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Turkey: Islamism prevails over Ataturk

In yet another sign of their determination to reverse Ataturk’s efforts at secularization, the government-controlled Turkish police have arrested four dozen of the country’s top military commanders. The Turkish military is atheistic, pro-Israel, and pro-Western, while the current government is the opposite of all these things.

In the past, the Turkish military used to purge the government of leaders who had Islamic leanings with periodic putsches, but its desire to join  the EU and American pressure for democratization have led the army to accede to the current Islamist government. Pushed away by the EU and vying with Iran for influence in Islamic world, Turkey predictably has become more religious.

Once the government succeeds in weakening the Turkish army, the state may well erupt into violence among the numerous religious and ethnic groups. The divide between Turkey’s atheist and religious population is in itself deep enough to cause civil war. It remains to be seen whether Erdogan will succeed in installing his own commanders in the army. So far, all military graduates are staunchly secular.

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