Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ulterior Motives?

I was talking with someone yesterday who shrugged that the recent incursion into northern Iraq is motivated by the desire of AKP to direct public attention away from the türban and curry support with those who are unhappy with recent government moves. While no one can be sure if such a calculus was performed by AKP and despite the fact that I have doubts insomuch as an Iraqi incursion will do little to turn attention away from what will be a long and difficult battle ahead, it is indeed a possibility. The Turkish invasion certainly does rally the nation and in many ways distracts AKP detractors who would otherwise be launching front page stories against the recent türban legislation. Such claims were paid heed by the Washington Post today in a piece the paper ran exploring just this accusation.
Government leaders, once reluctant to allow the military to go after Kurdish rebels in Iraq, canceled state trips this week to attend funerals of soldiers killed in the operation. Meanwhile, two secular political parties asked the country's constitutional court Wednesday to restore the head scarf ban.

On the front pages and in opinion columns of Turkish newspapers this week, the two battles were linked.

A cartoon in the national daily Milliyet depicted Gul rallying ground troops rushing into northern Iraq. "Onward!" he shouts, thrusting an arm into the air. Another panel of the cartoon showed the president rallying legions of female Islamic activists in head scarves to storm Turkey's universities. "Onward!" he shouts again.
It is impossible to assess such claims and important to realize that the claims themselves are politically-motivated. Turkish foreign policy is murky business and the invasion could be read as strengthening or weakening AKP. I my opinion, the effect of the invasion will be a net negative insomuch as the incursion will weaken already waning Kurdish support for AKP. See my Feb. 23 post as to a similar insinuation made by The Independent.

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