Turkey plays the Pakistan double game

Eli Lake:
There isn't much that Turkey's president can do these days to further debase his reputation in the West. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has crushed peaceful protests at home and abroad, closed newspapers, threatened American soldiers, and collectively scapegoated Kurds. But over the weekend, Erdogan managed to go even lower.

At a rally at Kahramanmaras, the Turkish leader brought a trembling 6-year-old girl on stage dressed in military garb and told her she would be honored if she died as a martyr. He sounded like a terrorist. We expect this kind of child abuse from the fanatics in Hamas or Hezbollah. Erdogan though is the leader of an important NATO ally.

Turkey is beginning to resemble Pakistan, a perpetually failing state whose military leadership has tolerated and advanced a vision of political Islam deeply hostile to U.S. and Western interests.

To be sure, Turkey is not quite there yet. There is still a majority of Turks who want to eventually join the European Union. The Turkish economy is stronger than Pakistan's, and its banks are more trusted. And unlike in Pakistan, the driving force to further Islamize society has come from Erdogan, an elected leader, not the military. Indeed, the Turkish military has (until some of Erdogan's recent reforms) historically been a force that undermined the elected leadership through coups to preserve the secular tradition of modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk.

That said, Erdogan is following the Pakistani model in disturbing ways, according to Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to Washington. Haqqani, a former journalist, is in a unique position to evaluate this trend because he wrote the best history of how the Pakistani military embraced Islamic fundamentalism.

In an interview Haqqani said Erdogan's approach was reminiscent of Pakistan's military dictator between 1978 and 1988, Zia ul-Haq. Like Zia, Erdogan has instituted legal and societal reforms to further Islamize society. In January, for example, he instituted a new plan to pour government money into Islamic schools.

"Erdogan has taken the Pakistani formula of mixing hard-line nationalism with religiosity," Haqqani said. "Zia imposed Islamic laws by decree, amended the constitution, marginalized secular scholars and leaders, and created institutions for Islamization that have outlasted him. Erdogan is trying to do the same in Turkey."
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There is more.

Erdogan is an Islamist before he is a NATO ally.  In fact, he has been a faithless ally for years.  He brings little of value to the alliance and is undependable.  I would kick Turkey out of the alliance as long as it has its current leadership.

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