CSP: Turkey's new leaders plot overthrow of secular system

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

WASHINGTON Allies of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have accused Turkey of moving toward Islamic fundamentalism.

Analysts at a Washington, D.C. think tank said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan plans to overthrow Turkey's secular regime. They said Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was pursuing a secret agenda for an Islamic takeover.

"The objective for Erdogan and the AKP is to destroy the secular republic and replace it with an Islamist order," said Alex Alexiev, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy.

The center has been regarded as close to the Defense Department, particularly Rumsfeld. Several members of the center are former Pentagon officials angered by Turkey's refusal to help the United States establish a northern military front against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

In a conference at the Hudson Institute on June 23, Alexiev said the Erdogan government has sought to weaken the military, regarded as the last secular bastion in Turkey. He said Erdogan was using the European Union accession process as a means to eliminate military opposition to fundamentalism.

"Turkey's military is a special type of institution, and not an average military in Western democracies," Alexiev said. "Because of the country's history and traditions, the military sees itself as the guarantor of secular order. So they are seen as the main obstacle to an Islamist takeover."

Frank Gaffney, director of the center, said Erdogan's government has moved Turkey's foreign policy away from the West and toward the Middle East. Gaffney said Turkey was becoming a totalitarian state.

"Many in Europe and some in the United States believe that political Islam is exhibiting its most benign characteristics in Turkey and that it should be supported," Gaffney said. "But evidence shows the Erdogan movement is not benign but creeping Islamofascism."

Copyright 2006 East West Services, Inc.

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