Political Leadership

What is AKP its roots and origins? Modern Islam, for Arab Muslims, actually originated from 1870s when Sayyid Jamal-ad-Din al-Afghanin, entered Cairo, and established Arab Modern Islam. Whilst for Turks or Ottomans as they were then known, two young exiles, Namik Kemal and Ali Suavi, drafted the first example of a parliamentary and constitution specifically for the Muslim world, Ali Suavi was the first to resist western influence in the Muslim system of governance.

Today’s Conservative ruling AKP, sees themselves as the heir apparent to Kemal/ Suavi model of power, whilst Muslim Egypt under the current Muslim brotherhood of President Morsi, is still linked to more Arab fundamentalist leanings, such as Sayyid Qutb,

Turkey in Modern times is the original Secular state of the Muslim world, Turkey has been a regional role model for countries since end of 1940`s global conflicts. Turkey’s difference with Arab Modern Islamic countries was that Islam within Turkey was basically a system of brotherhoods or Tarikats, whereas in Arabic countries it was often a political instrument used as a suppression instrument.

The Secularism was established into the New republic`s psyche by General Mustafa Kemal , later known as ATATURK, or Father of the Turks. Following the liberation of foreign occupation the Turkish republic was established in 1923 by the Lausanne Treaty.

Following a period of Kemalist reforms and growth in republic sentiment, thru until 1970`s when the so called periphery , non republicans, founded their first political party , whilst restricted by Republican laws not allowed to even declare themselves as an islamist party, the MNP was formed (Milli Nizam Partisi) the founder Necmettin Erbakan, Turkeys leading moderniser for Turkish Islamic conservative`s,

Nacmettin Erbakan 1926/2011 was forced to open various Political parties thru until 2001 which included Refah partisi, / welfare party, The virtue party/ fazilet & Happiness party/ Saadet.

During this period of Conservative Modern islamic resurgence, Nacmettin Erbakan was the architect of the National outlook, or Milli Gorus 1969,

During the large scale emigrations of 1970s to Germany and Europe,the political following gained international traction and was a formidable resource for the growth of Modernism.

Whilst many of the emigrants were agricultural and from the less developed areas of Turkey, they entered their new countries with traditional values and a vision national outlook, free from republican interference.

During the 1970`s Turkish Political Islam found a growing base of small and mid size business owners, along with many of the displaced agricultural workers from the Anatolian south.

The 1979 Iranian revolution, set back much progress within Turkey, as a member of NATO, bordering Russia , Turkey was subject to American policy of Control against Islamist movements,

Such a policy emboldened the Turkish military coup of 1980, for the next half a decade the modernisers were often side lined in their demands, causing a decade of Consolidation of political Islamism, During this consolidation time Turkey had developed two political Islamic actors,

The Islamist political parties along with radical groups, or the extremist version of political Islam

The second actors are Sufi organizations or brotherhoods which are linked to political parties.

The most outstanding Islamic party in Turkey is AKP, or Adalet ve Kalkinma partisi Known as Justice and development Party since 2002.

The most outstanding Brotherhood in Turkey and globally is the Gulen Movement, it was the 1980 military coup that caused the Gulen movements founder to exile himself in Pennsylvania USA.

The most outstanding Radical group in Turkey is Islamic front of Raiders of the great orient which are salafists, whose stated aim is to destroy the secular nature of Turkish state.

The neo brotherhoods which were driven underground in 1970/ 1990s often managed to compete with the Turkish state version of Islam, however the brotherhoods form a large part of the population, therefore are entwined with the main Islamist parties .

Their strength in cohesion under one brotherhood or another, has dictated their relations with the secularist state. Often these brotherhoods are represented by Islamist parties.

The most influential brotherhood in todays Turkey is the Naksibendiya

Many of Todays Neo Brotherhoods, have roots in the older Sufi Brotherhoods from 13 to 15th century.

These older Brotherhoods include

  1. Bektasi order,
  2. Alevi Order,
  3. Mevlevi Order,
  4. Naksibendiya Order,
  5. Tariqa Halveti Jerrahi
  6. Quadiri Rifai Order.

The Gulen Movement named after Fethullah Gulen, has its roots in Nurcu movement ,

Said Nursi, a Kurdish scholar whos stated thoughts were for cultivating Faith without opposing modernism, nursi defends both secular and religious education , he goes on to state faith precedes islam, thus dialogue with all religions. It is from these roots that Gulen interprets Nursi writings and has established the Gulen Movement.

Gulen members believe they are the heirs to Sufi heritage, which has created the ability for the movement to put forward new modern elements for Islam such as voicing against fundamentalism, supporting women’s rights, supporting Turkish National sentiment.

Gulen holds the belief that Arabs do not understand Islam correctly and this is where Turkish Islam differs from Arab Islam.

Gulen brotherhood members were prosecuted during 1997/2001 along with thousands of ministerial public servants who were dismissed for their sympathies towards Islam, Mosques were monitored, and the Quran courses were taken under ministry of education , all this in an attempt to enforce the 1997 coup, and strip the brotherhoods of any economic strength, many media source were affected and lost during this period.

Erbakans virtue party was eventually dissolved in 2002 by constitutional court on grounds of Fundamentalism, at this point some of the party faithful formed the AKP and presented themselves as a secularist party, just a year in, the AKP had a massive victory in General elections lead by Recep Tayip Erdogan.

Prime minister Erdogan, designed a new image for his party different from that of his past experience.

AKP was established to be , based on

  1. Dialogue,
  2. Modernity,
  3. Open to EU membership,
  4. Liberal in focus,
  5. and has developed with some gulenist economic influences.

Whilst the early membership was religious , from agricultural background less well educated, and poorer then the secularist voters, however the network of sufi terakats, has also lead to use of personal contacts, ( old boy network if you will). That has added an element of personalism to AKP, which often causes ambiguity to the western mind set, People are appointed due to their social connections not abilities.

AKP has completed three phases of its development

Phase one was from start up 2002 saw the hard core members from virtue party , which were to become AKP reformers along with a centre right politicians who were from previous administrations parties coupled with Technocrats who were not the traditional conservatives, but were from the opposite side of the spectrum, even a few nationalists. This was Prime ministers strength in those early days purporting to be a party of change, their early direction was similar to the CDU of Germany, honesty, ethical conduct and imagery compatible to the nationalist sentiment, with morality at the fore.

Phase two 2003/2009 using the nuance of European union support, along with the ideological compromises, AKP was able to overcome many of the push backs from the Secularist state institutions, supported by Brussels, AKP survived the 2009 challenge to close the party.

The period saw a flurry of EU harmonisation policies, the AKP became known as party of Economic liberalism, and social conservatives,

Phase Three 2010 /Present encouraged by a greater majority then previous election results the AKP finally gained confidence to outwardly show its Islamism , which according to Local law was illegal.