News / Middle East

Author Touts Turkish Hero's Model for Arab Spring Nations

People hold national flags with posters of the founder of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk as they visit his mausoleum in Ankara, Turkey, February 5, 2012.
People hold national flags with posters of the founder of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk as they visit his mausoleum in Ankara, Turkey, February 5, 2012.
Greg Flakus

In the wake of the Arab Spring, some see Turkey's secular democratic government as a possible model for emerging governments. A former U.S. military officer turned author is touting the course set by Turkey's national hero Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s, even as Turkey's ruling Islam-oriented party challenges some his legacy. 

There is probably no bigger fan in the United States of Kemal Ataturk than Austin Bay, a former colonel in the U.S. Army, who wrote a recent biography of the great Turkish leader. Book titled Ataturk, Lessons in Leadership from the Greatest General of the Ottoman Empire.

“There is no doubt that Turkey is attractive to a number of Muslim countries," he said. "It is socially vibrant, it is culturally alive and [there is] the economic growth that Turkey has experienced.”

Bay says Turkey owes much of its success to a secular democratic government that Ataturk promoted when he came to power after the country's defeat in World War I.  

“Secular democracy is Turkey's most important, strongest foreign policy asset and I also think it is its greatest domestic strength,” he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is from the Muslim-inspired Justice and Development Party, is sometimes seen as undermining some of Ataturk's secularist ideals at home.

But Bay says Erdogan uses Turkey's secular democracy as a model when he visits Arab Spring countries.  

“When he is visiting Egypt, Tunisia and Libya in September, he says it is very important that you achieve a secular democracy and he goes right out and says, 'I am not a secular man,' and he is not, 'but I am prime minister of a secular democracy,” said Bay.

But Turkey's model may not be easily exported, says Reva Bhalla, director of Strategic Intelligence for Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis company.

“Turkey wants to present itself as the model in the Islamic world, one that can act as the liaison between The West and many of these countries that are experiencing pretty big transitions, but there is a big gap between theory and practice,” she said.

Bhalla says that while opposition groups that helped overthrow repressive regimes do seek international support, they are are also wary of outside domination.

“Many of these opposition groups do not like the idea of being dictated by a bigger power like Turkey and are more interested in their national interests,” added Bhalla.

But there are other ways these nations can follow Turkey's example and Austin Bay says Ataturk's emphasis on achieving prosperity through education is one of them.

“He gives a speech in 1923 about the necessity of prosperity and he says 'this is something we are going to bring to Turkey, we are going to create it ourselves,'”

Bay says much of the force behind Turkey's current above-seven-percent growth rate can be attributed to a large well-educated youthful population.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid