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Inshallah, Cairo will be more like Ankara than Tehran

A Power & Policy Guest View

By Joshua W. Walker

As a longtime ally of the West and new partner of Iran and Syria, Turkey has been seeking the role of mediator and model in every available arena, including Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia. As a G-20 founding member, holder of a seat on the UN Security Council, European Union aspirant, and head of the Organization of Islamic Conference, Ankara has transformed itself into an international actor, capable of bringing considerable clout and influence to its regions. Often lost in the debates about Turkey and its potential as a model is the fact that Ankara did not transform itself overnight from a defeated post-Ottoman state led by Ataturk’s military to a flourishing market-democracy led by a conservative Muslim party. It has been almost a century in the making.

Given the recent events in Egypt, the role of the Turkish military and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Prime Minister Erdoğan has garnered many comparisons to the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt and Turkey’s official aspirations—modernity and secularism—are remarkably undefined, though officially upheld and enforced by the military institutions as pillars of the grand idea of these nations themselves.  Apart from generic rhetoric, there has been little refined thinking by most analysts about the substance of these terms or about the relationship between society and the political elite in Egypt for the last thirty years given the lack of civilian empowerment, while Turkey has been struggling with civil-military tensions since the arrival of the AKP.
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Religious actors can be democratizers

With news of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepping down, the key question becomes “who will govern Egypt?” Although Mubarak has handed power over to the military, there is still the possibility that other actors, including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), could … Continue reading >

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Five (Early) Lessons from the Egyptian Revolution

Today’s dramatic events in Cairo and the departure of Hosni Mubarak from power may bring to a close the first stage in what is nothing short of a revolution in Egypt’s politics and society.

What have we learned from these extraordinary last eighteen days?  I can think of five immediate lessons worth thinking about.

First, People Power achieved this victory. For those of us who have lived in Egypt, what was always most impressive about that fascinating but impoverished country was the energy, optimism and resourcefulness of a people who had been dominated by royal and military rulers for the last century.   Their idealism, passion and steadfastness during the last eighteen days overcame all of the power, privilege and cynicism of the government and overwhelmed it in the end.  The role of Facebook, Twitter, Al Jazeera and CNN in magnifying the voices and faces from Tahrir Square was breathtaking  and surely indicative of a new brand of politics in this still new century.
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