Monday, April 05, 2010

Turkish Islamist Regime Writes New Constitution To Guarantee Its Future Rule

Barry Rubin

Given the whitewash generally and generously applied to Turkey's Islamist-oriented regime internationally, there is little awareness of one of that government's (now closer to Iran and Syria than to the United States) most dangerous projects: the rewriting of Turkey's constitution. The drafting of that document is in the hands of party loyalists. Nor does it deal with Turkey's real political problems: the fact that leaders of political parties are virtual dictators; the 10 percent minimum which allowed the regime when it first "won" the elections to get almost two-thirds of the seats with only around 31 percent of the votes.

Instead, there are cute pseudo-democratic gimmicks that sound good but are designed to entrench the current government in power forever.

For example, the president can appoint two people who merely have a BA degree to the Constitutional Court. One can imagine how they would vote. It also takes the right to ban political parties away from the high court and gives it to parliament, meaning the government could ban opposing parties whenever it felt like it.

According to former president Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the prime minister now controls parliament and is adding the judiciary to that, thus having total control over the branches of government. With the army intimidated by threats, arrests, and slander, there is nothing left to limit the regime's power.

Perhaps public criticism--in those parts of the media the government does not yet control or intimidate--could make the regime back down but it could jam through a constitution designed to end Turkey's status as a democratic state.

By taming the army, subordinating the courts, taking over or intimidating the media, packing the bureaucracy with its own supporters, and using leverage over the universities, the regime intends to stay in power forever.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood

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