Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power [September 21, 2010]   [open pdf - 351KB]

"The main theme of the report is that the ongoing struggle for power in Turkey will determine the country's identity, and that will have consequences for U.S. policymakers. Turkey's secular identity has long been considered unique among majority Muslim states, as secularism was a founding principle of the modern Turkish Republic as well as the principle that has produced the most domestic political tension. The AKP [Justice and Development Party], formed in 2001, has Islamist roots but claims to be conservative and democratic. Its emergence and acquisition of power have exacerbated concerns, especially in secularist circles, about whether AKP is intent on altering Turkey's identity. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP have governed in an increasingly confident manner since a court refused to ban the party for being 'a focal point of anti-secular activities' in 2008. Already in control of the executive and legislature, they have gained influence over bastions of secularism in the judiciary and military. These developments may enable the AKP to implement a domestic agenda that is more consistent with its core identity. However, the AKP has failed to deal comprehensively with a significant domestic group's struggle for recognition of its own identity--the Kurds in a majority Turkish state. The government initiated a 'Kurdish opening,' but managed it poorly, produced unfulfilled expectations, and may have contributed to an escalation in terrorism. [...] For in-depth information on the period prior to this report, see CRS Report RL34646, 'Turkey: Update on Crisis of Identity and Power', by Carol Migdalovitz."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41368
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