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Archive for February 19, 2011

Turkey. A role model for Egypt?

Turkey is regarded as a model for a regime that will strengthen the democracy, but the differences between the two countries are large. There are two large and important non Arab Muslim majority countries in the Middle East; Turkey and Iran. The possibility that the revolution in Egypt would provide the Muslim Brotherhood increased influence has led to fears in the neighboring countries that it would end up with an extremist Islamic regime just like in Iran.

The Origin

Turkey and Egypt was once a part of the Ottoman Empire, but ever after it collapsed at the time of First World War, the development of the two countries has turned different directions.

The Egyptian constitution states that “Islam is the State religion” and that “The most important basis for the legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).” The Turkish constitution on the other hand states that the country is a secular, non-religious republic, and the basis for the state’s population. The modern day’s Turkey’s founder; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk wanted to create a modern nation. One of the examples is that the traditional headscarf was prohibited in public places and the Arabic alphabet was replaced with the Latin alphabet. The military was tasked by the government in 1961 to protect the Turkish republic’s integrity and secularism as described in the constitution something the army takes very seriously.

Sole ruler

Both under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, Egypt as a modern state has been characterized by sole ruler to a limited extend and haven’t allowed political oppositions. Nasser was a charismatic leader and Mubarak was a leader with not much support but with a determination to rule as long as possible. Despite all the differences, we can speak about Turkey as a model because of its bright developments over the past 10 years.

The road to democratization

After being a candidate in the EU in 1999, the requirement to fulfil the Copenhagen criteria for membership weakened the military’s role in Turkey. The National Security Council, where national security policy issues are discussed, have also been reformed and now consists of more civilian members than before when there was an emphasis on military officers. An attempted military intervention was still made as in 2007 it was revealed that there existed a right-wing military network that was planning a coup.

Since March 2003, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been in power. It is a moderate Islamist party, such as; that wishes to go in for a Turkish EU membership. This kind of moderate form of Islamic rule won’t happen over night in Egypt and if it would happen, then it does need a better functioning multi party system.

Statistic numbers

A survey conducted by the polling institute Pew Research Center before the protest wave began, shows clear differences between Egypt and Turkey. 72% of Turks see democracy as the absolute best form of government. 50% Egyptians do the same. 85% of Egyptians believe it is positive that Islam has an influence in politics and the number in Turkey is only 38%. When it comes to Islamic extremism, 61% of the Egyptians are strongly or partly concerned about it, while in Turkey 40% of Turks feel the same. While 52% of Turks see a conflict between the forces that will modernize the society and the fundamentalists, only 31% of Egyptians think the same. These numbers show that the Egyptians do want religion to play a role, but it gets disturbed by the extremists. In Turkey, the democratic way of thinking is quite strong, and soon 90 years of separation between state and Islam seems to have entrenched themselves. Turkey is an important model not only for Egypt but for the whole Middle East as it appears as a mediator whenever the storm hits its neighbours.

This was proven when President Abdullah Gül was awarded with the 2010 Chatham House Prize in London. Abdullah Gül has been a smooth operator and described as “the first proudly observant Muslim to be head of the secular Turkish state that wants to put an end to mutterings in Western capitals about Turkey’s shift to the East.” He was contributed this prize “for his contribution both to international relations and Turkeys development as a vibrant democratic state.”
While Gül will be remembered for his positive achievements, the Arab leaders will be remembered for their dictatorship, corruption and lack of respect for democracy.

Facts:

  • Turkey;

  • Governance: Republic.
  • Population: 77, 8 million.
  • Capital: Ankara.
  • Important export: Electronics, textile, agriculture products.
  • Economical growth: 4,7 %.
  • Living: Number 83 on UN’s list over 182 countries.
  • Corruption: Number 56 on Transparency s list over 180 countries, where 1 is least corrupt.
  • Surface area: 783.562 sqkms.
  • Egypt

  • Governance: Republic.
  • Population: 80 million.
  • Capital: Cairo.
  • Important export: Oil, cotton, metal products.
  • Economical growth: 4, 6 %.
  • Living: Number 101 on UN’s list over 182 countries.
  • Corruption: Number 98 on Transparency s list over 180 countries, where 1 is least corrupt.
  • Surface: 1 million sqkms.

Crisis of Democracy – Libya

The security forces of the two cities Benghazi and Dern has fled according to eyewitnesses on Friday night even though the information is impossible to verify because the countries strict control of media and communication. The rumors are many and twitter is flowing over with reports that the rebels have taken over control of the border with Egypt and that two of Gaddafi’s sons have fled the country. Also the lack of foreign and independent journalists in the country makes it hard to know what is true and what is not. According to a news agency AFP based on various local sources, a total of 84 people have been killed.

Even though people were protesting peacefully, according to HRW, security forces killed 20 people in Benghazi, 23 in Baida, three in Ajdabiya, and three in Derna in a matter of days. In addition, 35 people were killed in Benghazi on Friday, nearly all with live ammunition.

Demonstrators protesting against the government is also said to have killed two policemen in Al-Bayda by first being captured and then hanged. The situation is escalating and it is also said that Gaddafi released many prisoners from prison as they were paid and armed with knives and machetes to attack the protesters. It is a “lynching situation” going on as the police executes most of the demonstrators with bullets to the head as well according to reports from hospitals.

In many places the electricity has been shut down and many internet sites blocked as well.

The regime of Muammar Gaddafi is said to be behind the massacres, according to The Guardian, which reported that it also imposed a news blackout, similar to Iran’s crackdown on journalists in 2009.

The last few days have represented an unprecedented challenge to the 41-year rule of Gaddafi, the New York Times reported, in part inspired by the Egypt revolution.

World News Headlines of February 19

84 Dead In Libya Protests In 3 Days: Human Rights Watch

Disturbing new details are coming out of the Libya protests. Government security forces have killed at least 84 people in three days, Human Rights Watch said in a news release Friday night. Even though people were protesting peacefully, according to HRW, security forces killed 20 people in Benghazi, 23 in Baida, three in Ajdabiya, and three in Derna in a matter of days. In addition, 35 people were killed in Benghazi on Friday, nearly all with live ammunition.

Troops fire on demonstrators in Bahrain

GOVERNMENT forces using helicopters and concussion grenades opened fire on mourners marching near Pearl Square in the center of Bahrain’s capital overnight and witnesses said demonstrators were crumpling to the ground, according to newspaper reports.

Protesters in Djibouti rally to replace president

JASON STRAZIUSO Associated Press= NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Authorities used batons and tear gas against thousands of protesters in the tiny nation of Djibouti on Friday, the latest in a series of rallies modeled after demonstrations across Africa and the Middle East, activists said. About 6,000 people turned out at the demonstration.

Yemen protesters blasted with grenade, two dead

Anti-regime protesters in the volatile Yemen city of Taez were blasted with a hand grenade on Friday leaving two dead and dozens hurt, as violent clashes also erupted in Sanaa, witnesses said. The grenade attack came as hundreds of protesters took to central Taez after the weekly Muslim prayers to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ouster.

Ugandans vote amid reports of ballot-rigging

JODY CLARKE in Kampala UGANDANS WENT to the polls yesterday in parliamentary and presidential elections expected to extend President Yoweri Museveni’s 25 years in power, but which were marred by allegations of bribery and vote rigging. Voting was largely peaceful across the country’s 24,000 polling stations but a Ugandan journalist was shot in the eastern district of Budadiri after soldiers opened fire at an opposition politician.

Important Events on February 19

February 19

The  Soviet/Russian space station Mir

  • 1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina exploded in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.
  • 1884 – More than sixty tornadoes struck across the Southern United States, believed to be among the largest and most widespread tornado outbreaks in American history.
  • 1910 – The football stadium Old Trafford in Greater Manchester, England, hosted its first match between Manchester United and Liverpool.
  • 1942 – World War II: In the largest attacks mounted by a foreign power against Australia, more than 240 bombers and fighters of the Imperial Japanese Navy bombed Darwin, Northern Territory.
  • 1986 – The first module of the Soviet space station Mir (pictured) was launched, establishing the first long-term research station in space.

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