Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some follow-up on recent Turkish history

Over at the serious but not very seriously named blog, The Duck of Minerva, a short discussion by an expert, Peter Henne (the right doctoral candidate is usually pretty expert) on recent developments in Turkish and Armenian relations. I feel that my discussion of post-Ataturk Turkey was pretty inadequate in the Islamic Civilization course, so for those of you who are still hanging around, here's a primer. I particularly draw your attention to this:

While there are many factors at work, it is very likely that this is part of a broader shift in Turkish security policy under the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002. The party’s electoral victory prompted concerns about the group’s commitment to democratic norms and the possibility it will institute Islamic law. The concerns proved unfounded, however, with the AKP acting as responsible reformists; ironically, the Turkish military—the guardians of secularism—emerged as the greatest threat to democracy in the country, threatening several times to remove the AKP from power. Yet, while the AKP is not a radical force in the mould of the Taliban, their rise to power did change Turkey through the redefinition of Turkish identity and the incorporation of religious influences.

The Turkish political system began to open up in the 1990s, and increasing popular pressure on the state’s actions gradually broke the military’s exclusive hold on security policy. This also undermined the military’s monopoly over what security means, exposing this to popular contestation as well. The AKP’s rise was part of this, advancing a conception of Turkish security that questioned the state’s US ties and was more concerned with global Muslim opinion than its predecessors’. This was not a revolutionary rejection of the West, though, as Turkey continues to view itself as European and the AKP actually criticized the secular parties for not pushing hard enough on gaining accession to the European Union.

And this:

Yet, this has also involved a break with Turkey’s secular nationalist legacy, which could prove positive. While the AKP has advocated an increased role for Islam in Turkish society, it has simultaneously deemphasized the significance of ethnic divisions and attacked ethnic Turkic chauvinism. The party launched major outreach campaigns to the Kurdish population—although Kurdish parties won out over the AKP in 2009 local elections—and has proved more willing to compromise on the Armenian issue, as its identity is not tied as tightly to the founding myths of Turkish nationalism (which include downplaying crimes against the Armenians). Interestingly, the digging up of the Kurdish graves was enabled through the arrest of several security officials who were involved in actions against the Kurds; they were arrested on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the AKP in early 2009.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 26, 2008

Moon Rays over Byurakan Observatory, near Yerevan, Armenia

From Astronomy Picture of the Day. As usual, click the image for a bigger, more beautiful version.

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Holy Lance Church in Armenia

Many people know that the discovery of the Holy Lance in Antioch saved the First Crusade. Today English Russia posted several pictures of an alternate site for the Holy Lance, at a church in Armenia. I've also heard the Lance was at Constantinople (which led some churchmen at Antioch during the crusade to doubt the reality of the just-discovered one).

This rather odd art looks strangely familiar to me. What am I thinking of? Readers?

Labels: , , , , ,