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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid