1840) Turkey - The Year 2026 - Revisited

The Year 2026…

Judging from retrospective and present-day scenes of “Turkish affairs,” these will possibly be headlines from the Istanbul press in the year 2026: . .

* Prime Minister Turgut Tayyip Erbakan, whose Justice, Welfare, Development and Felicity Party (ARKSP) has risen to power from the now-defunct AKP, said it was a grave injustice that the Constitutional Court ruled, once again, that the ban on the Islamic headscarf in public premises, including universities, should be maintained. Erbakan has protested that the court made its ruling without having consulted with the Holy Council of Imams.

· EU-member Cyprus threatened to block Turkey's accession talks unless Ankara fully withdrew the 30,000 or so troops it keeps on the northern third of the still-divided island. Turkey has ruled out a troop withdrawal after the failure in simultaneous referenda of a fifth U.N.-brokered plan that aimed to reunite the ethnically divided island.

* A recent public opinion poll has revealed that 78 percent of Turks approve of corruption – as long as the corruption suits their interests. Nineteen percent said they were indecisive, while the remaining 3 percent said they opposed all corruption.

* Turkey's Foreign Ministry said that it opposed the ethnic division of Iraq as civil war in the neighboring state depends on the aftermath of the 4th Gulf war.

* Crowds of Turks took to the streets in Istanbul and Ankara demanding broader cultural and political rights for the country's Turkish minority. The demonstrations turned violent after the police arrested 25 protestors for chanting pro-Turkish slogans.

* Human rights organizations have praised the government as the number of writers and journalists in prison dropped to 253 (from 562 two years earlier). A government spokesman said that more reform packages were in the offing -- especially the 121st EU-inspired reform bill that would greatly extend civil liberties.

* Four more Cabinet ministers, in addition to six last month, were satellite-videoed while taking bribes from private companies. They defended that these bribes were standard practice for a government with scores of spectacular achievements. Prime Minister Erbakan said that efforts to blacken bribery as if it was unethical were part of a plot by anti-Islamic forces. He cited a public opinion poll that showed the Turks widely approved of corruption. “We have always behaved and will behave in line with our great nation's preferences,” he told thousands of party fans who applauded loudly.

* Former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son, leader of the New Justice and Development Party (YAKP), has challenged the government, accusing it of failing to remove the headscarf ban. “The prime minister must honor his pre-election promise and remove the ban at once,” he told a news conference. “The only way out is to go for early polls.”

* As Trinidad and Tobago became the 129th country where denial of Armenian genocide has been illegalized, Turkey again strongly denied that the 1915-1921 incidents were genocide. The Foreign Ministry said that it would not allow weapons suppliers from Trinidad and Tobago to bid on Turkish defense contracts.

* As Fenerbahce lost 5-0 against visiting Milan in a European Champions League group match, fans raided the club's headquarters, shouting for the return of their legendary president Aziz Yildirim, who headed the club in the 2000s. Fourteen people were killed in a shoot-out.

* Simultaneous public opinion polls in Turkey and Greece have unveiled that a majority of Turks and Greeks think of each other as friendly nations but blamed their governments for the traditional rivalry over the Aegean that, most recently, caused consecutive dogfights between warplanes, killing six pilots from each side. Although the Turkish and Greek armed forces have agreed to suspend military exercises and launch a fresh hotline for broader consultations, Ankara and Athens recently announced plans to buy a combined $85 billion worth of weapons systems, including new aircraft carriers, land-to-land missiles, main battle tanks and scores of attack helicopters.

* Separately, Greece and Turkey came to the brink of war once again as both countries claimed jurisdiction over a dolphin that was swimming in the Aegean Sea 12 miles off the Greek coast.

* Turkey's defense procurement authorities have announced that their ambitious plan to design and build an indigenous Turkish battle tank, originally launched in 2005, was approaching its critical development phase. One problem, they said, was that the prototype tank model was derailed during field tests. They also said they would soon finalize the attack helicopter program that had been initiated in the mid 1990s.

* Turkey strongly protested Benin for the African state's decision to impose a visa requirement on Turkish citizens. The Benin government said it was frustrated by an influx of illegal Turkish workers.

* Three more writers have been indicted for insulting “Kurdishness” under the new penal code.

* Turkey said it volunteered to mediate between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program. Washington has threatened to strike if Tehran did not stop its uranium enrichment efforts. China advised diplomatic avenues as a solution to the dispute that dates back to the 2000s. Meanwhile, Libya's leader, Colonel Mohammed Qadhafi, a staunch U.S. ally, has said that the Libyan military would join the U.S.-led coalition forces if they attacked Iran.

* The PKK has ended its two-year cease-fire, citing the granting of too generous political rights for Turkey's Turks. Its former leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who is still in prison, has warned of renewed violence if Ankara went ahead with granting more Turkish rights.

* Brussels has warned Ankara over a dispute concerning the 109th chapter of the accession negotiations. The chapter, exclusively devised for Turkey's entry talks, involves household kitchen standards and per capita cholesterol consumption. Meanwhile, Ankara has protested Brussels over its swift admission of 21 new member states, including Armenia and Kazakhstan.

* Note: Thanks, also, to Baran Kinali for the ‘technical support' for this article.

This is a reprint of a June 2006 article. It’s bizarre: the prophecy in this column 412 days ago looks even more accurate today.

The article “The Year 2026” appeared in this column June 15, 2006, or a little over a year ago. Since then, Turkey has seen: A new military chief in office; increased tensions between conservatives/Islamists/liberals and secularists/nationalists/etatists; a fresh wave of Kurdish terrorism; a presidential election that failed; and early elections that more than sealed the AKP's power. Interestingly, the article's “prophecy” looks even more accurate in August 2007 than it did in June 2006 (thanks for reminding, Dr. Hanson). The election results only maximize the probability of its predicted outcome. So below is a reprint of the article that was published in the TDN 412 days ago.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


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