation in Egypt so far resembles the system in neighbouring Turkey. The AKP took power in 2002, and it started gradually to undermine the stronghold of the Istanbul-based Turkish elite and the military that had held power since the collapse of the Caliphate.

The Turkish model remains the least alarming one when compared the theocracy in Iran and military dictatorship in Pakistan. Further, according to the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, the Turkish system is extremely popular among Arabs. Some 66 percent believe that Turkey could become a successful model for the new political systems. However, critics of the Turkish model fear that it may follow the Russian system which ignores the rights of the minorities (Kurds, Armenians and Christians).

In order for the Muslim Brotherhood to gain international legitimacy, it has to take the same path as the Christians Democrats in Europe after the 1950s – where religion is merely the roots of the movement, and pro-business polices top its agenda domestically and regionally.


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