Turkey and the Arab Spring
On an entirely different topic ...
Reading a recent story on Turkish objections to Syrian repression, it occurs to me that Turkey is in an interesting position with regard to recent events in the Muslim world.
In a very real sense, it did it first. The reforms of Ataturk did not establish a full-blown western European democracy, since they left the military with the undemocratic job of preventing the recreation of a religious state. But they did create something closer to a stable, modern, democratic state than any then contemporary Muslim society that I know of. And the project, although fraying a bit at the edges of late, has been remarkably stable over time.
Measured by population, Turkey is only about the fifth largest Muslim country (sixth if you count Nigeria), a little smaller than Egypt, a little larger than Iran. But its per capita income figure is higher than any of the other Muslim countries of comparable size, the only serious competitor being Iran; by that measure at least it is a success.
Which raises the possibility that Turkey, which has for quite a while been trying to fit itself into the western European community with some difficulty, may, if all goes well, find itself the central figure in a new community of at least moderately free and democratic Muslim countries.