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Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations

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Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Carol MigdalovitzBackground and U.S. Relations Jim Zanotti Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs September 21, 2010January 17, 2012 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41368 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Summary Turkey has long been a valued U.S. NATO ally and strategic partner. Successive administrations have viewed it as a secular democracy that could serve as an inspiration or model for other Muslim majority countries. However, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) foreign policy decisions have led some U.S. observers, including Members of Congress, to question its future course. Domestic political developments may be enabling the AKP’s greater assertiveness in international affairs and are, therefore, worthy of closer scrutiny. This report provides that examination via an overview of the current Turkish domestic political scene. The main theme of the report is that the ongoing struggle for power in Turkey will determine the country’s identity, and that will have consequences for U.S. policymakers. Turkey’s secular identity has long been considered unique among majority Muslim states, as secularism was a founding principle of the modern Turkish Republic as well as the principle that has produced the most domestic political tension. The AKP, formed in 2001, has Islamist roots but claims to be conservative and democratic. Its emergence and acquisition of power have exacerbated concerns, especially in secularist circles, about whether AKP is intent on altering Turkey’s identity. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP have governed in an increasingly confident manner since a court refused to ban the party for being “a focal point of anti-secular activities” in 2008. Already in control of the executive and legislature, they have gained influence over bastions of secularism in the judiciary and military. These developments may enable the AKP to implement a domestic agenda that is more consistent with its core identity. However, the AKP has failed to deal comprehensively with a significant domestic group’s struggle for recognition of its own identity—the Kurds in a majority Turkish state. The government initiated a “Kurdish opening,” but managed it poorly, produced unfulfilled expectations, and may have contributed to an escalation in terrorism. The unraveling of a series of alleged coup plots is another arena in which the struggle for power and identity between the AKP and its opponents is being played out. In the first, major alleged conspiracy, called Ergenekon, ultranationalists and secularists are said to have planned to create instability in the country in order to provide a pretext for the military to intervene and overthrow the government. Believers in the conspiracies, who include the AKP and its supporters, cite the revelations as evidence of Turkey’s progress as a democracy because what is called the “deep state,” or elite who have controlled the political system for 50 years, is finally being confronted. Skeptics charge that the AKP is using a fictitious affair to intimidate and weaken opponents in the military, judiciary, media, and elsewhere who are ardent secularists, and that the authorities’ handling of suspects fails to meet international legal standards, thereby marring Turkey’s democratic advance. They also suggest that the enigmatic and powerful Fethullah Gulen Movement, a religious group, may be driving the investigations and is a new “deep state.” The AKP has appeared increasingly confident. Although its diminished plurality of votes in the 2009 municipal elections provided signs that it can be challenged, its victory in the September 2010 referendum on constitutional reforms produced doubts about whether AKP’s ambitions to alter Turkey’s identity and policies can be constrained. Nonetheless, the vote indicates that that the AKP continues to function within the parameters of a democratic political system, albeit flawed, that allows these developments. For in-depth information on the period prior to this report, see CRS Report RL34646, Turkey: Update on Crisis of Identity and Power, by Carol Migdalovitz. Congressional Research Service Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Contents Overview ....................................................................................................................................1 Economic Context.......................................................................................................................2 Demographic Snapshot ...............................................................................................................2 Historical Context .......................................................................................................................3 Political Situation........................................................................................................................4 The Lawsuit to Ban the AKP .................................................................................................4 Aftermath .............................................................................................................................5 Ergenekon and Other Alleged Plots .......................................................................................6 Assessment ...........................................................................................................................8 2009 Municipal Elections......................................................................................................9 Cabinet Changes ................................................................................................................. 10 Constitutional Reforms ....................................................................................................... 10 Role of the Military................................................................................................................... 13 Kurdish Issue ............................................................................................................................ 15 Press Freedom........................................................................................................................... 19 Fethullah Gulen Movement ....................................................................................................... 21 Future Political Possibilities ...................................................................................................... 23 Overall Assessment ................................................................................................................... 25 U.S. Policy................................................................................................................................ 26 Tables Table 1. Results of 2009 Municipal Elections ..............................................................................9 Table 2. Basic Facts .................................................................................................................. 30 Contacts Author Contact Information ...................................................................................................... 30 Congressional Research Service Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Overview Turkey has become increasingly assertive on the international stage. Members of Congress and other U.S. officials require an understanding of the current domestic political situation that, combined with a exceptionally robust economy, has enabled the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to act so confidently in order to develop appropriate policies. As a contribution toward that goal, this report provides an overview of the Turkish domestic political scene. It does not address specific foreign policy issues, which will be the subject of a separate report. Turkey’s domestic politics are turbulent largely due to an ongoing struggle for power that participants perceive as a struggle for the country’s identity. Turkey’s secular identity has long been considered unique among majority Muslim states, as secularism has been one of the “fundamental and unchanging principles” guiding the Turkish Republic since its founding in 1923. It also has been the principle that has led to considerable domestic political tension. Over the years, political parties have emerged to challenge strict secularism and to seek to restore the country’s Islamic identity to centrality. Each time, these parties have been banned from politics. The AKP, formed in 2001, has Islamist roots but claims a conservative democratic place along the political spectrum. The AKP won the 2002 national elections by a wide margin and the 2007 elections by a wider one, but its victories did not end secular-religious friction. In 2007, the public prosecutor initiated a lawsuit to ban the AKP for being a “focal point of antisecular activities,”1 but the party survived. The authorities have since arrested many prominent secularists/ultranationalists and active and retired military officers for alleged plots intended to provoke the military to overthrow the government. The government initiated what became a contentious “Kurdish opening” to address the causes of a decades-long insurgency/terrorism. It also proposed constitutional reforms, several of which critics believe could alter Turkey’s secularreligious balance and the balance among the branches of government. These dramas served to highlight a polarized political climate and a still evolving contest over power and identity. Each side has champions and opponents who disseminate conflicting interpretations of events. In some instances, the schism is blurred, as some secularists argue AKP’s case in the name of democracy, while some AKP supporters question their leaders’ actions. Nonetheless, the national rift is real. The United States is concerned about Turkey’s domestic political stability because Washington views it as a valued strategic partner and NATO ally and must deal with any government in power there. The George W. Bush Administration regarded Turkey favorably as one of the few predominantly Muslim democratic countries and an inspiration for other Muslims in the context of the war against radical Islamist terrorism. President Obama visited Turkey and congratulated Prime Minister Erdogan for his victory in the September 2010 constitutional referendum, but his Administration generally has been reluctant to wade into Turkey’s domestic political maelstrom. Nonetheless, some in the Turkish secularist political opposition interpreted the Administration’s repeated outreach to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as unquestioning support. While that interpretation probably is exaggerated, there are indications that the Administration may be reassessing relations in light of some AKP foreign policy positions that have challenged traditional U.S. expectations. The party’s ability to adopt those policies may derive, at least partly, from its determined consolidation of its domestic strength. 1 Turkish law refers to “ban,” which also is commonly termed “closure.” In the West, some would use the word “dissolution.” Congressional Research Service 1 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Economic Context While this report focuses on politics, the economy provides a critical context. Turkey has the world’s 17th-largest economy and is a member of the G-20 group of major economies. The AKP government’s predecessor had stabilized the financial system in the aftermath of a severe crisis in 2000-2001, which prompted major reforms with the help of a massive infusion of funds from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Those reforms included floating the currency, strengthening the banking system, and creating an independent central bank. The AKP has retained the policies then instituted and privatized some state economic enterprises (SEEs), although the state sector still is large. It has been credited with consecutive years of growth between 2002 and 2008, averaging 4% a year, during which time the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita doubled. Turkey rapidly overcame a setback due to the global economic downturn in 2009, which affected exports and employment. The economy registered a striking 11.7% growth rate in the first quarter of 2010 and 10.3% growth rate in the second quarter, with a forecast for the year of over 6% growth. (See Table 2 at the end of the report for a fuller picture of the economy.) During the AKP’s tenure, exports have increased markedly as the government has plumbed new markets in the region and beyond. The growth in trade has especially benefited core AKP constituents in small and mid-sized enterprises, who have shared their growing wealth with donations to the party and to groups that support it. As a result, the party’s finances are believed to be sound and it has easily withstood financial penalties that a predominantly secularist court imposed for being “a focal point of anti-secular activities.” There are limitations to this otherwise positive economic portrait. Analysts view the soaring current account deficits (projected at an estimated 5% of GDP in 2010) as a potential risk to the economy. 2 Moreover, a large unregistered economy makes it difficult for the government to raise revenues. In July 2010, the government postponed plans to adopt a “fiscal rule” to require a budget deficit target of 1% of GDP. The IMF warned that the delay threatens a loss of international “credibility” and that spending is in excess of targets. Prime Minister Erdogan responded that the government had “escaped” from the IMF and claimed that its record of fiscal discipline showed that it did not need the fiscal rule.3 The government’s secure victory in the September 12 constitutional referendum may constrain a propensity for increased spending in the run-up to the 2011 national elections that could worsen the deficit. Demographic Snapshot4 Turkey’s 78 million people are relatively young, with 26.9% of the population 14 years of age or younger. This contrasts markedly with countries in the European Union (EU), which Turkey aspires to join. The comparable figure for Germany is 13.5%; the United Kingdom, 16.5%; France, 18.6%; and Italy, 13.4%. Approximately 99.8% of the population is Muslim; the rest are Christians and Jews. Most Muslims are Sunni, but 10 million to 20 million are Alevi, which appears to be a combination of Sunnism, Shi’ism, and pre-Islamic beliefs. AKP followers are 2 For additional background, see Refik Erzan, “Turkey’s Economic Prospects: As Good as it Gets?,” International Economic Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 29, 1010. 3 “IMF Pushes Turkey for Budget Deficit Cut,” Haberturk, September 8, 2010, Open Source Center (hereafter OSC) Document GMP20100909016009. 4 Figures for all countries from CIA, The World Factbook, various dates. Congressional Research Service 2 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power overwhelmingly Sunni, while Alevis have long been among the strongest supporters of the secular state from which they derive protection from the Sunni majority. The Turkish population also is literate, with 87% of the people, 95.3% of the men and 79.6% of the women, able to read and write. 5 Moreover, the government is making an effort to educate more girls. Theses figures are higher than those of other large Muslim countries. Egypt has a 71.4% total literacy rate, with only 59.4% of its women able to read and write, while Iran, Turkey’s neighbor, has a literacy rate of 77%, with 70.4% of women able to read and write. The Turkish government uses its demographic profile to support a bid for EU membership, arguing that it would bring a young, dynamic population to the aging ranks of Europe. Historical Context Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern Turkish Republic in 1923 out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman sultans had enjoyed both temporal and spiritual power, acting simultaneously as heads of state and as Muslim caliphs. Ataturk decisively severed the link, banishing religion to the private sphere and propounding laicism or secularism as a founding principle of the state. He abolished the caliphate and seriat (Islamic law), replacing it with a European civil code, closed religious schools, banned religious brotherhoods, discouraged women from wearing the veil, and made Sunday instead of Friday the weekly day of rest. These revolutionary changes distinguished Turkey from other Muslim countries. Yet, there has long been doubt about how deeply “Kemalist” changes penetrated society. Major urban centers in western Turkey were considered secularist strongholds, while people residing in the vast Anatolian sub-continent (Asia Minor) remained devout. In 1950, Adnan Menderes of the Democratic Party became the first democratically elected leader of Turkey, and he was more tolerant of religious practices. His campaign called for the restoration of the Arabic call to prayer, which Ataturk had banned. Once in office, Menderes reopened mosques and implied that parliament could reimpose seriat. Menderes was overthrown in a 1960 military coup and he and two of his ministers were subsequently hanged after what many considered a show trial. Civilian governments returned in 1961, but they generally proceeded cautiously with respect to religious affairs. (Another military junta took power for several years in 1980.) As noted above, there has been little toleration of religiously oriented political parties over the years. In 1997, the military maneuvered a government coalition led by the Islamist Refah (Welfare) Party out of power. A successor government was unable to cope with a major financial crisis in 1999-2000 that severely harmed average Turks. Those in power were viewed as ineffective and many also were considered corrupt. In that atmosphere, a group of young rebels who had begun their political lives in Refah created the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a new political party that played down religion while striving to project a clean image as conservative democrats. They said that they supported Turkey’s EU ambitions in order to transform the country into a truly modern state, but also probably because required reforms would ensure greater religious liberty and constrain the power of the military. In the fall 2002 election, Turkish voters broke from politicians of the past whom they held responsible for their economic plight and chose new 5 CIA, The World Factbook, June 24, 2010. Congressional Research Service 3 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power leaders. AKP won a plurality of the vote and formed the first single party government in many years. On September 17, 2010, following his victory in the September 12 constitutional referendum, AKP leader and Prime Minister Erdogan paid homage to Menderes and his colleagues when he laid a wreath at their tombs. (See “Constitutional Reforms,” below.) Erdogan said, “The Turkish nation has been commemorating these beloved people with gratitude and prayers for decades.” He described Menderes and the others as “martyrs of democracy” and asserted, “the torch of democracy lit by Menderes and his friends was carried at the highest level after passing from one hand to another, each passing day, eventually reached us.”6 Political Situation The Lawsuit to Ban the AKP A political crisis began in spring 2007, when the AKP-controlled parliament sought to elect then Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as president of the republic.7 Gul has roots in Turkey’s Islamist movement and his wife wears a head scarf, which secularists consider a symbol of both Islamism and backwardness. To secularists and Islamists alike, therefore, the country’s identity was tied to the selection of its president. Moreover, they argued that because the AKP already controlled the prime ministry and parliament (the Turkish Grand National Assembly), the balance of political power in the government would tilt in favor of Islamists if the party also assumed the presidency. A Turkish president is mainly a symbolic head of state, but he has significant powers of appointment as well as a bully pulpit. The crisis was temporarily resolved via early national elections on July 22, 2007, which the AKP won with a decisive 46.6% (usually rounded up as 47%) of the vote, enabling it to gain a strong majority in parliament. On August 28, the new legislature elected Gul president. Secularist opponents continued to scrutinize the AKP government’s performance for Islamist tendencies, and a reprise of the crisis may have been expected. In December 2007, President Gul named an AKP-allied professor to head the Higher Education Board (YOK), disturbing some secularists.8 They were even more provoked when, on January 14, 2008, Prime Minister Erdogan declared that the ban on women wearing the head scarf in all public institutions was “a serious problem in terms of freedom.”9 The ban has been in effect for several decades. On February 9, following Erdogan’s lead, an overwhelming 411-vote majority in the 550-seat parliament passed two constitutional amendments to lift the ban on wearing head scarves on university campuses; President Gul ratified them on February 22. On February 27, 2008, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Democratic Left Party (DSP) filed suit in the Constitutional Court to overturn the new amendments. Then, on 6 Fulya Ozerkan, “Turkish PM Commemorates Executed Former Leader with Visit,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, September 17, 2010. 7 See CRS Report RL34039, Turkey’s 2007 Elections: Crisis of Identity and Power, by Carol Migdalovitz, and CRS Report RL34646, Turkey: Update on Crisis of Identity and Power, by Carol Migdalovitz, for background. 8 YOK oversees state universities and traditionally has been viewed as a bastion of secularism. 9 “Lifting the Headscarf Ban, Promoting Turkishness,” Turkish Daily News, January 15, 2008. Congressional Research Service 4 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power March 14, the chief public prosecutor of the Court of Appeals requested the Constitutional Court to ban the AKP and 71 of its leading members, including Erdogan, Gul, more than 40 members of parliament, and 11 mayors, from politics for becoming a “focal point of anti-secular activities.” Among other charges, the request cited parliament’s lifting of the head scarf ban in universities. The AKP held a 340-seat majority in the 550-seat parliament and, therefore, the prosecutor deemed it responsible for the action. He did not seek to indict the opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) or smaller parties which had joined the AKP to provide the super-majority required for parliament to amend the Constitution. The AKP defense claimed that lifting the ban was aimed at expanding freedoms and rejected the prosecutor’s allegations. Many analysts considered the outlook for the AKP’s survival bleak, as the Constitutional Court was known to have a secularist majority. On June 5, the court ruled that parliament’s lifting of the ban on head scarves in universities was unconstitutional; the decision was widely viewed as a harbinger of a judgment on the AKP. A seven-member super-majority out of 11 members was required to close the party. However, on July 30, only six judges voted to ban the party, providing the AKP with a narrow escape. Four others agreed that the party was a focal point for anti-secular activities, but not serious ones. Thus, 10 judges found the party guilty. Yet, lacking seven votes, the court only imposed a financial penalty that was no hardship for the AKP, whose private donors could readily compensate for the loss. No AKP officials were banned. Some observers suggested that the court may have been influenced by the lack of a possible alternative government, given the absence of a serious political opposition at that time. Thus, the AKP benefited from what was seen as the ineffectiveness and lack of vision of the two main opposition parties, CHP and MHP. Neither has a party organization nor a level of grassroots support that can compete with the AKP. Under Deniz Baykal’s leadership, the CHP, the party of Ataturk, opposed government proposals without offering alternatives and may have lost its social democratic ideals.10 Recent elections had shown that its constituents were mainly residents of cities along the Aegean coast. For his part, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli supported lifting the head scarf ban and opposed banning the AKP, but maintained that AKP’s leaders, such as Prime Minister Erdogan, should be held responsible for illicit actions and subject to being banned from holding political office. Thus, Bahceli transparently and opportunistically saw a route to possible greater personal political success via banning the most popular and charismatic politician in the country. A ban on the AKP might have produced an indefinite period of political instability or at least uncertainty and been devastating for the country’s economy. It also could have seriously harmed Turkey’s European Union prospects and perhaps its relations with other allies. Aftermath In the months after the prosecutor proposed the ban, AKP leaders assiduously conducted business as usual in public, even though Ankara seemed frozen while awaiting the ruling. They refused to call supporters into the streets for protests, believing that a counter-reaction by security forces or opponents would exacerbate tensions and prove counterproductive. Shortly before the Court ruling, Prime Minister Erdogan reportedly admitted that “we made mistakes.”11 However, he did 10 This is the opinion of some in the CHP as well as others who have since left. See, e.g., “Turkey: Summary of Interview with CHP Leadership Candidate Haluk Koc,” Milliyet, April 21, 2008, OSC GMP20080421742001. 11 Interview with Ertugrul Ozkok, Hurriyet, July 26, 2008, OSC Document GMP20080726016007. Congressional Research Service 5 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power not repeat that admission after the ruling, when he denied that his party had ever been a focal point of anti-secular activities. After the judgment, AKP officials reaffirmed their commitment to an agenda of reforms and EU membership. President Gul called for “self-criticism and empathy,” saying, “in looking at our own errors, we at the same time have to place ourselves in the position of those opposed to us and try to understand the thinking and feelings of those against us.”12 Yet, AKP had not abandoned its desire to change society. On August 6, 2008, President Gul rejected 9 out of 21 nominees for university rector posts, reportedly because they had opposed the government on the head scarf issue. Instead, he chose others close to the AKP. Gul acted within his presidential authority, but some observers argued that he had proven unable to put himself—as he had proposed—in the position of the opposition and understand how it would react. He could not breach the country’s divide. Ergenekon and Other Alleged Plots13 As the AKP was surviving the attempt to ban it with greater confidence, a series of revelations of alleged coup plots besieged and weakened its more ardent opponents. On June 12, 2007, police raided an apartment in Istanbul and seized a cache of hand grenades, explosives, and fuses. The investigatory trail led to the arrests in January 2008 of prominent ultranationalists and secularists, including retired military officers, the head of a fringe political party, a university rector, the head of a non-governmental organization, businessmen, and journalists. On July 1, two retired four-star generals, additional retired military officers, the head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, and journalists were taken into custody. The arrests of generals of such high rank were unprecedented. The common denominator of those arrested appears to have been their opposition to the AKP and its ancestor, the Islamist Welfare (Refah) Party of the 1990s. The first indictment proposed on July 14, 2008, requested that 86 individuals be charged with being members of an armed terrorist organization, attempting to overthrow the government by force, inciting people to armed insurgency, instigating the killing of a judge during a 2006 attack on the Council of State (the highest administrative court), and bombing of the Cumhurriyet newspaper in 2007, among other crimes.14 The final first indictment was about 2,500 pages and included almost all sensational political crimes committed in Turkey in recent times. Critics have emphasized the length, excessiveness, and messiness of this and subsequent indictments. The case began to be heard in October 2008. In January 2009, there were additional arrests of senior officers, including three retired generals, a former head of the Higher Education Council (YOK), and the former chief prosecutor who had tried to get the AKP banned. The terrorism charge used in Ergenekon and in other alleged coup plot cases described below enables the authorities to bypass the regular court system and use specially authorized courts for which the minister of interior names judges and prosecutors, thereby involving the AKP 12 Interview with Hasan Cemal, Milliyet, August 2, 2008, OSC GMP20080802742001. 13 The charged members of the alleged criminal organization are said to have referred to themselves as Ergenekon. Ergenekon means “steep mountain pass” and refers to the Turkish national myth: it was the route via which Turkish ancestors, following a gray wolf, escaped from Central Asia to freedom in Turkey to exact revenge on their enemies. All of the accused are known to have openly opposed the AKP. 14 The prosecutor defined terrorism according to Turkey’s Counterterrorism Law 3713, as “actions undertaken with the aim of weakening, destroying, or seizing state authority, destroying the security of the state both at home and abroad, and destroying public order.” Congressional Research Service 6 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power government directly. No trials have concluded and no defendant has been convicted since Ergenekon and other suspected plots began to surface, although the length of time that has elapsed since the first detentions is not unusual in Turkey’s legal system. A second indictment, submitted in March 2009, ran over 1,900 pages, and charged 56 people with attempting to overthrow the government and possession of explosives and secret state documents. Diaries allegedly belonging to a retired admiral and a leftist journalist were presented as evidence amid other materials. The authorities controversially detained a number of academics and leaders of non-governmental organizations for their alleged involvement in the plot. A third indictment, submitted in August 2009, was more than 1,400 pages long and charged 52 suspects with a plot to kill the prime minister, among others. A fourth indictment, submitted in January 2010, was “only” 300 pages long and charged 17 naval officers, including two retirees, in connection with a large cache of arms found in April 2009 that was allegedly to be used to assassinate prosecutors of the Ergenekon plot. In addition, a special prosecutor in Erzurum submitted an indictment in March 2010, naming 16 defendants including 3rd Army Commander General Saldiray Berk, an active duty four-star general, and the Chief Prosecutor for Erzincan who had been investigating the Gulen community, several gendarmerie officers, and intelligence officials. (See “Fethullah Gulen Movement” below for more on Gulen.) They also were charged with “membership in a terrorist organization,” that is, Ergenekon, and intent to implement plans presented in earlier indictments. The group was alleged to have conspired to incriminate members of the Gulen community, among other acts. The plot has been called “The Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism” as fundamentalism is called in Turkey. Then Chief of the General Staff General Ilker Basbug and Land Forces Commander General Isik Kosaner, who succeeded Basbug on August 30, 2010, defended General Berk and charged that the indictment was based on secret witnesses and on misinterpreted innocent military actions. While the Ergenekon probe has been evolving, several other suspected plots have surfaced. The “Cage Operation” is alleged to have been a plan originating in the navy to undermine the government by assassinating prominent non-Muslims and bombing a museum while children were present. Blame for the crimes was to be cast on the AKP. “Operation Sledgehammer,” first reported in January 2010, is said to have been a high-level military plot to perpetrate a coup in 2003, not long after the AKP took power. It reportedly was an elaborate scheme to show that the AKP could not cope by bombing mosques, attacking museums, and creating military tensions with Greece, and thereby pave the way for a military intervention. A large number of active duty and retired military officers were arrested in connection with the plot. Retired 1st Army Commander General Cetin Dogan is alleged to have been the mastermind. Once again, AKP supporters accepted the veracity of the claims, but the general staff described the preparations as a 1st Army training seminar for dealing with possible domestic uprisings or threats.15 Some journalists and other analysts who have carefully examined the evidence maintain that many documents used to support the case are forgeries or are flawed in other ways.16 15 “Turkish Army Spokesman Highlights Timing of Coup Plan Reports,” Anatolia (the state news agency), January 22, 2010, BBC Monitoring European. 16 Gareth Jenkins, Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation, Silk Road Paper, August 2009, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Dani Rodrik, “The Death of Turkey’s Democracy; ‘I No Longer Recognize the (continued...) Congressional Research Service 7 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power The detentions provoked tensions as General Basbug convened a meeting of all serving full generals and admirals, sparking rumors of mass resignations. President Gul held an unusual meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan and General Basbug and issued a statement to reassure citizens. Former Deputy Chief of Staff General Ergin Saygun, former Air Force Commander General Ibrahim Firtina, and former Naval Commander Admiral Ozden Ornek were released from custody shortly thereafter. However, the 986-page indictment submitted on July 19 still names General Dogan as “mastermind” and Firtina, Ornek, and former Land Forces Commander Aytac Yalman, and other active duty generals and admirals as “suspects.” Authorities also arrested military officers in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc. The investigation began after two of the officers were apprehended for acting suspiciously near Arinc’s home in December 2009. The general staff claimed that the officers were engaged in intelligence collection unrelated to Arinc.17 Assessment Turkey has a highly centralized government in which the interior minister, a member of the AKP government, controls and funds the police, and the justice minister has influence over aspects of the judiciary. Some analysts believe that the AKP is using Ergenekon and subsequent indictments to intimidate its opponents, especially in the military.18 They claim that some allegations are derived from extensive police wiretapping and some are wildly inaccurate.19 These observers suggest that leaks of wiretaps to pro-government media outlets are part of a disinformation campaign to boost the AKP’s fortunes and to help it ensnare well-known secularist opponents, and not just coup-plotters.20 Former CHP Chairman Baykal argued that the Ergenekon charges are “fictitious” and asserted, “there is a suspicion in society that it is turning out to be a political revenge process rather than a legal process.”21 It is unknown if AKP or the Gulen Movement (see below) has devised Ergenekon for the purposes of revenge and intimidation. However, there has been considerable and convincing criticism of the conduct of the investigations, with practices such as defective search warrants, excessive reliance on wiretap evidence, prolonged detention without charge, and harsh treatment of those indicted. 22 There also have been accusations of planted evidence and forged documents and that “(d)eception at such a scale would be unimaginable without at least the implicit cooperation of members of the government.”23 Some analysts suggest the police and prosecutors’ methods contradict European Union (EU) and international standards of justice and may (...continued) Country Where I was Raised,’” Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2010. 17 Statement of Office of the General Staff, December 23, 2009, OSC Document GMP20091223016002. 18 Nicholas Birch, “Ataturk Veneration Challenged; Nationalists and Islamists Pursued by Prosecutors,” Washington Times, July 10, 2008, quoting a Turkish investigative journalist. 19 Bulent Aliriza and Seda Ciftci, “Another Long Hot Summer in Ankara,” Turkey Project Commentary, Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 9, 2008. 20 Gareth Jenkins, “Pro-AKP Media Steps up Disinformation Campaign Over Ergenekon,” http://www.jamestown.org, July 7, 2008. 21 Hidir Goktas and Selcuk Gokoluk, “Plan for Coup in Turkey,” The Gazette (Montreal), July 4, 2008. 22 See e.g., Riza Turman, “Waves of Arrests and Police Searches,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, April 21, 2009, Mehmet Ali Birand, “Ergenekon will Make Life Difficult for AKP,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, April 21, 2009. 23 Dani Rodrik, Pinar Dogan, “Turkey’s Other Dirty War,” The New Republic, May 24, 2010. Congressional Research Service 8 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power undermine hope that the case would serve to reinforce Turkey’s democracy, rule of law, and path to the EU. The serial “revelations” are said to have produced a climate of fear among critics of the government, worried that they could be apprehended next based on innocuous or fictitious evidence. As yet, no AKP or government official is known to have criticized the manner in which the investigations are being conducted. To the contrary, Prime Minister Erdogan has repeatedly expressed support for the investigations and denied that they are a tool of the AKP. Some observers see the alleged coup cases as a test of the ability of the civilian government to achieve supremacy over the military.24 Mainly, they view the investigations as confronting the extra-governmental power of what has long been referred to as the “deep state.”25 The “deep state” refers to like-minded members of the military, bureaucracy, and related elite who believe it their duty to safeguard the legacy of Ataturk and his vision for Turkey as a modern, secular state, and who, according to this theory, have controlled the country and manipulated the political system for 50 years. In that time, the military was responsible for two major coups d’état and several other actions that deposed civilian governments. Members of the network are said to feel most threatened by the AKP’s rise. This record of military interference or what its opponents describe as “tutelage” lends some credibility to Ergenekon and other alleged plots. 2009 Municipal Elections26 Table 1. Results of 2009 Municipal Elections Party Orientation Percent of Vote Changea Justice and Development Party (AKP) Moderate Islamist/Centrist 38.1% -7.8% Republican People’s Party (CHP) Nationalist Left 23.1% +2.2% Nationalist Action Party (MHP) Nationalist Right 16.1% +1.8% Democratic Society Party (DTP) Kurdish 5.6% b Felicity Party (SP) Islamist 5.2% +2.4% a. From 2007 national election. b. DTP did not compete as a party in 2007 because of the 10% of the vote threshold for parties to enter parliament. Instead, it worked around that obstacle by sponsoring independent candidates and won 20 seats. The March 2009 local elections for mayors and provincial councils may have been a wake-up call for the AKP and dispelled the notion that its continued domination of Turkish politics is inevitable. Although it placed first with 39% of the vote, won the most municipalities, and scored victories nationwide, the party’s total vote was less than the 46.6% it had registered in 2007 and its strength was mainly in Anatolia. Moreover, the combined vote of the opposition parties was greater than the AKP’s. Voter turnout was normally high at 80%. CHP was said to have run a more issue-oriented campaign than in 2007, when it sounded anti-religious. It won most of the provinces along the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. DTP retrieved its followers from AKP, 24 Omer Taspinar, “A Rotten Year for the Military,” Today’s Zaman online, January 4, 2010. 25 See, e.g., Oral Calislar, “Bitterness Against AKP Shouldn’t Blind Us to Ergenekon,” Turkish Daily News, July 16, 2008. 26 For an analysis of the election, see Eser Sekercioglu, “Turkey’s March 2009 Elections: Loss Without Defeat, Gain Without Victory,” Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), Vol. 13, No. 2, June 2009. Congressional Research Service 9 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power which had polled well in the predominantly Kurdish southeast in 2007 and had tried to woo the populace there. Instead, the Kurds asserted their ethnic identity by choosing DTP, a party whose mission was to defend that identity. Elsewhere, nationalist parties may have gained some traction from popular reaction to the unending war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Some moderates, who supported the AKP when it was under siege in 2007, were said to have become disenchanted with the AKP’s flagging support for democratizing EU reforms. In addition, some Islamists may have been repelled by an incipient stench of corruption afflicting AKP and asserted their identity with SP, which had acquired new leaders since 2007. While the election results were largely attributed to the economic downturn and the opposition’s choice of more effective candidates,27 analysts also suggested that some voters were wary of giving the AKP and its combative and somewhat authoritarian leader, that is, Prime Minister Erdogan, monopolistic power.28 Others simply may have become tired of a government that had been in power for seven years. Cabinet Changes The municipal elections produced a cabinet shake-up. On May 1, 2009, Prime Minister Erdogan implemented major changes to renew his government by changing almost half of his ministers. Most of those replaced represented districts where the AKP had fared badly in the vote. Portfolios affected deal mainly with the economy and foreign policy, but other significant ones took on new leaders as well. The prime minister anointed former speaker and fellow AKP founder Bulent Arinc as first deputy prime minister. Arinc’s appointment was seen as an effort to stanch the rise of or undermine the SP because he is associated with the orientation of National View or Milli Gorus that characterized AKP’s precursor, the more Islamist Refah Party.29 Balancing that move, advocate of girls’ education and former member of the CHP Nimet Cubukcu was named the first woman minister of education, replacing a fervid advocate of Islamic education.30 Ali Babacan, who some had considered out of his depth as foreign minister, became another deputy prime minister and returned to his métier with oversight of ministries related to the economy. Meanwhile, Ahmet Davutoglu, the academic influential advisor to President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan and architect of AKP’s foreign policy, emerged from the shadows for the public role of foreign minister. Constitutional Reforms In 2010, the AKP government proposed to amend the 1982 constitution, which had been written under the auspices of a military junta and has since been amended many times. The government asserted that the changes were needed in order to pave the way for European Union membership 27 Turkey registered a growth rate of only 1.1% in 2008 and unemployment was 15.8% in March 2009, at the time of the election. “Turkish Economy Growth 1.1 pct in 2008,” Xinhua News Agency, March 31, 2009, and “Turkey’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 14.5% in Jan 2010,” Anatolia, April 15, 2010, OSC Document GMP20100415788015. 28 Soli Ozel, “The Electorate’s Tune-Up,” On Turkey, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (hereafter GMF), March 31, 2009. 29 Amberin Zaman, “Turkey’s Cabinet Reshuffle: Another Balancing Act,” On Turkey, GMF, May 11, 2009. 30 The role of women in the government and bureaucracy reportedly has otherwise been diminishing statistically since AKP came to power. Soner Cagaptay and Rueya Perincek, “Women’s Diminishing Power in Turkey,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, May 24, 2010. Congressional Research Service 10 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power and to create a modern and advanced democracy. The EU has advocated many of the reforms and has pressed Turkey to adopt a completely new constitution. Many of the 27 proposed amendments were in fact democratizing, such as ones to create an ombudsman, and to improve the rights of children, elderly, women, the disabled, labor unions, civil servants, and to privacy. Other changes would allow the trial of military officers who took power via the September 1980 coup and enable the trial of military personnel in civilian courts for non-military crimes.31 The most controversial reforms were amendments to add judges to the Constitutional Court, change the makeup of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which appoints judges and prosecutors, and make it more difficult to ban parties. The court was to be enlarged from 11 members to 17, with the president gaining power to appoint most and parliament, where AKP holds sway, the remainder; members’ terms would be limited to 12 years; and the court’s jurisdiction would be limited. Meanwhile, HSYK would be enlarged from 7 members to 21 and the minister of justice would gain more control over it. The AKP clearly intended to exert greater influence over both judicial bodies. Professor Ilter Turan suggested that Prime Minister Erdogan is “inclined to think that a party enjoying a parliamentary majority should reign unconstrained by other institutions.”32 Other critics accused the government of attacking the independence of and politicizing the judiciary, seeking to destroy the separation of powers and checks and balances, and weaken a last bastion of secularist opposition. The AKP denied the accusations and maintained that the changes would make the functioning of the judicial system similar to that of some EU member states. Omer Taspinar of the Brookings Institution observed that the judiciary heretofore has not been truly independent anyway, as it primarily has served secularism.33 Parliament—in essence, 336 AKP members—agreed to all but one of the proposed amendments, voting down the one making it more difficult to ban political parties. Ironically, that amendment failed mainly because several AKP members said to be nationalists were concerned about the loss of the ban as a weapon against allegedly separatist Kurdish political parties even though the amendment also would have shielded the AKP. President Gul approved the package of amendments on May 12. The AKP submitted the 26 amendments that passed parliament with less than the 367 votes needed to avoid a referendum as a single package, not individually, to a September 12 national vote. Democratization advocates were disappointed that the AKP did not propose an entirely new constitution and that the proposed amendments did not advance the rights of ethnic or religious groups and of free expression, lower the 10% of the vote threshold for a party to enter parliament, require political parties to hold primaries in order to end party leaders’ inordinate control, or limit legislators’ immunity. Other critics charged that submitting the amendments as a package for a referendum resembled methods used in authoritarian regimes. The (Kurdish) Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had indicated willingness to support changes if they included a lowering of the 10% of the vote threshold for parties to enter parliament, which has long been an obstacle 31 Due to the probable expiration of the statute of limitations, none of the perpetrators of the coup may be prosecuted. Moreover, General Kenan Evren, head of the 1980 junta, is now 93 years of age. The amendment appeared to be a ploy to get the opposition CHP, which was ousted from power in 1980, to support the package of amendments. It did not work. 32 Ilter Turan, “A Background to the Constitutional Referendum: Reinforcing the Politics of Polarization,” On Turkey, GMF, August 30, 2010. 33 Omer Taspinar, “Judicial Independence and Democracy in Turkey,” Today’s Zaman Online, July 13, 2010. Congressional Research Service 11 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power for Kurdish parties. As the amendments did not address that issue, the BDP members did not vote for them. CHP deputies did not attend the votes, and MHP members voted against amendments. CHP and 14 other members of parliament applied to the Constitutional Court to annul the entire package of amendments, arguing that it contravenes the immutable Article 2 of the present constitution, which defines Turkey as “a democratic, secular, and social state governed by the rule of law,” etc. 34 The court had the prerogative to annul individual amendments or the entire package. On July 7, it annulled parts of the amendments dealing with the court and the HSYK. While upholding increasing the number of members of both bodies, it opposed limiting the legal establishment’s role in the selection of candidates for the court and thereby expanding the president’s power of appointment. It also opposed expanding the pool of candidates for the HSYK beyond the legal profession, which might have made it easier for the AKP to pack that body. The remainder of those two amendments and rest of the package were submitted to the referendum. The AKP was satisfied that its reforms survived the court review with only minor changes. As Deputy Prime Minister and former Justice Minister Cemil Cicek observed, “the constitutional package is pretty good even in its new form.”35 AKP, SP, and the small Islamist Grand Unity Party (BBP) campaigned for a “yes” vote in the referendum. MHP and CHP campaigned for a “no” vote. CHP continued to argue that the amendments would politicize the judiciary. BDP said that it would boycott the vote because the changes ignored the Kurds’ concerns. An EU endorsement of the constitutional changes may have undermined the opposition description of them. The Office of the EU Commissioner for Enlargement called the measures “a positive step in the right direction as it addresses a number of shortcomings which the EU has identified over the years.”36 The referendum campaign disappointed as neither side focused on the substance of the amendments, leaving many voters ill-informed. Instead, Prime Minister Erdogan and CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu engaged in a nasty, divisive personal battle and dwelt on unrelated policy issues, such as a general amnesty for the PKK and negotiating with the terrorist group. Erdogan raised fears about his future conduct when he appeared to threaten non-governmental organizations which chose to remain neutral with regard to the referendum and described opponents of the amendments as “supporters of the (1980) military coup.” The campaign transmogrified into a vote of confidence on Erdogan and possible preview of the next national elections. Despite predictions of a close vote, a much larger than expected 58.45% majority approved the amendments, while 41.54% disapproved of them. The participation rate was 77% in a peaceful climate. However, regional differences were strong and evidenced continuing polarization of society. Most of Anatolia voted yes; most of the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts and Thrace (the part of Turkey that is geographically part of Europe) voted no; and much of the southeast did not vote. Erdogan hailed the result as a victory for democracy. It certainly was a personal victory for him and for the AKP, which increased its share of the vote from the 2009 municipal elections. CHP also appears to have increased its share, but it did not increase its vote in the southeast 34 Yusuf Kanli, “Indecent Offer,” Hurriyet Daily News. com, April 27, 2010. “AK Party Hopeful, Opposition Vows to Vote Against Package,” Today’s Zaman Online, July 9, 2010. 36 Carol Malouf, “Turkey’s Democratic Revolution,” McClatchy-Tribune Business News, July 12, 2010. 35 Congressional Research Service 12 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power despite Kilicdaroglu’s campaign there. MHP suffered major defections to the yes position, as it lost many municipalities that it controls. Almost immediately after the results were announced, Erdogan announced plans for implementing legislation and to draft a new constitution for approval after the national elections. Interior Minister Besir Atalay declared, “a way has been opened now to help us to a more radical change in our constitution and change it entirely.”37 The chairman of the parliamentary Constitutional Commission (or committee) is considered an expert on presidential systems, which the prime minister is known to prefer. The kind of system that is adopted may be the final test of AKP’s dedication to democracy and its view of the identity of the state. Role of the Military The Turkish military views itself as the guarantor of the Turkish Republic and protector of its secular identity, and has overtly intervened in the political process at least five times since 1960, including two coups. Civilian leaders have heretofore had limited control over the military. The general staff is not subordinate to the minister of defense; the chief of staff reports to the prime minister. For years, the military practically chose its own chief of staff by submitting a name for appointment. The name was that of the land forces commander. Yet, during the crises over the possible closure of the AKP and the Ergenekon affair, the military commanders were restrained, aside from calling for caution and respect for the law. They may not have recovered from a bungled attempt to prevent President Gul’s election by means of a warning notice that then Chief of the General Staff Yasar Buyukanit posted on the general staff’s website on April 27, 2007, described by some as an attempted “e-coup.”38 That action was counterproductive, as it helped bring about early national elections, contributed to the AKP victory in the 2007 elections by generating sympathy for it as an underdog confronting the powerful military, and produced Gul’s election. Thus, the military may have been content to let secularist allies in the judicial bureaucracy take the lead in the effort to eliminate the AKP. After the party survived its judicial test, the military commanders verbally reasserted their oversight role and dedication to secularism at the change of command ceremony on August 30, 2007, in the presence of President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. Incoming Land Forces Commander General Isik Kosaner, who became chief of staff on August 30, 2010, forthrightly stated, “protection of fundamental characteristics of the republic cannot be considered intervention in domestic politics.” Then new Chief of the General Staff General Ilker Basbug communicated the same message, but with more subtlety. He confirmed, “the Turkish Armed Forces is always involved as a party when it comes to safeguarding and protecting the underlying philosophy of the Republic of Turkey,” noting, “the principle of secularism is one of the pillars of the underlying philosophy of the Republic.” Basbug also quoted Article 24 of the constitution, which stipulates that religion should not be exploited for political benefit. 39 He recommended that it was essential for social peace that those concerned about the growing influence of religious ideas on the country’s cultural identity be taken seriously. 37 “Referendum Opened Way for More Radical Change in Constitution, Interior Minister,” Anatolia, September 14, 2010, BBC Monitoring European, September 15, 2010. 38 Elif Safak, “It is Not Easy to Be a Turk,” Turkish Daily News, May 12, 2007. 39 Speech delivered by Turkish Chief of the General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug at an inaugural ceremony held on August (continued...) Congressional Research Service 13 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power The military has not followed its rhetoric with action. Some analysts suggest that it has been intimidated by the Ergenekon and other prosecutions and, therefore, is reluctant to challenge the AKP directly. Others observe that the AKP has proven its popularity at the ballot box repeatedly and there has been no public demand for military intervention. Moreover, until recently, there have been no credible alternatives to AKP rule, so its removal might have produced a period of instability that could derail the considerable economic progress that Turkey has made in the past decade. Thus, the military’s own patriotism may have constrained any desire to overthrow the government. For its part, the AKP has gradually chipped away at the military’s power. Early on, it deprived the general staff of the chairmanship of the National Security Council, giving the post to a civilian. In 2009, parliament passed a law granting jurisdiction over civilian crimes committed by members of the military to civilian courts. (The Constitutional Court overturned the law in January 2010, but AKP revived the idea as a constitutional amendment in the package that passed in September.) As noted, critics of AKP rule believe that the investigations into Ergenekon and other alleged coup plots for which retired and active duty members of the armed forces have been detained is serving as a weapon to tame the military. Media leaks about Ergenekon and the other plots also reveal possible fissures within the previously presumed united ranks of the armed forces, as some journalists suggest that only those in the military could be sources of the revelations. Finally, in February 2010, the government abolished the Protocol on Cooperation for Security and Public Order (EMASYA), which allowed the military to intervene in domestic security matters on its own initiative. It had been signed in the aftermath of the military’s 1997 ouster of a civilian government led by AKP’s more Islamist predecessor. EMASYA’s demise was a byproduct of the “Sledgehammer” Plot, in which military elements reportedly planned to create a climate of insecurity in order to justify another military intervention. Chief of Staff General Basbug said that the protocol was no longer needed. Although the general staff is cooperating with the police by allowing searches of military residences and the seizure of documents, its responses indicate that it may be unable to contend with the barrage of media leaks from the investigation.40 In June 2009, General Basbug first charged that an “asymmetric psychological operation” was being waged against the Turkish Armed Forces via the media and that there was an organized “campaign to discredit and slander” them. 41 He voiced similar concerns on additional occasions, and new Chief of Staff General Kosaner has echoed that anxiety. It is a sign of the military’s diminishing power that these remarks have not stopped the legal and media onslaught. The government played its strongest card against the military at the August 2010 meetings of the Supreme Military Council (YAS), which decides military promotions. In a landmark development, Prime Minister Erdogan and President Gul exerted civilian control over the military (...continued) 28, 2008, text on website of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, OSC Document, GMP20080828734009. A more complete Basbug quote from Article 24 was “nobody should exploit or abuse any religion or religious feelings or things that are regarded as sacred with a view to basing the basic social, economic, political, and legal systems or any part of them on religious rules or deriving political or personal benefit or clout....” 40 Some view the cooperation with the police as a sign that some in the military command may be trying to get rid of undemocratic elements. However, this notion may be yet another conspiracy theory produced in an atmosphere conducive to them. 41 General Ilker Basbug News Conference on Plot Allegations, Anatolia, June 26, 2009, BBC Monitoring European, June 28, 2009. Congressional Research Service 14 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power by not rubber stamping recommendations of the military commanders. Two days before the YAS session, AKP allies in the judiciary charged with prosecuting the alleged coup plots appeared to aid the government. An Istanbul court hearing the Sledgehammer case (above) issued arrest warrants for 102 officers, including 11 generals and admirals whose future service the YAS was to determine. (The warrants would be annulled on August 7.) Some journalists perceived political motivation in the timing of the arrests, as the trial is not scheduled until December. 42 Gul and Erdogan would not approve promotions of those subject to arrest, including 1st Army Commander General Hasan Igsiz, who was expected to become land forces commander and next in line to be chief of staff but was called to testify in the Sledgehammer case. In addition, Gul opposed retiring officers and thereby infringing on their rights before the judicial process ran its course. Thus, YAS did not announce the appointments of land forces commander and chief of the general staff as per usual practice on the fourth day of meetings. Gul and Erdogan withheld approval of the chief of staff until the land forces commander was decided, thereby denying the incoming chief of staff of influence over the latter appointment. Commander of the Gendarmerie General Atilla Isik reportedly was the government’s choice for land forces instead of Igsiz, but he unexpectedly decided to retire early and not to take a post denied his comrade. In the end, a compromise was reached. General Erdal Ceylanoglu was named land forces commander to serve for one year before reaching mandatory retirement, at which time General Necdet Ozel will succeed him and be in line to become chief of staff in 2013. Finally, General Isik Kosaner was named the new chief of staff as expected. Kurdish Issue Kurds represent between 15% and 20% of the Turkish populace and have long struggled to claim their own identity in a majority Turkish state. However, they do not constitute a recognized minority, as Turkey only recognizes groups named in the 1923 Lausanne Treaty as minorities, that is, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, and Jews. Because of a resulting perception of minorities as “others,” Kurdish politicians do not seek “minority rights” when they state their demands. Instead, they voice them in terms of group or constitutional rights. Most Kurds trace their origins to the impoverished southeast of the country, which still is predominantly Kurdish, but many have migrated to major urban centers elsewhere. Since 1984, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the U.S.-State Department designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 1996, has waged a guerrilla war against Turkish security forces mainly in southeast Turkey and engaged in urban terrorism elsewhere in the country. In 1999, PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured and sentenced to life in prison on the island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara and the insurgency abated temporarily. However, the PKK took advantage of the chaos in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to establish safe havens in northern Iraq, from which it has since launched attacks against Turkey. Since 2007, the United States military has provided “active intelligence” to Turkish counterparts, leading to more targeted operations against the PKK. Turkish commanders have expressed satisfaction with this cooperation. These operations, as well as increased cooperation with the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, may have gradually provided Ankara with some sense of security needed to address the concerns of 42 Yusuf Kanli, “Domesticating the Military,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, August 5, 2010. Congressional Research Service 15 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Turkey’s Kurds. The combination of military escalation and government measures affected the PKK, which unilaterally declared a cease-fire in 2009. The declaration had little meaning, however, as intermittent PKK attacks on soldiers continued to occur. PKK military leader Murat Karayilan, who is based in northern Iraq, claimed that the group was no longer seeking independence, only autonomy. But this, and his demand for a separate regional parliament, similar to those in Scotland and Wales, run counter to Turkey’s constitutional definition of a unitary state. From 2005, when Prime Minister Erdogan delivered a major speech to Kurds in the southeast city of Diyarbakir, until 2007, the AKP government emphasized socioeconomic development of the region and reaped benefits from these policies in terms of votes in the 2007 national election. However, it also may have raised expectations that it would next address cultural identity issues, which it did not do. Perhaps as a result, AKP’s showing in the southeast in the 2009 municipal elections was poor, as DTP reclaimed many municipalities. Over the years, Kurds repeatedly have endeavored to participate in Turkey’s political system legally via the formation of political parties. Yet, none of these parties has distanced itself from or condemned the PKK, as the parties and the terrorist group share the same goals and believe that they serve the same community. Therefore, the courts have banned each party for alleged links to the PKK. Most recently, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) was represented in parliament until December 2009. It had an ambitious agenda: constitutional protection of Kurdish cultural rights and language, what it called “democratic autonomy” or strengthening local administrations in the southeast, abolition of the system of village guards (local militias set up by the state to help the military fight the PKK), improvement of Ocalan’s prison conditions, and a general amnesty for the PKK. Not unexpectedly, in November 2007, the prosecutor asked the Constitutional Court to ban the DTP and 221 of its members, including 18 members of parliament, for being in conflict with the indivisible integrity of the territory of the state and supporting the PKK. Shortly after the March 2009 municipal elections, security forces detained many DTP leaders and members. A political calculus to position the AKP better for the next national elections after the 2009 municipal results may have spurred the government to launch what has been called a “Kurdish opening.” The government said that the initiative was aimed at undermining support for the PKK and finally ending the decades-long conflict. The move also may have been inspired by U.S. plans to withdraw from Iraq and by Turkey’s improved relations with the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq. On July 29, 2009, Interior Minister Atalay announced a “democratization” initiative. He said that he would seek a national consensus to shape measures to be undertaken by consulting political parties, non-governmental groups, and others. However, the government never discussed specific proposals or sought a consensus with its interlocutors. The nationalist opposition rapidly succeeded in defining the initiative in the public space. The CHP and MHP charged that the government was negotiating with terrorists because of its willingness to talk to the DTP, which they maintained was the same as the PKK. MHP leader Bahceli accused the government of engaging in a “treasonous project,” and then CHP head Baykal charged that the government was “trying to prevent terrorism by inciting ethnic division.”43 Baykal said that he would oppose partial autonomy and initiatives that would 43 “Opposition sets Red Lines, Incurs Gov’t Wrath,” Hurriyet Daily News.com , August 10, 2009, “Erdogan Makes Emotional Appeal for Unity on Kurdish Initiative,” Today’s Zaman online, August 12, 2009, Murat Yetkin, “We Will Not Be Fellow Travelers in This Affair,” Radikal, September 6, 2009, BBC Monitoring European, September 7, 2009.” Congressional Research Service 16 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power introduce ethnicity into the education system, that is, instruction in Kurdish language. Both parties refused to meet with Atalay. Chief of the General Staff General Basbug took a more nuanced approach. He had previously acknowledged that there is no military solution to the Kurdish problem, yet he quoted Article 3 of the Constitution which states, “The Turkish state … is an indivisible whole. Its language is Turkish,” which appeared to eliminate regional autonomy and recognition of the Kurdish language as possible aspects of the initiative. Basbug also declared, “the Turkish armed forces cannot engage in any activity which might lead to the establishment of relations with the (PKK) terrorist organization or its supporters.” Yet, he expressed support for “measures in the economic, socio-cultural, and international areas,” thereby suggesting that the military was not completely opposed to the government’s initiative. 44 The “Kurdish opening” suffered a severe setback in October 2009, when 8 PKK members and 26 other Kurds returned to Turkey from a refugee camp in northern Iraq to a heroes’ welcome in Diyarbakir, the regional capital of southeastern Turkey. Thousands of Kurds shouted slogans in support of the PKK and of Abdullah Ocalan as if it were a victory celebration. The televised images outraged many Turks because of the PKK’s long record of terrorism. Prime Minister Erdogan described the events as a “crisis of confidence” and repeatedly blamed the DTP for the demonstration and for upsetting the process.45 The government halted the arrival of additional groups from Iraq and most of the returnees were imprisoned. These developments did not completely deter the government, although the initial steps it announced as part of the initiative, retitled the “democratic overture,” were modest. As stated in November 2009, they included establishment of an independent human rights institution and a commission to combat discrimination; parliamentary ratification of the U.N. Convention Against Torture; a national mechanism to prevent torture; establishment of an independent body to receive and investigate accusations of torture and mistreatment by the security forces; renaming areas in line with demands from local residents (i.e., restoration of Kurdish names for villages that had been renamed in Turkish); and freedom for political parties to communicate in languages other than Turkish. The government did not describe the measures as serving a specific group, that is, the Kurds. Interior Minister Atalay said that they were part of a “dynamic process” and not a final list. There was no amnesty for Ocalan or PKK militants, no federalism, and no raising of Kurdish to the level of an official language. In other words, the government did not propose changes to constitutional provisions mandating the unitary state or the official language (Turkish). As of this date, the government has not implemented its limited proposals. Meanwhile, DTP chose to champion ending Ocalan’s alleged ill-treatment in prison as a condition for supporting the “Kurdish opening” and called for a government dialogue with Ocalan, whom it considered essential to a solution of the Kurdish issue. DTP leader Ahmet Turk described the government’s proposals as “some minor steps which will have no significance.”46 44 “Victory Week Message by General Staff Chief General Ilker Basbug,” Office of the Chief of the General Staff, August 25, 2009, OSC Document GMP20090825788006. 45 “The Return of PKK Members from Europe Postponed,” NTV Online, October 24, 2009, OSC Document GMP20091024017003. 46 “We will not Obstruct this Process,” Interview with Ahmet Turk, Milliyet, November 16, 2009, BBC Monitoring (continued...) Congressional Research Service 17 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power In December, seven soldiers were killed in a PKK attack in Tokat. Then, the Constitutional Court unanimously voted to ban DTP and 37 members, including Ahmet Turk, from participating in politics for five years. Turk and Aysel Tugluk, his deputy leader, also were expelled from parliament. Shortly thereafter, some 200 Kurdish politicians were arrested in the southeast. Other DTP members of parliament joined the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which has 20 members of parliament and Selahattin Demirtas and Gulten Kisanek as co-chairmen. Demirtas has expressed interest in working with the government to find a solution.47 He denies that there is an organic link between the BDP and PKK, but notes that the PKK is a reality with an important constituency in the southeast, where BDP (DTP) receives its 2.5 million votes, and must be an important actor for solution to the Kurdish problem. Demirtas has suggested that “Kurd” need not be mentioned in the constitution, but that it should be “the Constitution of the Turkish citizens,” not the Turkish nation. He also wants the constitution to allow education in a mother tongue without supplanting the compulsory teaching of Turkish.48 In addition, he calls for the establishment of regional assemblies to legislate on local issues, such as education and the economy. He insists that the BDP is the interlocutor for cultural, political, and economic dimensions of the Kurdish issue, and that only Ocalan can end the armed struggle. Police have arrested dozens of BDP members, administrators, and mayors from the southeast who are part of the Assembly of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK), which has alleged connections to the PKK. In February 2010, a prosecutor launched an investigation into the BDP, which may pave the way for yet another party closure. While no longer in parliament, Ahmet Turk still is the most prominent Kurdish politician. In August 2010, he became co-chairman of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), with Tugluk as his co-chair. DTK is an umbrella organization of Kurdish parties and actors that is an influential forum and appears to act as a superior to the BDP. It has called for a “reciprocal cease-fire.” Ahmet Turk also calls for lowering the threshold to enter parliament to at least 5% and for the release of local leaders and others from prison, where they have been held without trial.49 In the spring of 2010, the PKK again escalated its attacks, and Turkish warplanes responded with bombing raids against the group’s strongholds in northern Iraq. In late May, the PKK killed seven naval servicemen in Iskenderun—outside its usual areas of operation. On June 19, more than 200 PKK terrorists assaulted a mobile military unit in Semdinli, near the Iraq border, killing 9 soldiers and injuring 14. Two others died and two were injured in pursuit of the perpetrators. Then, a PKK front group claimed credit for bombing a military bus in Istanbul, killing 5 and injuring 11. Officials also believe that the PKK was responsible for an explosion on a natural gas pipeline near the Iraqi border in July, although company officials indicated that the cause was not determined. Observers noted that, as opposed to its past acts of terrorism, the PKK did not target civilians. Prime Minister Erdogan charged that the PKK was trying to sabotage “the economic, social, and democratic improvement process,” but others suggested the group may be attempting to fill the void created by the lack of real government action on its initiative.50 Most analysts (...continued) European, November 17, 2009. 47 Comments at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 4, 2010. 48 Safak Timur, “Pro-Kurdish Leader sees Dawn to Follow Political Midnight in Turkey,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, June 29, 2010. 49 “I Prefer ‘Yes’ from a Conscientious and Ethical Standpoint,” interview with Ahmet Turkey by Cemal Kalyoncu and Ayse Adli, Sunday’s Zaman Online, September 5, 2010, OSC Document GMP20100905788004. 50 “Turkish Premier says PKK a Tool for Plots Against Turkey,” Anatolia, June 20, 2010, BBC Monitoring European. Congressional Research Service 18 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power agree that the government’s Kurdish opening is closing despite the government’s assertions that “the democratic overture is continuing.” In July 2010, Erdogan invited selected political parties to discuss terrorism. MHP and BDP were noticeably not among the invitees because the prime minister claimed that they exploit terrorist attacks for their political interests. This led some to question the sincerity of the government’s desire for non-military solution to the Kurdish issue because representatives of two significant antagonists were missing.51 Moreover, as nationalist anti-PKK sentiment has risen, the government has focused increasingly on use of armed force, such as calling for the deployment of professional soldiers along the border, while retaining its advocacy of a multifaceted approach. There were fears that an escalation in ethnic violence was beginning. In July, nationalists and Kurds clashed in the streets of a town in southeast Turkey after four policemen were killed in an alleged PKK attack. Then, large-scale street battles between Turks and Kurds occurred in the northwestern province of Bursa. Some analysts attributed the widening tensions, especially in the west, to greater public discussion of ethnicity and identity and to a pre-election period in which all groups seek to make their marks. The violence was unlikely to be conducive for even modest government measures, much less for more dramatic ones that might satisfy Kurds’ ambitions designed to gain greater official recognition of their demands regarding identity issues. However, in August, the PKK announced a cease-fire for the month of Ramadan. As it was set to expire, a bomb killed nine and wounded four civilians, including two children, in the southeast province of Hakkari on September 17. The government blamed the PKK, but the group disavowed responsibility and some reports implicated a dissenting PKK faction. 52 The PKK subsequently extended the cease-fire. Press Freedom The U.S. State Department and the European Union have long criticized Turkey for imposing legal limitations on freedom of expression. Increasing pro-government groups’ acquisition of formerly more independent media outlets and constraints on press freedom in particular have raised questions about Prime Minister Erdogan’s and the AKP government’s commitment to democratic values and whether they are attempting to squelch opposition voices. According to the annual State Department report on human rights practices in Turkey in 2009, “individuals in many cases could not criticize the state or government publicly without risk of criminal suits or government investigations.”53 This particular criticism did not appear in the previous State reports and may have resulted from the investigation and detention of journalists known to be ardent secularists and critics of the AKP in the Ergenekon probe. Moreover, pro-government forces, with family or business connections to Erdogan, have acquired control of the second-largest media conglomerate in the country. In 2007, state banking regulators took over and then sold, with the assistance of generous loans from state banks, the Ciner 51 Rusen Cakir, “Let us say the Professional Army was a Success,” Vatan Online, July 15, 2010. “Interior Minister Atalay: All Findings in the Hakkari Blast Point to Similar Attacks by the Organization to Date, Anatolia, September 17, 2010, OSC Document GMP20100918016008, “Deep PKK Responsible for Land Mine Attack, Officials Say,” Anatolia, OSC Document 20100918017004. 53 U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Report on Human Right Practices, March 11, 2010. 52 Congressional Research Service 19 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power publishing group to a company whose chief economic officer is the prime minister’s son-in-law. Its large circulation daily, Sabah, subsequently became another voice supportive of the government. Similarly loyal companies may now control about half of the media in the country. The other half may be considered independent or opposition in orientation. The case of the Dogan Media Group, the largest media conglomerate not controlled by government allies, may be a prime example of Erdogan’s sensitivity to criticism and of dangers to press freedom. Dogan owns seven newspapers, including the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, Hurriyet, and Milliyet, as well as 28 magazines and 3 television channels, and engages in business in other fields, as do other media conglomerates. Owner Aydin Dogan had long used his media outlets to gain political influence for the benefit of his other businesses. In 2008, the Dogan press increasingly criticized the AKP government’s actions. They reported about some Erdogan family members’ business dealings and about a criminal case in Germany involving a Muslim charity (Lighthouse) accused of funneling money to the AKP in violation of a Turkish ban on foreign funding. In response, the prime minister castigated the Dogan Group publicly and called for a boycott of its outlets. This treatment was not new, as Erdogan previously had attacked other media owners, revoked the accreditation of journalist critics, sued cartoonists for defamation, and called for other boycotts. In the Dogan case, Erdogan’s personal predilections may have waxed into government policy. In April 2008, the Ministry of Finance began a tax inspection of Dogan’s companies. In February 2009, it ordered Dogan Media to pay a penalty of approximately $490 million. 54 In September, another penalty of approximately $2.6 billion was imposed. Aydin Dogan charged that this constituted an assault on freedom of the press and was the result of selective government enforcement. Similarly, a European Commission spokesman stated, “when the sanction is of such magnitude that it threatens the existence of an entire press group ... then freedom of the press is at stake.”55 Then European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn observed, “if a tax fine is worth the annual turnover of the company, it is quite a strong sanction, and it may not only be a fiscal sanction but also it feels like a political sanction.”56 Several international press and human rights groups raised questions about the fine. The International Press Institute’s director said, “the timing and unprecedented size of this tax fine raise serious concerns that the authorities are changing their approach from rhetoric to using the state apparatus to harass the media…. (T)he aim is not to punish the tax irregularity, but to liquidate the largest media group in the country.”57 Erdogan responded, “freedom of the press cannot be used as a means to shade smearing and slander.”58 Dogan newspapers have since made personnel changes and they, and other media, have muted their criticism of the government, although the case remains in the courts, which have upheld some of the fines. A chilling effect on freedom of the press may be at play. 54 The case involved a dispute concerning the date that Dogan sold a percentage of its television holdings to a German company. Dogan maintains that the sale occurred on January 2, 2007, while the Finance Ministry claims that it was done in 2006 and that the government is owed taxes that were evaded, plus a penalty charge. Yusuf Kanli, “Whose Turn will be Next?” Hurriyet Daily News.com, February 21, 2009. 55 “EU Slams Turkey over Media Group Fine,” Agence France Presse, September 11, 2009. 56 Stephen Castle and Sebnem Arsu, “Europeans Criticize Turkey over Threats to Media Freedom,” New York Times, October 15, 2009. 57 International Press Institute, Press Release, February 20, 2009, BBC Monitoring Media, February 23, 2009. 58 BBC Monitoring, “Turkish Dogan Group Tax Penalty Termed ‘Assault’ on Media Freedom,” February 23, 2009, OSC Document GMP20090223950045. Congressional Research Service 20 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Concern about constraints on freedom of expression also has been voiced about internet censorship in Turkey. Authorities have banned some 5,000 websites for “inappropriate content.” The video-sharing site YouTube has been banned since 2008 for illegally broadcasting videos defaming Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and several Google services were banned in June 2010, provoking protests in Istanbul. The government has defended its actions as a way to prevent distribution of pornography and a response to tax delinquency. Reporters Sans Frontiers classifies Turkey with less democratic regimes, such as Russia, United Arab Emirates, and Eritrea, when it comes to internet censorship.59 As with the press, the larger issue involved is that of increasing government control over access to information from varied sources. Fethullah Gulen Movement60 A somewhat enigmatic force on the domestic political scene and one supportive of the AKP is the Fethullah Gulen Movement (or Community). Fethullah Gulen, called hocaefendi (master), was born in a village in Erzurum Province in eastern Turkey in 1941 and gained a popular following while an imam on the government payroll in Edirne and Izmir in the west. Gulen is a student of the ideas of Said Nursi (1876-1960), whose message was in part that “Muslims should not reject modernity, but find inspiration in the sacred texts to engage with it.”61 Nursi opposed violence, appreciated globalization, and encouraged interfaith dialogue.62 He founded the Sufi Nurcu tariqat (Followers of Light religious order).63 The Nurcu fragmented after Nursi’s death, and Gulen founded his own cemaat or Islamic group. Gulen’s philosophy added a theme of nationalism to Nursi’s ideas. One analyst suggests that “Gulen’s goals are simultaneously to Islamize the Turkish nationalist ideology and to Turkify Islam. He hopes to reestablish the link between religion and the state that existed in the Ottoman era, when leaders were expected to live their lives based on Islamic regulations. Such an approach, he argues, would strengthen the state, and protect society by widening the state’s base of legitimacy.”64 However, Gulen does not favor making seriat (Islamic law) state law. In the 1980s, the Gulen Movement became a nationwide phenomenon. In the aftermath of the military’s ouster of the Islamist Refah (Welfare) Party-led government in 1997, authorities brought charges against Fethullah Gulen for “working to overthrow the secular government in Turkey” even though Gulen had publicly supported the military’s actions against Refah. At the time, Gulen was in the United States for medical treatment. He was acquitted in 2006 and the acquittal was upheld in 2008. However, Gulen has not returned to Turkey. He 59 Cinar Kiper, “Roundup: Turks Start to Organize Against Internet Censorship,” Xinhua News Agency, July 17, 2010. Fethullah Gulen websites include http://en.fgulen.com. and http://www.fethullahgulen.org. For an outsider’s overview, see Bill Park, “The Fethullah Gulen Movement,” Middle East Review of International Affairs,” Vol. 12, No. 4, December 2008. 61 “Fethullah Gulen Promotes a Modern Islam,” Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service, January 18, 2008. 60 62 Ahmet T. Kuru, “Globalization and the Diversification of Islamic Movements: Three Turkish Cases,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 120, Iss. 2, Summer 2006. 63 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk officially outlawed tariqats after founding the modern Turkish Republic. They remain outlawed today, but survived and Turkish leaders have been linked to them. For example, former President Turgut Ozal was known to be a Nakshibandi and Prime Minister Erdogan attended a seminary run by Nakshibandis. 64 Bulent Aras and Omer Caha, “Fethullah Gulen and his Liberal ‘Turkish Islam’ Movement,” Middle East News Online, January 5, 2001. Congressional Research Service 21 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power sought permanent residence in the United States. In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security denied his application as an educator, maintaining that he “is primarily the leader of a large and influential religious and political movement with immense commercial holdings.”65 Gulen won an appeal and became a permanent U.S. resident in 2008. He resides in Saylorsburg, PA, in the Pocono Mountains. Gulen’s public message has evolved over the years to include a call for greater religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue.66 He personally met Turkey’s chief rabbi, the Armenian and Greek Orthodox Patriarchs, and Pope John Paul II. Today, the Fethullah Gulen Movement is a vast grassroots movement. It controls a network of schools around the world, including some in the United States; universities; banks with more than $5 billion in assets; non-governmental organizations; and newspapers, magazines, and television networks in Turkey and other countries. 67 Its wealth is based on these sources and on generous donations from members, who are from the new middle class that has developed since the 1980s. One analyst has described it as “the most powerful movement right now (in Turkey)…. The point where they are today scares me. There is no other movement to balance them in society.”68 The movement’s main voice in Turkey is the Zaman newspaper, which enjoys the largest circulation in the country, and its English-language sister Today’s Zaman. Since 1988, its Foundation of Journalists and Writers has organized annual Abant Platform discussions of the relations between Islam and modernity. The movement is present in the Washington, DC, area with a U.S. office of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists trade association, schools, and probably other organizations whose affiliation is publicly clouded. Gulenists have not sought power directly. Yet, before he went into exile, Gulen reportedly advised his followers to “move into the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers.”69 In August 2010, he asserted, “we are still at an equal distance from every party. We never told anybody to enroll in a specific (party), attend its rallies or act as its supporters.”70 However, Gulen encouraged support for the AKP’s effort to amend the constitution in the September 12, 2010, referendum, maintaining that he was praising the work rather than those who had achieved it.71 Also, members of the movement have assisted the rise of the AKP government, which some suggest depends upon them because of their resources and education. 72 Gulenists have benefited greatly from the AKP’s emphasis on the free market and trade. They have supported the AKP financially and in their media since the 2002 election and, in 65 Joe Lauria, “Confrontation at Sea: Reclusive Imam, Influential in Turkey, Criticizes Flotilla Aid Effort,” Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2010. 66 For more on this theme, see Zaki Saritoprak, Sidney Griffith, “Fethullah Gulen and the ‘People of the Book’: A Voice from Turkey for Interfaith Dialogue,” The Muslim World, Vol. 95, Iss. 3, July 2006. 67 “Gulen Movement: Turkey’s Third Power,” Islamic Affairs Analyst, jiaa.janes.com, February 2009. 68 Alexandra Hudson, “Turkish Islamic Preacher—Threat or Benefactor,” Reuters, May 14, 2008, quoting Hakan Yavuz. 69 Bulent Aliriza, “Turkey’s Changing Dynamics,” Turkey Update, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Turkey Project, March 31, 2009. 70 “Gulen Endorses Reform Package, Appealing for ‘Yes’ on Sept. 12,” Today’s Zaman Online August 1, 2010. 71 “Gulen Says His Call for Yes Vote not Linked to Political Motives,” Today’s Zaman Online, August 25, 2010. 72 M. Hakan Yavuz and Nihat Ali Ozcan, “Crisis in Turkey: The Conflict of Political Languages,” Middle East Policy, Vol. XIV, No. 3, Fall 2007. Congressional Research Service 22 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power exchange, Gulen members and supporters have been appointed to the judiciary and bureaucracy, including the police and especially the domestic intelligence wing of the police. 73 Gulenist champions emphasize their master’s public statements about the importance of democracy and its compatibility with Islam, his opposition to anti-Western feelings, and his condemnation of the 9/11 attacks.74 Gulen criticized the organizers of the controversial May 2010 flotilla seeking to bring aid to the Gaza Strip for not seeking Israel’s permission. (The flotilla is known for a violent confrontation between passengers/activists on a Turkish ship and Israeli special forces.) The Turkish group associated with the flotilla reportedly has ties to the Felicity Party (SP), a direct descendant of the Refah Party, with which Gulen disagreed in the 1990s. So his position may have more to do with domestic Islamist political competition than with the flotilla per se, although it is in line with his advocacy of limiting tensions. Critics charge that the Fethullah Gulen Movement is the force behind the Ergenekon investigation and other anti-military campaigns, seeking revenge against those who had prosecuted Fethullah Gulen. If true, this would contrast sharply with the benign public image that Gulenists have cultivated over the years. As noted above, Gulenists reportedly play a major role in the police and in its intelligence bodies. Leaked documents related to the investigations are publicized in Zaman newspapers, known for their anti-military line. Columnists harshly criticize and even threaten those who question the veracity of the Ergenekon affair, the benefits of AKP rule, or who shine a contrarian light on the movement. The excesses of his followers, which belie a commitment to tolerance, probably are not attributable to Gulen himself. Other critics suggest that the movement’s understanding of democracy is narrow in that it sometimes focuses on religious freedoms such as the right to wear headscarves and attend universities after graduating from theological high schools, while also advocating stifling of some free speech. (See disparagement of perceived opponents immediately above.) They warn “naïve” Westerners not to be beguiled by the Gulenists.75 Rusen Cakir, an astute observer of Turkish religious movements, describes the Gulen movement as another “deep state.”76 Future Political Possibilities In April 2010, Prime Minister Erdogan stated that he favored a presidential system, and it has long been believed that he has ambitions to be the first directly elected president of Turkey. President Gul’s term in office ends either in 2012 or 2014. The uncertainty is due to his election when the system still called for a seven-year term, before passage of a constitutional amendment allowing for direct election of the president for a five-year term. It is not known which criterion will apply to his tenure. Should AKP win the next national election that must be held by July 73 In summer 2010, a controversial new, best-selling, memoir (not available in English) by Hanefi Avci, a career police officer and former Chief of Police in Eskisehir Province, alleged that the Gulen Movement has infiltrated the police, gendarmerie, National Intelligence Organization (MIT), judiciary, and other government departments and have conducted comprehensive wiretapping. It also charges that they are leading investigations in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases. 74 Kuru, op. cit. 75 Eldar Mamedov, “Fethullah Gulen Movement—a View from Brussels.” Hurriyet Daily News.com, May 28, 2010.” 76 “Former Turkish Police Chief’s Book Receives Conflicting Reactions in Media,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, August 30, 2010. Congressional Research Service 23 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power 2011, it is assumed that the party will move to change the political system to a presidential one via a new constitution, and that Erdogan would want the post and an election in 2012. Given that eventuality, President Gul is not expected to insist on a seven-year term, and he might then return to parliament as prime minister. Much of the above scenario depends upon AKP winning sufficient seats in the next national election to form another single party government that could change the political system. However, the opposition is actively working to prevent that from happening. After a sex scandal forced the resignation of CHP leader Deniz Baykal in May 2010, a CHP convention elected Kemal Kilicdaroglu as the new party chairman. Kilicdaroglu, who is known for his personal integrity, had made an impressive showing in the election for mayor of Istanbul in 2009 with a campaign that sounded strong anti-corruption, anti-poverty themes, even though AKP won the post. On assuming the CHP leadership, he announced a revived social democratic agenda, sympathized with coal miners who had recently experienced a disaster, toned down the party’s strident secularism that some viewed as anti-religion, pledged to avoid ethnic and cultural politics, and sharply attacked Erdogan. Kilicdaroglu announced his support for lowering the threshold to enter parliament and limiting parliamentary immunity—both changes have been long considered democratizing imperatives. In July, the CHP submitted a bill to lower the threshold from 10% to 7%. (AKP and MHP are considered likely to oppose the measure, as it would benefit BDP or its successor.) It would not take effect until after the next national election if passed. Kilicdaroglu has called for a new constitution “in line with the EU norms, that is based on the principle of separation of powers, that guarantees the independence of the media,” etc.77 For added measure, Kilicdaroglu refreshed the CHP by replacing about three-quarters of the 80member party assembly and removing the most strident ultranationalists, who were close associates of Baykal. Moreover, Kilicdaroglu hails from Tunceli, in the east, which may enable the party to gain some votes outside of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, to which it has been limited in recent elections. Kilicdaroglu asserts that (PKK) terrorism is caused by economic problems and that the alleviation of poverty and unemployment would marginalize it. In line with his party’s established nationalism, which he has not abandoned, he opposes use of Kurdish as a language of education. 78 Kilicdaroglu says that he refrains from using the word “Kurdish” in order not to separate people by ethnic identity. Instead, he prefers to refer to an “eastern” or “southeastern” issue.79 In contrast to his predecessor, the new CHP leader met the prime minister to explore ways of cooperating in the fight against terror. At the meeting he brought up lowering the threshold to enter parliament, abolishing special courts, and developing the southeast. He declared that, “as long as there are sound and reasonable policies,” CHP will support the government on the terrorism issue. 80 Kilicdaroglu has not expressed many foreign policy views. He is committed to Turkey’s EU accession and applauds the EU process for its potential to advance Turkey’s democracy, 77 “Kilicdaroglu Talks to Radikal,” interview, July 1, 2010, OSC Document GMP20100701744003. Interview with Zekai Ozcinar and Habib Guler, “Turkey has to End Era of Military Intervention, says New CHP Leader,” Today’s Zaman online, June 13, 2010. 79 “Turkey’s Route Should be Toward EU, Says Kilicdaroglu,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, June 11, 2010. 80 Selahattin Sonmez, “Opposition Leader Urges Turkish PM to Improve Living Conditions in Southeast,” Hurriyet Daily News.com, July 15, 2010. 78 Congressional Research Service 24 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power freedoms, and human rights. Yet, he also states that Turkey would accomplish all that with or without membership and opposes “a special preoccupation about EU entry or rejection.” He has criticized the government for drifting away from the values of the West, such as democracy, human rights, and laws, which have been the model for Turkey up to now, and called on it to explain the reasons for the blockages in the EU process. He has not stated views on relations with the United States. Therefore, it is not known if CHP will finally abandon its propensity for antiAmericanism, such as conspiracy theories that blame America for everything bad that occurs in and affects Turkey. While it may be too early to announce the CHP’s revival, such a development is considered more possible now than under Baykal. Kilicdaroglu suffered a defeat in the September 12 constitutional referendum vote; he adopted the unsuccessful tactic of attacking Erdogan personally during the campaign. Nevertheless, as noted, the party increased its share of the vote from the 2009 municipal elections without expanding its geographic base. The outlook remains uncertain. Other parties also are endeavoring to make their mark. These include the Democrat Party, a melding of former rivals True Path Party and Motherland Party, in which Mehmet Ali Bayar, a former diplomat in Washington, is a major player. However, DP’s outlook probably is far less optimistic than CHP’s. Some of the opposition parties may compete for the same constituencies, which may limit their prospects of ousting AKP. Many analysts believe that AKP still will come in first in the next national election and that it gained momentum from the referendum vote. Given that a week is a lifetime in politics and the elections are months away, it is not at all certain if the party would again win a sufficient plurality to enable it to form a single party government, as it had after the last two national elections. Instead, it might be forced into a coalition with one or more other parties. Alternatively, opposition parties might win a plurality through their combined vote totals and be able to form a coalition without the AKP. AKP’s confidence may be shaken, and its achievement of ambitions to change Turkey’s political system and ability to modify its secular identity would be limited if it is forced to take on a coalition partner. A government of opposition parties would have a different agenda, while probably seeking to advance Turkey’s democracy in ways different than the AKP. The opposition is strongly nationalistic and self identifies first as Turks, not as Muslims as do many in the AKP. This might reassure currently besieged secularists, but not Kurds, whose struggle seems destined to continue whoever is in charge of the next government. Overall Assessment One assessment that AKP’s critics sometimes offer concludes that the abortive attempt to ban the AKP and 2007 national election resulted in strengthening the AKP’s hold on power and its ability to weaken its actual and perceived opponents. President Gul’s exercise of his power of appointment extended the party’s sway to the educational establishment. Ergenekon and other alleged coup plot investigations have been vehicles for an assault on the military and the media, among others, and the methods used in the probes have instilled fear in the ranks of the opposition. AKP supporters have taken over much of the media, while the government’s lawsuits against other elements have cowed some critics. Meanwhile, the party derives considerable assistance from the financial and media support of followers of Fethullah Gulen. The AKP’s attempt to burnish its democratic credentials and stanch terrorism with a Kurdish initiative has not borne fruit, and it has had to revive the military option to deal with PKK violence. Analysts Congressional Research Service 25 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power increasingly doubt the party’s commitment to democratic values and worry that the more authoritarian tendencies of its leader may come to dominate. Several developments may mitigate this judgment. The 2009 municipal elections may be a harbinger of the renewal of the political opposition. They had the immediate effect of producing changes in the cabinet, such as the replacement of the minister of education, that may constrain some of the government’s more Islamist propensities. Moreover, Kilicdaroglu’s assumption of CHP leadership may make it possible for a combination of opposition parties to force the formation of a coalition government either with AKP in the lead or without AKP’s participation. Before then, because the government failed to gain sufficient votes in parliament to ram through its constitutional changes, it was forced into a referendum or popular vote to obtain its goals. In addition, the Constitutional Court, in annulling some provisions of proposed amendments, may have delayed the AKP’s realization of its ambitions to gain control over the judiciary. Finally, regardless of how achieved, the military’s restraint may signal that its interference with civilian rule has finally ended and that Turkey’s democracy, while still flawed, is maturing. In other words, the situation may be more complex than the doomsday projections of AKP’s harshest critics. U.S. Policy The overall U.S. policy toward Turkey has been largely determined by the United States’ need and appreciation for Turkey as a strategic partner and NATO ally. Because of these priorities and the traditional and inordinate role of the military in Turkey, the armed forces commanders had long been considered primary interlocutors of U.S. policymakers—both civilian and military. Since the AKP came to power, and especially since 2003, U.S. administrations have dealt more with civilian counterparts, and the Turkish military has become the counterpart only of the U.S. military. Despite the AKP-dominated parliament’s refusal in March 2003 to allow U.S. troops to use Turkish territory to open a northern front against Iraq, the George W. Bush Administration nonetheless valued Turkey as a predominantly Muslim secular democracy that might provide political inspiration for other Muslim countries in the context of its war on terror perpetrated by radical Islamists. It also appreciated what was then Turkey’s willingness to cultivate good relations with Israel in contrast to other Muslim governments. Therefore, the Bush Administration had a vested interest in the continuation of Turkey’s democracy and political stability and did not want a military coup there. The Administration adopted a stance of studied neutrality toward the Turkish domestic political crisis resulting from the closure case against the AKP. On April 15, 2008, then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “we believe and hope that this will be decided within Turkey’s democratic context and by its secular democratic principles.”81 Her spokesman stated, “we are strong supporters of democracy in Turkey and we have faith in Turkish democracy. But ultimately, these questions about politics and religion and different social values are going to have to be ones that are resolved within the context of Turkish law, politics, and their Constitution.” However, the constitution that Administration officials referred to was drafted under the supervision of a military junta and accepted in a 1982 referendum without opposition. Nonetheless, the Administration continued to emphasize democracy in Turkey, even as it 81 At American Turkish Council meeting in Washington, D.C., April 15, 2008. Congressional Research Service 26 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power appeared to mute that theme for other Muslim majority countries due to the increasing popularity of fundamentalist parties. Rice also remarked about enjoying an excellent relationship with the AKP government. Yet, the Bush Administration did not satisfy any group in Turkey. The AKP’s advocates sought stronger opposition to the possible banning of a party that had won a decisive election. They believed that the EU’s threat to suspend membership talks if the AKP were banned was more in line with democratic principles. Others observed that the EU had to take a stronger stand and had more clout because Turkey is a candidate for membership. On the other hand, secularists believed that the Bush Administration brought the AKP to power, supported it as a model for Muslim democracies, and wanted it to continue in office. They were suspicious of any positive comment U.S. officials might make about the party. Shortly after it took office, the Obama Administration signaled its appreciation for the importance of U.S. relations with Turkey. In March 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Turkey and heralded it as an extraordinary example for the world because it showed that “democracy, modernity, secularism, and Islam could all coexist.”82 The Secretary stated that the United States and Turkey shared “a commitment to democracy, a secular constitution, religious freedoms, a free market economy, and a sense of global responsibility.”83 Clinton announced a forthcoming visit by President Obama and said that it showed the importance of the Administration’s relations with Turkey. Turkish officials appreciated the compliment that President Obama paid to their country by visiting on his first overseas trip, and they were open to improving bilateral relations. They singled out the President’s opposition to the war in Iraq and willingness to engage Syria and Iran as indicators of a change in Washington. While in Turkey, the President stated that “Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a majority Christian and a majority Muslim nation, a Western nation … can create a modern international community.”84 (Italics added.) The phrase pleased Turkish leaders immensely. In March 2010, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon concluded remarks on U.S.-Turkish relations by commenting briefly on Turkey’s domestic political scene. 85 He urged care with regard to press freedoms and closure cases and alluded to the Ergenekon prosecutions. Gordon stated, “media freedom is one of the bedrocks of a democratic society and no actions should be taken that appear to undermine the ability of the press to do its vital job…. (I)t is important that investigations or court proceedings, especially on politically sensitive cases, must be open and fully respect Turkish law…. (I)n a democracy, political parties should not fear being closed down.” Gordon’s comments were not as severe as the State Department’s 2009 report on human rights practices in Turkey, released a week earlier.86 Yet, this 82 “U.S. Secretary of State Attends Talk Show on Turkish TV,” Anatolia, March 8, 2009, OSC Document GMP20090308788003. 83 Joint news conference by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in Ankara, March 7, 2009, NTV, OSC Document GMP20090307744001. 84 “Turkish, US Presidents Answer Questions on Bilateral Ties, Armenian Issue,” NTV, April 8, 2009, OSC Document GMP20090406744020. 85 “The United States and Turkey: The View from the Obama Administration,” accessible at http://www.brookings.edu. 86 The Report, released on March 11, stated outright, “The government limited freedom of expression through the use of constitutional restrictions and numerous laws and through the application of tax fines against media conglomerates.” Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/20-09/eur/136062.htm. Congressional Research Service 27 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power part of his speech drew few comments in Turkey, and one journalist wondered, “how many people in total in Washington and Ankara give a damn about Phil Gordon’s words?”87 After the September 12 referendum on constitutional amendments, President Obama telephoned Prime Minister Erdogan to “acknowledge the vibrancy of Turkey’s democracy.”88 The State Department added “hope that through these reforms, it will further enhance Turkey’s democratic processes and human rights protection.” There has been increasing anxiety in Washington that the AKP’s consolidation of its position domestically may be enabling a more assertive and independent foreign policy, favoring some Muslim states and groups, that may challenge U.S. policymakers. In the spring of 2010, a spate of events may have spurred some reassessment of bilateral relations. Those events include Turkey’s championship of an international flotilla to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.89 The flotilla effort produced a confrontation between Israeli special forces and passengers/activists on a Turkish ship, resulting in the deaths of eight Turks and one Turkish-American. In addition, it produced a barrage of unsparing, inflammatory rhetoric from Prime Minister Erdogan and other Turkish officials that some suggested had anti-Semitic tones.90 Erdogan also claimed that Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is a democratically elected political organization, and not a terrorist group, and that it is needed for a successful peace process. This position contradicts U.S. policy, which lists Hamas as a State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). At the same time, Turkey has continued to cultivate close relations with Iran and Syria. Washington does not view Turkey’s neighbors with the same rose-colored glasses as Ankara, due to their nuclear ambitions, support for terrorist groups, and animosity toward Israel, among other suspicions. Turkish-Iranian relations and their progress in recent years are of special interest in Washington.91 Turkey appeared to undermine U.S. policy toward Iran on May 17, 2010, when Foreign Minister Davutoglu and his Brazilian counterpart reached an agreement with Iran, called the Tehran Declaration, for an exchange of uranium to take place in Turkey. Davutoglu and other officials claimed that they had closely followed U.S. guidance. However, the Obama Administration maintained that the declaration was based on parameters developed in fall 2009 that Iran’s continuing uranium enrichment had rendered obsolete and appeared to believe that the TurkishBrazilian effort aimed at undermining a harder approach toward Iran that the United States and others had been developing. This may well have been the Turkish intent, as the government feared that Turkey, a close neighbor of Iran, would be most harmed by sanctions, citing past experience with sanctions against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Thus, on the heels of the declaration, Turkey voted in the U.N. Security Council against the imposition of new sanctions on Iran for failing to ensure the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. In doing so, it voted against a consensus of the international community and its partners in NATO, including the United States, 87 Asli Aydintasbas, “Loveless Marriage in Washington,” Milliyet Online, March 18, 2010, OSC Document GMO20100318016005. 88 Marc Champion, Joe Park Inson, “Turkey Votes to Change Constitution,” Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2010. 89 For more on this, see CRS Report R41275, Israel’s Blockade of Gaza, the Mavi Marmara Incident, and Its Aftermath, by Carol Migdalovitz. 90 Erdogan expressed understanding for those who compared the Zionist (sic) star to the swastika. Adem Kadam, “Prime Minister in Konya,” Anatolia, June 4, 2010, OSC Document GMP20100608734014. 91 For background on Turkish-Iranian relations prior to these recent developments, see the chapter on Turkey in CRS Report R40849, Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy, coordinated by Casey L. Addis. Congressional Research Service 28 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power which had pushed for the sanctions. Its failure to join its allies or at least to abstain appeared to indicate that the AKP valued its relationship with Iran more than ties with the West. The dimensions of foreign policy developments will be addressed in another report, but they may have implications for how the Obama Administration views and deals with the AKP government and Prime Minister Erdogan and how they may be endeavoring to alter Turkey’s foundational identity via the consolidation of power domestically. It is not yet certain that they are bent on implementing a fundamental change in Turkey’s historic direction toward the West. Congress has begun to assess the change and express its concern about that prospect, as seen in July 28, 2010, hearings of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 92 That oversight is likely to continue. Although Turkey has not been a major recipient of U.S. foreign assistance for many years, Members may express their views on events in resolutions and other legislation. Both branches of government will be scrutinizing the results of the constitutional referendum and of the national elections, which must be held by July 2011, for their possible effects. 92 For hearing transcript, see http://foreignaffairs.house.gove/111/transcripts.pdf. Congressional Research Service 29 Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power Table 2. Basic Facts Population 77.8 million (July 2010 est.) Ethnic Groups 70%-75% Turkish 18% Kurdish 7%-12% other (2008 est.) Religion 99.8% Muslim (80%-85% Sunni, 15%-20% Alevi) 2% other (mainly Christians and Jews) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) real growth rate -5.8% (2009 est.) GDP per capita $11,200 (2009 est.) Unemployment 14.1% (2009 est.) Underemployment 4% (2008 est.) Inflation 6.3% (2009 est.) Current Account Deficit $13.96 billion (2009 est.) External Debt $274 billion (December 31, 2009) Exports apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures, transport equipment Export Partners Germany, France, UK, Italy, Iraq (2009) Imports machinery, chemicals, semifinished goods, fuels, transport equipment Import Partners Russia, Germany, China, U.S. Italy (2009) Source: Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, September 2, 2010. Author Contact Information Carol Migdalovitz Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs cmigdalovitz@crs.loc.gov, 7-2667 Congressional Research Service 30Background and U.S. Relations Summary Congress has an active role to play in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey, and several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests. This report provides background information on Turkey and discusses possible policy options for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration. U.S. relations with Turkey—a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally—have evolved over time as global challenges to U.S. interests have changed. Turkey’s economic dynamism and geopolitical importance—it straddles Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia and now has the world’s 16th-largest economy—have increased its influence regionally and globally. Although Turkey still depends on the United States and other NATO allies for political and strategic support, growing economic diversification and military self-reliance allows Turkey to exercise greater leverage with the West. These trends have helped fuel continuing Turkish political transformation led in the past decade by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamist roots. Future domestic political developments may determine how Turkey reconciles respect for democratic views that favor Turkish nationalism and traditional Sunni Muslim values with protection of individual freedoms, minority rights, rule of law, and the principle of secular governance. Debate on issues such as the status of Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish population, the civilmilitary balance, the role of religion in public life, and heightened concern over press freedom could coalesce in 2012 around a proposal for a new constitution. Congressional interest in Turkey is high with respect to the following issues: • Addressing ongoing change in the Middle East by coordinating policies and using Turkey’s regional example to influence political outcomes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere; counter Iranian influence; and preserve stability; • The decline in Israel-Turkey relations and how that might affect U.S.-Turkey defense cooperation, including arms sales to counter the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization; and • A potential congressional resolution or presidential statement on the possible genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey’s predecessor state) during World War I. Many U.S. policymakers also are interested in the rights of minority Christian communities within Turkey; the currently stalemated prospects of Turkish accession to the European Union (EU); promoting increased trade with Turkey; and Turkey’s role in the Cyprus dispute, especially given tensions in late 2011 over offshore gas drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean. Congress annually appropriates less than $10 million in military and security assistance for Turkey. The EU currently provides over $1 billion to Turkey annually in pre-accession financial and technical assistance. In 2011, U.S.-Turkey cooperation on issues affecting the Middle East became closer, partly because Turkey agreed to host a U.S. radar as part of a NATO missile defense system. Nevertheless, developments during the Obama Administration—including Erdogan’s downgrading of relations with Israel—have led to questions about the extent to which U.S. and Turkish strategic priorities and values converge on both a short- and long-term basis. Issues on which congressional action could affect future cooperation one way or another include the possible sale of drone aircraft to Turkey to counter the PKK and a potential Armenian genocide resolution. Congressional Research Service Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Contents Introduction and Issues for Congress............................................................................................... 1 Background and Domestic Political Issues...................................................................................... 6 Historical Overview................................................................................................................... 6 Changes to the Kemalist Order.................................................................................................. 6 In the Past Decade............................................................................................................... 6 In Historical and Societal Context....................................................................................... 7 Fethullah Gulen Movement................................................................................................. 8 Economy and Trade................................................................................................................... 9 Major Minority Groups ........................................................................................................... 10 Kurds ................................................................................................................................. 10 Alevis ................................................................................................................................ 11 A New Constitution? ............................................................................................................... 12 Minority Religious Rights ....................................................................................................... 13 Foreign Policy on Matters of U.S. Interest .................................................................................... 14 The “Turkish Model” and Regional Stance............................................................................. 14 Israel ........................................................................................................................................ 16 Syria......................................................................................................................................... 18 Iran and NATO Missile Defense ............................................................................................. 20 Iraq and the PKK ..................................................................................................................... 21 Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean.................................................................................... 22 Armenia ................................................................................................................................... 23 Afghanistan.............................................................................................................................. 23 Regional Energy Issues ........................................................................................................... 24 Turkey as a Transit Corridor and Potential Source............................................................ 24 Nuclear Energy.................................................................................................................. 25 Turkey and the European Union.............................................................................................. 26 Other International Relationships............................................................................................ 27 U.S.-Turkey Relations ................................................................................................................... 28 Overview ................................................................................................................................. 28 Bilateral and NATO Defense Cooperation .............................................................................. 30 Possible U.S. Policy Options ......................................................................................................... 32 Influencing Regional Change and Promoting Stability ........................................................... 32 Arms Sales and Military/Security Assistance.......................................................................... 33 Possible Armenian Genocide................................................................................................... 34 Bilateral Trade Promotion ....................................................................................................... 35 Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 36 Figures Figure 1. Turkey and Its Neighbors ................................................................................................. 5 Figure 2. Major Pipelines Traversing Turkey and Possible Nuclear Power Plants........................ 25 Figure 3. Map of U.S. and NATO Military Presence and Transport Routes in Turkey ................. 31 Congressional Research Service Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Tables Table 1. Turkey in Brief................................................................................................................... 3 Table 2. Parties in Turkey’s Parliament ......................................................................................... 12 Table 3. PKK Designations by U.S. Government.......................................................................... 21 Table 4. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Turkey................................................................................... 31 Table 5. U.S. Merchandise Trade with Turkey .............................................................................. 35 Appendixes Appendix A. Profiles of Key Figures in Turkey ............................................................................ 38 Appendix B. List of Selected Turkish-Related Organizations in the United States....................... 41 Appendix C. Congressional Committee Reports of Armenian Genocide-Related Proposed Resolutions ................................................................................................................................. 42 Contacts Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 42 Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 42 Congressional Research Service Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Introduction and Issues for Congress Turkey has been an important ally for the United States since the Cold War era. As global challenges to U.S. interests have changed over time, U.S. relations with Turkey have evolved. During that time, Turkey has experienced fundamental internal change—particularly the economic empowerment of a middle class from its Anatolian heartland that emphasizes traditional Sunni Muslim values. This change has helped fuel continuing political transformation led in the past decade by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul, and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (all of whom are profiled in Appendix A) from the Islamicleaning Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish acronym, AKP, or Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi). For decades, the Turkish republic relied upon its military, judiciary, and other bastions of its “secular elite” to protect it from political and ideological extremes—sacrificing at least some of its democratic vitality in the process. Through a series of elections, popular referenda, court decisions and other political developments within the existing constitutional order, Turkey has changed into a more civilian-led system that increasingly reflects the new middle class’s dedication to market economics and conservative values. Turkey’s internal transformation has at least partly driven increased engagement and influence within its own region and the Muslim world, where its leaders have aspired to a foreign policy of “zero problems.” At the same time, its leaders have tried to maintain Turkey’s traditional alliances and economic partnerships with Western nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), routinely asserting that Turkey’s location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and its increasing soft power provides it and its allies with “strategic depth.” Thus, the geopolitical importance of Turkey for the United States in a postSeptember 11, 2011, world is now intertwined with its importance as a regional partner and symbol—politically, culturally, economically, and religiously. Congressional interest in Turkey is high with respect to the following issues and questions: • Addressing Regional Change in the Greater Middle East: Will Turkey’s policies and actions be reconcilable with U.S. interests in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Afghanistan with regard to political and financial support for populations, opposition movements, and transitional governments; existing and potential future sanctions against autocratic regimes; internationally mandated humanitarian and/or military action that includes or may include the use of Turkish bases or territory; and limiting Iranian influence? • Israel and U.S.-Turkey Defense Cooperation: Will increasing tensions in TurkeyIsrael relations hamper U.S. efforts at regional security coordination? Should these tensions affect congressional views generally on Turkey’s status as a U.S. ally and/or specifically on sales of weapons—particularly those such as drone aircraft that involve highly sensitive technology—that Turkey seeks to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK, or Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan), a U.S.designated Foreign Terrorist Organization? • Armenian Genocide Resolution: What are the arguments for and against a potential U.S. congressional resolution or presidential statement characterizing World War I-era deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians through actions of Ottoman Empire (Turkey’s predecessor state) authorities as genocide, Congressional Research Service 1 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations including considerations of how such a resolution would affect U.S.-Turkey relations and defense cooperation? • Rights of Non-Muslim Minority Religions: What is Congress’s proper role in promoting the rights of established Christian and Jewish communities and religious leaderships and their associated foundations within Turkey to choose leaders, train clergy, own property, and otherwise function independent of the Turkish government? As of January 2012, there are 131 Members of Congress in the Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans.1 Congress appropriates relatively small amounts of military and security assistance for Turkey compared with past sums—approximately $8 million in FY2011, with less than $6 million requested by the Obama Administration for FY2012. The Administration does not currently request, nor does Congress appropriate, Economic Support Fund assistance for Turkey—perhaps partly owing to the over $1 billion in pre-accession financial and technical assistance Turkey receives from the European Union (EU). Many U.S. policymakers also are interested in the currently stalemated prospects of Turkish accession to the EU; promoting increased trade with Turkey; and Turkey’s role in the Cyprus dispute, especially given tensions in late 2011 over offshore gas drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean. Domestic Turkish political developments, possibly including a new constitution in 2012, seem likely to affect the country’s civil-military balance, its debate on religion in public life, the status of its Kurdish and other minorities, and heightened concerns about press and civil society freedoms, which are in turn likely to determine who shapes Turkey’s foreign policy and how they conduct it. Turkey’s continued regional influence could depend on its maintaining the robust economic growth from its past decade that has led to its having the world’s 16th-largest economy. 1 Figure provided by officials of the Turkish Embassy to the United States, December 2011. Congressional Research Service 2 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Gauging how U.S. and Turkish interests coincide has become increasingly complicated and dynamic. In 2011, U.S.-Turkish closeness on issues affecting the Middle East increased because • Turkish leaders perceive a need for U.S. help to encourage regional democratic transition while countering actors with the potential to undermine internal Turkish and regional Table 1. Turkey in Brief stability—including the Iranian Population: 78,785,548 (July 2011 est.) and Syrian regimes and terrorists from its own ethnic Kurdish Area: 783,562 sq km (302,535 sq. mi., slightly larger than Texas) population; and • The United States may be more dependent on its alliance with Turkey because the end of its military mission in Iraq and other possible future reductions in its Middle East footprint probably give Turkey greater influence over developments in Iraq and other parts of the region whose stability is of critical U.S. interest. Most Populous Cities: Istanbul 11.2 mil., Ankara 4.1 mil., Izmir 3.2 mil., Bursa 2.0 mil., Adana 1.6 mil. (2007 est.) Ethnic Groups: Turks 70%-75%; Kurds 18%; Other minorities 7%-12% (2008 est.) Religion: Muslim 99.8% (Sunni 75%88%, Alevi 12%-25%), Others (mainly Christian and Jewish) 0.2% Literacy: 87% (male 95%, female 80%) (2004 est.)2 These factors have led to frequent highlevel U.S.-Turkey consultation on developments in Syria, Libya, and the broader region. In addition, U.S. officials reportedly interpreted Turkey’s agreement in September 2011 to host a U.S. early warning radar as part of a NATO missile defense system for Europe as a critical sign of Turkey’s interest in continued strategic cooperation with Washington.4 During the previous year, some U.S. and European policymakers and analysts had voiced concern about Turkey’s reliability as a bilateral and NATO ally owing to its active opposition to United Nations sanctions against Iran % of Population 14 or Younger: 26.6% (2011 est.)3 GDP Per Capita: $10,624 (2011 est.) Real GDP Growth: 7.5% (2011 est.) Inflation: 6.2% (2011 est.) Unemployment: 8.8% (2011 est.) External Debt as % of GDP: 43% (2011 est.) Current Account (Trade) Deficit as % of GDP: 9.8% (2011 est.) Sources: Turkish Ministry of Economy, OECD Economic Outlook, Economist Intelligence Unit, Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, Turkish Statistics Institute 2 Literacy rates in Turkey are higher than those of other large Muslim-majority countries. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook says that Egypt has a 71.4% total literacy rate, with only 59.4% of its women able to read and write, while Iran has a literacy rate of 77%, with 70.4% of women able to read and write. 3 The youth population is considerably higher in Turkey than in countries in the EU, which Turkey aspires to join. 4 The probability that information collected from the radar would be coordinated as necessary with another U.S. missile defense radar deployed in Israel has led to public statements of concern from Turkish officials and media, while some Members of Congress have insisted that sharing information for Israel’s potential defense should be a condition of the radar’s placement in Turkey. The text of a September 19, 2011, letter to President Barack Obama from six Senators on this subject is available at http://kirk.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=299. Congressional Research Service 3 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations for its nuclear program and its deteriorating relationship with and criticism of Israel—particularly in the wake of the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident that resulted in the death of eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin. Short-term fluctuations in the U.S.-Turkey relationship could become the norm as greater fluidity in domestic, regional, and global developments leads both actors to more frequently reassess their circumstances and positions vis-à-vis each other and significant third party actors. The two countries’ acceptance of this situation might lead to shared longer-term views regarding mutual interests that facilitate broad strategic cooperation, or to more limited expectations regarding the conditions and timing under which they might make common cause. Congressional Research Service 4 Figure 1. Turkey and Its Neighbors Source: CRS Graphics. CRS-5 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Background and Domestic Political Issues Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, a number of developments have transformed Turkey and its relationship with the United States. Per capita income has more than tripled (from approximately $3,000 to over $10,000) in the past decade. Economic dynamism and Turkey’s geopolitical importance—straddling Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia—have increased its influence regionally and globally. Although Turkey still depends on the United States and other NATO allies for political and strategic support, growing economic diversification and military ties with non-NATO countries have contributed to greater Turkish leverage with the West. A number of internal and external developments have contributed to political changes, most notably the rise of the AKP and the dwindling capacity of the military and other bulwarks of Turkey’s traditional secular elite to counter the initiatives of elected government representatives. Over the past decade, Prime Minister Erdogan has consolidated the AKP’s hold on power. Historical Overview Starting with the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, state officials self-consciously sought to define Turkey as a secular state patterning itself after the West politically, legally, socially, economically, and militarily. The military was the ultimate protector of a Kemalist order that included state control of religion; discontinuing the use of Arabic script in favor of the Latin alphabet; discouraging Islamic modes of dress; and actively promoting literacy, education, and employment among men and women of all classes and backgrounds. Changes to the Kemalist Order In the Past Decade That the old order is changing is clearly manifested by the political mandate enjoyed for the past decade by the AKP, which has Islamist roots. These changes have gained greater attention and momentum through failed attempts (or purported attempts) by elements within the military, the judiciary, the opposition Republican People’s Party (known by its Turkish acronym, CHP, or Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi), and others within the Turkish secular elite to thwart the AKP on key issues. Major AKP victories in the face of domestic pressure included: 5 • the 2007 election within parliament of the AKP’s Abdullah Gul (a former prime minister and foreign minister) as Turkey’s president; • alleged unsuccessful plots to undermine or overthrow the government; • the unsuccessful 2008 Constitutional Court case attempting to ban and dissolve the AKP; and • the September 2010 passage of amendments to the 1982 military-backed constitution in a nationwide referendum, increasing military and judicial accountability to civilian and democratic institutions.5 “Balance of power,” Economist, October 21, 2010. Congressional Research Service 6 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Additionally, in July 2011, on the eve of the annual Turkish Supreme Military Council meetings to discuss promotions and retirements, the chief of the Turkish General Staff (TGS), Isik Kosaner, resigned simultaneously with the generals who commanded the Turkish land, naval, and air forces. According to most reports and Kosaner’s account, the resignations were connected with the generals’ concern about the government’s detention or passing over of several high-ranking officers. Civilian leaders opposed rewarding officers allegedly involved in plots purportedly hatched within the military in the early 2000s (called “Ergenekon” and “Sledgehammer”) to overthrow or undermine the AKP government. Many analysts have portrayed Kosaner’s resignation and his subsequent replacement by Necdet Ozel, previously the commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie, as an indication that domestic power has shifted decisively to civilian government leaders, who are now able to appoint more deferential and constrained military leaders.6 In January 2012, Turkish authorities took the unprecedented step of arresting former TGS Chief Ilker Basbug in connection with the Ergenekon case. One Turkish analyst was quoted as saying in reaction, “The fact that prosecutors are now touching senior generals is a turning point in the democratization process of Turkey.”7 In Historical and Societal Context The changes to the old order did not materialize suddenly with the AKP’s rise to power. They reflect long-standing dynamics in Turkish politics and society that continue to evolve within Turkey’s existing constitutional framework. Popular desires to allow greater public space for traditional Islamic-oriented lifestyles and societal participation manifested themselves politically as early as the 1950s during the rule of Turkey’s first democratically elected leader, Adnan Menderes. Menderes was eventually overthrown by a military-led coup in 1960 (and subsequently hanged), and the military continued to discourage the overt influence of religion in politics, intervening again in 1971 and 1980 to replace governments that it deemed had lost control of the country or had steered it away from secularism or toward ideological extremes. The military allowed Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs (later Prime Minister and President) Turgut Ozal to begin liberalizing the traditionally statist Turkish economy following its restoration of internal order in 1980. This helped set in motion a chain of events leading to the economic and political empowerment of millions of Turks hailing from traditional communities removed from Turkey’s more secular urban centers. Subsequent social and political developments reflected accommodation of this rising middle class—many of whom migrated to bigger cities— and their values. For example, imam hatip religious schools, initially established for young males seeking clerical careers, became widely attended by youth from religiously conservative families.8 In 1997, Turkey’s first-ever Islamist-led coalition government was compelled to resign by the military, but junior members of the coalition-leading Refah (Welfare) Party went on to form the AKP,9 which they characterize as a center-right reformist party without an Islamist agenda. 6 Gareth Jenkins, “Ergenekon, Sledgehammer, and the Politics of Turkish Justice: Conspiracies and Coincidences,” MERIA Journal, vol. 15, no. 2, June 2011; Soli Ozel, “Military Resignations: Crisis or New Beginning?”, German Marshall Fund of the United States, August 3, 2011. 7 “Former Turkish armed forces chief ordered held for trial,” Reuters, January 6, 2011. 8 According to Reuters, an estimated one third of the AKP’s parliamentary members in 2010, including Prime Minister Erdogan, attended imam hatip schools. Simon Akam, “A ‘model’ Islamic education from Turkey?”, Reuters, February 23, 2010. 9 AKP members generally use the acronym “AK Party” or “AK,” partly because the Turkish word ak means “clean” (continued...) Congressional Research Service 7 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Popular discontent with coalition rule stemming from a 1999-2001 economic and financial crisis and perceptions of government corruption and ineffectiveness opened the way for the AKP to achieve single-party rule with its first election victory in 2002. Since the AKP came to power, the military has reportedly become less scrutinizing of its rising officers’ religious backgrounds and views, taxes and regulations on the consumption of alcohol have increased, and the wearing of headscarves by women in universities and other public places has gained legal and social acceptance. Domestic and international observers have raised concerns about the AKP government’s respect for civil liberties.10 Although infringement upon press freedom is of routine concern in Turkey, recent measures taken by authorities have been criticized inside and outside of Turkey as unusually severe and ideologically driven.11 These measures include multiple arrests of journalists and multi-billion-dollar tax fraud penalties against the country’s largest pro-secularist media firm (the Dogan Group).12 Concerns about press freedom exist against the backdrop of ongoing criminal investigations into the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases discussed above. Many in the media claim that even if some of the anti-government plots were real, authorities with pro-AKP leanings or sympathies for the Fethullah Gulen movement (discussed below) have used the allegations to silence or weaken political and ideological opponents.13 Concerns about AKP overreach reflect anxieties among some Turks that, with the weakening of the military and other guardians of the Kemalist order, it is unclear to what extent effective checks and balances exist on Erdogan’s charismatic and Islamic-friendly single-party rule. Fethullah Gulen Movement The Fethullah Gulen movement (or community) became a nationwide grassroots movement in the 1980s as part of the emergence of the new conservative Turkish middle class. Its societal rise has roughly paralleled the AKP’s political rise, and Gulen-inspired businesses, media enterprises, and civil society organizations now exercise considerable influence in Turkey.14 The movement is comprised of adherents of Turkish imam Fethullah Gulen, who is now a permanent U.S. (...continued) and “unblemished,” thus presenting an image of incorruptibility. 10 For examples, see the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2010. 11 During her July 2011 visit to Turkey, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to these measures by saying, “I do not think it is necessary or in Turkey’s interests to be cracking down. It seems to me inconsistent with all the other advances Turkey has made.” “Clinton says Turkey must address concerns on backsliding on rights,” Associated Press, July 16, 2011. 12 Some of the penalties against the Dogan Group have been reversed on appeal to Turkish courts, while others remain under appeal. 13 One widely discussed case involves the April 2011 arrest of Ahmet Sik and Nedem Sener, two prominent investigative journalists who were charged with involvement in the Ergenekon plots. Sik was reportedly close to finishing a book whose title translates as The Imam’s Army. The book is reportedly about the Gulen movement’s alleged infiltration of the Turkish police over the past 25 years. Several observers believe that the detentions of Sik and Sener were motivated by a desire to silence them rather than legitimate evidence of their criminal involvement. Jurgen Gottschlich, “Arrested Journalist’s Book Claims Turkish Police Infiltrated by Islamic Movement,” Spiegel Online, April 6, 2011. 14 For example, Gulenists run Zaman, the most widely circulated newspaper in Turkey, and its English-language sister publication Today’s Zaman. Congressional Research Service 8 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations resident,15 and who insists that he is neutral as to political parties and leaders in Turkey.16 Gulen preaches a distinctly Turkish brand of Islam that condemns terrorism17 and can function in concert with secular democratic mechanisms and modern economic and technological modes of living. Gulenist-affiliated organizations also maintain a presence in the United States18 and other regions worldwide. The parallel rise of the AKP and the Gulen movement has unsettled many pro-secularist Turks who detect greater ideological bias within Turkish state and civil society institutions and who are concerned about the potential for imposition of Islamic norms and suppression of dissent. Other observers see the AKP’s and Gulenists’ emergence as an authentic and even necessary development in Turkey’s democratic evolution because of their views’ representativeness of large segments of the population. This, in these observers’ view, provides a counterbalance to Turkish secularist ideology that in the past had been rigidly enforced and inculcated. Economy and Trade The AKP’s political successes have been aided considerably by robust Turkish economic growth that was set back only briefly as a result of the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. Growth rates, fueled by diversified Turkish conglomerates such as Sabanci and Koc as well as “Anatolian tigers” (small- to medium-sized, export-oriented businesses concentrated in central and southern Turkey), have been comparable in the past decade to those of China, India, and other major developing economies. According to the Turkish Ministry of Economy, Turkey’s construction industry, with extensive projects domestically as well as in Russia, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Africa, was listed by Engineering News Record in 2010 as second only to China’s in the number of projects undertaken worldwide.19 Its dependence on foreign investment and exports could bring on future challenges from a potential economic slowdown in the European Union—Turkey’s main trading partner. 15 Gulen lives in seclusion at a retreat center with some of his adherents in Saylorsburg, PA, in the Pocono Mountains. He came to the United States in 1999 for medical treatment for a cardiovascular condition, and elected to stay after an ultimately unsuccessful case was brought against him in Turkey charging that he sought to undermine Turkey’s secular government. 16 Gulen asserted in August 2010 that “we are still at an equal distance from every party. We never told anybody to enroll in a specific [party], attend its rallies or act as its supporters.” “Gulen Endorses Reform Package, Appealing for ‘Yes’ on Sept. 12,” Today’s Zaman, August 1, 2010. He has backed AKP-proposed constitutional amendments, but distinguished his support for the substance of the initiatives from support for the party or individual leaders that had proposed them. “Gulen Says His Call for Yes Vote Not Linked to Political Motives,” Today’s Zaman, August 25, 2010. 17 Days after the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011, Gulen took out advertisements in the New York Times and Washington Post condemning the attacks as incompatible with the teachings of Islam. 18 Gulenists are involved with Turkish and Turkish-American trade associations and foundations active in the United States—both regionally and in the Washington, DC, area. Such organizations reportedly include the Turkic American Alliance umbrella of organizations and the business confederation TUSKON. Ilhan Tanir, “The Gulen movement plays big in Washington,” Hurriyet Daily News, May 14, 2010; Helen Rose Ebaugh, The Gulen Movement: A Sociological Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam, New York: Springer, 2010, p. 49. Gulenist organizations also have reportedly founded and operate more than 120 public charter schools in over 25 U.S. states. These schools have generated publicity both for their high academic quality and for questions and possible federal investigations regarding their hiring and business practices. Stephanie Saul, “Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas,” New York Times, June 6, 2011; Martha Woodall and Claudio Gatti, “U.S. charter-school network with Turkish link draws federal attention,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 2011. 19 Turkish Economic Ministry correspondence with CRS, December 2011. Congressional Research Service 9 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecast from 2009 projected that Turkey’s economy would grow at the highest rate of any OECD member from 2011 to 2017, with projected average annual real GDP growth of 6.7%.20 However, a potential Europerelated slowdown could slow 2012 growth to between 2-4%. Recent monetary policy decisions by Turkey’s central bank to lower interest rates have limited foreign capital inflows and contributed to current consumer-spending-driven growth. They also have contributed to a depreciation in Turkey’s currency (the lira) that might help Turkey with its import-export balance, but also possibly fuel inflation,21 which Turkey seeks to control through relatively conservative fiscal policies and banking practices. Major Turkish exports include textiles, foodstuffs, iron and steel, and machinery; while major imports include chemicals, fuels, and semi-finished goods. Structural economic goals for Turkey include incentivizing greater research and development to encourage Turkish technological innovation and global competitiveness, harmonizing the educational system with future workforce needs, and increasing and diversifying energy supplies to meet ever-growing consumption demands. The European Union is Turkey’s main trading partner by far, while the United States is Turkey’s fourth-largest trading partner (behind the EU, Russia, and China—see “Bilateral Trade Promotion” below). Though Turkish pursuit of new markets since 1991 has reduced trade with both the EU (from nearly 50% to just over 40%) and the United States (from over 9% to under 5%) as a percentage of Turkey’s total trade, overall trade volume with both continues to increase. Over the same period, trade with Russia as a percentage of Turkey’s total trade has more than doubled—from 5% to over 11%—largely due to energy imports. China’s share of Turkish trade is also increasing, with volume reportedly rising from $1 billion per year to $24 billion per year in the past decade.22 Iran (as discussed below) is—like Russia—a major source of Turkish energy. Turkey’s importance as a regional energy transport corridor (see “Turkey as a Transit Corridor and Potential Source” below) elevates Turkey’s increasing relevance for world energy markets while also providing Turkey with opportunities to satisfy its own growing domestic energy needs.23 Additionally, Turkey has actively pursued economic opportunities with many Arab Middle Eastern countries in recent years through free trade and no-visa agreements. As political upheaval in the region continues, it could contribute to future challenges to Turkish economic growth and foreign investment. Major Minority Groups Kurds Ethnic Kurds constitute 15%-20% of Turkey’s population, and are concentrated in urban areas and the relatively impoverished southeastern region of the country. Kurdish reluctance to recognize Turkish state authority—a dynamic that also exists between Kurds and national governments in Iraq, Iran, and Syria—and harsh Turkish measures to quell claims of Kurdish identity have fed tensions that have periodically worsened since the foundation of the republic in 20 OECD Economic Outlook No. 86, November 2009. “TEXT-Fitch revises Turkey’s outlook to stable,” Reuters, November 23, 2011. 22 Gokhan Bacik, “Envisioning the Asia-Pacific Century: Turkey between the United States and China,” On Turkey, German Marshall Fund of the United States, December 8, 2011. 23 Transatlantic Academy, Getting to Zero: Turkey, Its Neighbors, and the West, June 2010, citing Turkish government statistics. 21 Congressional Research Service 10 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations 1923. Since 1984, the Turkish military has waged an off-and-on struggle to put down a separatist insurgency and urban terrorism campaign by the PKK (whose founder, Abdullah Ocalan, is profiled in Appendix A).24 This struggle was most intense during the 1990s, but resumed after a lull in 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The PKK uses safe havens in northern Iraq to coordinate and launch attacks, and according to the U.S. government partially finances its activities through criminal activities, including its operation of a Europe-wide drug trafficking network.25 The initially secessionist demands of the PKK have since evolved to a less ambitious goal of greater cultural and political autonomy. The Turkish military’s approach to neutralizing the PKK has been routinely criticized by Western governments and human rights organizations for being overly hard on ethnic Kurds—thousands have been imprisoned for PKK involvement or sympathies and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Turkey’s AKP government—which has a sizeable constituency in rural Kurdish areas because of its appeal to traditional values—has acknowledged that the integration of Kurds into Turkish society will require political, cultural, and economic development approaches in addition to the more traditional security-based approach. By appealing to common Islamic identity, Erdogan and other government ministers have moved away from the state’s traditional unwillingness to acknowledge the multiethnic nature of Turkey’s citizenry. Thus far, however, government statements or efforts aimed at giving greater rights to Kurds and greater normalized status to Kurdish nationalist leaders and former militants have been politically undermined by upswings in PKK attacks and public manifestations of Kurdish nationalist pride. The government has adopted some measures allowing greater use of Kurdish languages in education, election campaigns, and the media. Kurdish nationalist leaders demand that any future changes to Turkey’s constitution not suppress Kurdish ethnic and linguistic identity. They also seek to modify the electoral law to allow for greater Kurdish nationalist participation in Turkish politics by lowering the percentagevote threshold (currently 10%) for political parties in parliament.26 Alevis Most Muslims in Turkey are Sunni, but 10 million to 20 million are Alevis (of whom about 20% are ethnic Kurds). The Alevi sect of Islam is an offshoot of Shiism27 that contains strands from pre-Islamic Anatolian traditions. Alevism has been traditionally influenced by Sufi mysticism that emphasizes believers’ individual spiritual paths, but it defies precise description owing to its lack of centralized leadership and reliance on oral traditions historically kept secret from outsiders. Alevis have long been among the strongest supporters of Turkey’s secular state, which they perceive as their protector from the Sunni majority. 24 In Footnote 2 of a September 2011 report, the International Crisis Group stated that Turkish government figures estimate that 11,700 Turks have been killed since fighting began in the early 1980s. This figure includes Turkish security personnel of various types and Turkish civilians (including Turkish Kurds who are judged not to have been PKK combatants). The same report states that Turkish estimates of PKK dead during the same time period run from 30,000 to 40,000. International Crisis Group, Turkey: Ending the PKK Insurgency, Europe Report No. 213, September 20, 2011. 25 U.S. Treasury Department Press Release, “Five PKK Leaders Designated Narcotics Traffickers,” April 20, 2011. 26 In the 2011 election, 61 members of the Kurdish nationalist Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) ran as independents for individual geographic constituencies because of a calculation that the party would not reach the 10% threshold. These independents won 36 of the constituencies and 6% of the national vote. 27 For information comparing and contrasting Sunnism and Shiism, see CRS Report RS21745, Islam: Sunnis and Shiites, by Christopher M. Blanchard; and CRS Report WVB00001, Sunni and Shi'a Islam: Video Brief, by Christopher M. Blanchard. Congressional Research Service 11 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations A New Constitution? The AKP has proposed that a new constitution replace the one imposed by the military in 1982. Most observers expect that a new constitution would more firmly place the state’s governing mechanisms—including the executive, military, judiciary, Supreme Electoral Council, Council of Higher Education, and Supreme Board of Radio and Television—under democratic civilian control. Other possible changes include greater emphasis on individual rights and greater delegation of authority to provincial and local officials. It is unclear whether furthering civilian control in an era of AKP dominance is compatible with the goal of strengthening Turkish civil liberties and decentralizing state power. Future debate over a new constitution and its implementation might include discussion of the potential merits and drawbacks of single-party rule and robust executive power. Do Turks prefer a system that is more subject to the personal direction of popular leaders, or one that might sacrifice some expediency of action in favor of greater consensus across party and ideological lines? This debate could be shaped by Turkey’s economic outlook and its citizens’ concerns about potential national security threats. Although the AKP’s June 2011 electoral victory provided it with a significant mandate and nearly 50% of the vote, its inability to garner a 60% supermajority in Turkey’s unicameral parliament (the Turkish Grand National Assembly) has led most analysts to conclude that the AKP will need to find opposition support for its constitutional proposals. The need for consensus has dimmed the prospect that Erdogan could use the constitutional reform process to vest greater power in the presidency—an office that he may seek near the end of his current term as prime minister. A Constitutional Reconciliation Commission including all four parties represented in parliament—the AKP, the secular-leaning CHP, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), and the Kurdish nationalist Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)—was formed in late 2011, led by Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Cicek, who has stated his goal of having a new constitution approved by popular referendum by the end of 2012. Analysts debate whether Erdogan will seek to redefine himself as a more consensus-oriented politician in the debate over constitutional reform, or whether he will try to establish his preferences by applying greater political pressure on his opponents if significant disagreements arise. Table 2. Parties in Turkey’s Parliament (Based on national elections held in June 2011) Party June 2011 Pct Vote Members of Parliament General Orientation Justice and Development Party (AKP) Leader: Recep Tayyip Erdogan 49.8% 326 Economic liberalism, social conservatism Republican People’s Party (CHP) Leader: Kemal Kilicdaroglu 26.0% 135 Social democracy, pro-secular Nationalist Action Party (MHP) Leader: Devlet Bahceli 13.0% 53 Nationalism Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Leader: Selahattin Demirtas 6.6%a 36 Ethnic Kurdish interests, social democracy Source: Supreme Electoral Board of Turkey, Parties and Elections in Europe Website a. This is the percentage vote figure for the 61 BDP members who ran in the election as independents for individual geographic constituencies, as described in footnote 26. Congressional Research Service 12 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations BDP support for constitutional proposals that address the questions of Kurdish civil, linguistic, and cultural rights and local autonomy could become particularly important in light of increases in PKK violence and Turkish reprisals following the June election, as discussed above. The first clause of Article 3 of the 1982 constitution reads, “The Turkish state, with its territory and nation, is an indivisible entity. Its language is Turkish.” Because the constitution states that its first three articles are unamendable, even proposing a change could face judicial obstacles. Some observers believe that recent arrests of prominent BDP members and other Kurdish nationalist political activists, as well as a December 2011 Turkish air strike that mistakenly killed 35 civilians,28 might be souring the atmosphere for constitutional compromise. The AKP government maintains that a new constitution will advance democratization and help the country meet criteria for EU membership. In one European observer’s analysis of constitutional changes, however, “European integration and democratization [in Turkey] are increasingly hostage to the struggle for power among the elites”: the “not-so-new” AKP ruling elite and the “remnants of the so-called Kemalist establishment.”29 Minority Religious Rights While U.S. constitutional law prohibits the excessive entanglement of the government with religion, republican Turkey has maintained secularism by controlling or closely overseeing religious activities in the country—partly in order to counter the openly Islamic nature of previous centuries of Ottoman rule. Sunni Muslims, although not monolithic in their views on freedom of worship, have better recourse than other religious adherents to the democratic process for accommodation of their views because of their majority status. Minority Muslim sects (most prominently, the Alevis) and non-Muslim religions largely depend on legal appeals, political advocacy, and outside support from Western countries to protect their rights in Turkey. U.S. and congressional concerns focus on the rights of established Christian and Jewish communities and religious leaderships and their associated foundations and organizations within Turkey to choose leaders, train clergy, own property, and otherwise function independently of the Turkish government.30 Grievances are routinely expressed by Members of Congress through proposed congressional resolutions and through letters to the President and to Turkish leaders on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual center of Orthodox Christianity based in Istanbul.31 On December 13, 2011, for example, the House passed H.Res. 306—“Urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties”—by voice vote.32 28 Ayla Albayrak, “Turkey’s Erdogan Promises Probe of Airstrike,” wsj.com, December 30, 2011. Emiliano Alessandri, “Democratization and Europeanization in Turkey After the September 12 Referendum,” Insight Turkey, vol. 12, no. 4, fall 2010. 30 The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has included Turkey on its watch list since 2009. The commission’s website carries its 2011 annual report (covering April 2010-March 2011). See also the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for July-December 2010, September 13, 2011. 31 The Patriarchate traces its roots to the Apostle Andrew. The most commonly articulated congressional grievances on behalf of the Patriarchate—whose ecumenicity is not acknowledged by the Turkish government, but also not objected to when acknowledged by others—are the non-operation of the Halki Theological School on Heybeliada Island near Istanbul, the requirement that the Patriarch be a Turkish citizen, and the failure of the Turkish government to return previously confiscated properties. 32 H.Res. 306 was sponsored by Representative Edward Royce. Other proposed resolutions from the 112th Congress (continued...) 29 Congressional Research Service 13 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations During the early years of the Turkish Republic, the state began confiscating the properties of religious groups as part of its efforts to control religious life in the country. In late August 2011, Prime Minister Erdogan announced that Turkey would return properties confiscated since the adoption of a 1936 law governing religious foundations, to the extent the properties are still held publicly.33 Properties to be returned potentially include schools, orphanages, cemeteries, commercial properties, and hospitals affiliated with various Orthodox and Catholic churches and Turkey’s Jewish community. According to one report, “The government’s willingness to explore restitution does not yet cover the hundreds, if not thousands, of property seizures from individuals, or the takeovers that occurred before 1936. An even more contentious point is confiscation that occurred prior to the formation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923”.34 According to a U.S. diplomat based in Turkey, a Greek school in Istanbul was returned to a religious community association in November 2011, with more property returns expected in the near future pursuant to each organization’s application for return of applicable properties and the determination of the government’s General Directorate of Foundations.35 Prior to this decree, the European Court of Human Rights made multiple rulings requiring Turkey to pay compensation to various religious-affiliated organizations after earlier attempts by the government to remedy the situation did not satisfy the organizations. Foreign Policy on Matters of U.S. Interest The “Turkish Model” and Regional Stance As unrest and political change have occurred across much of the Arab Middle East since late 2010, Turkey might perceive that the United States has greater need of Turkish support in the region. Turkey exercises considerable regional influence given its military, economic, and political power—aided by its status as an established Muslim-majority democracy and its membership in NATO. Political activists in several countries facing leadership transitions or potential transitions— including Tunisia and Egypt—have cited Turkey as a potential model for their own political systems. This has raised questions among leaders and analysts about which aspects of Turkey’s system these activists seek to emulate—whether it is its outwardly secular mechanisms, its historical military guardianship, its economic vitality, its political system in which civilian leaders with Islamist leanings have exerted increasing power, or some combination of these. Arab interpretations of the “Turkish model” tend to emphasize the recent democratic and economic empowerment of Turkey’s middle class and the connection between this and Turkey’s (...continued) include H.Res. 180 (“Urging Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”), and S.Res. 196 (“A resolution calling upon the Government of Turkey to facilitate the reopening of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Theological School of Halki without condition or further delay”). 33 According to reports, the foundations would receive compensation for property since transferred to third parties. See Sebnum Arsu, “Turkish Government to Return Seized Property to Religious Minorities,” New York Times, August 29, 2011. 34 Dorian Jones, “Turkey: Making Room for Religious Minorities,” EurasiaNet.org, October 3, 2011. 35 CRS correspondence with U.S. diplomat based in Turkey, November 2011. Congressional Research Service 14 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations emergence as a regional power with a foreign policy independent of the West. Some Western views favor some notion of military guardianship of the state from disorder and ideological extremes (a model that many Westerners have historically equated with republican Turkey).36 While some in both the Arab world and the West suspect that Turkey’s government favors the rise of pro-democracy Islamist movements that emulate the AKP, Prime Minister Erdogan was criticized by North African Islamists during his September 2011 trip to Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya for voicing his support for secular democratic mechanisms. Many analysts and Turkish officials have stated that Turkey might more aptly be characterized as an inspiration than as a model because the historical experiences and characteristics of its people, society, and economic system are distinct from those in Arab countries.37 Within the context of ongoing regional change, Turkey has sought to balance its support for country-specific democratic reforms with its interests in overall stability. Turkish interests appear to be threefold: (1) It is the leading Muslim-majority democracy in the region with an interest in promoting its political values, (2) it has a significant economic stake in the region, and (3) it is concerned about the regional balance of power and possible spillover effects for its own security. Turkish leaders are particularly concerned about developments at or near its borders with Syria and Iraq, especially given Turkey’s own on-and-off struggles with Kurdish separatist militants who maintain safe havens in northern Iraq and who could be further strengthened by their fellow ethnic Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and Iran if those states’ governments are weakened. In 2011-2012, Turkey has shown greater openness to supporting U.S. and NATO goals in the region than it did prior to the widespread political change. One could argue that in the wake of the Iraq war, Turkey believed that U.S. intervention in the region had played a large part in creating or exacerbating political instabilities and sectarian tensions that fueled regional security threats, including the terrorist threat Turkey faces from the PKK. Some analysts postulated that Turkey’s opposition to U.N. sanctions against Iran and greater closeness with Iran, Syria, and Hamas were based on a belief in the superiority of a regional security order with more local and less U.S. and Western involvement. The changes of 2011 appear to have altered Turkey’s stance on this question. One of Turkey’s concerns is that region-wide unrest, especially in neighboring Syria, could endanger the political stability of the entire area and possibly jeopardize Turkey’s political and economic influence in the region. Turkish leaders also may have concluded that U.S. involvement—while perhaps not without risks—is desirable on balance in order to counter Iranian and possibly Syrian capacities and designs for capitalizing on regional uncertainty. This could at least partly account for Turkey’s agreement in September 2011 to host the missile defense radar discussed above, which is generally thought to be focused on defending against potential Iranian missile threats to Europe. After Turkish leaders were unable to use their supposedly close relations with the Asad regime in Syria and the Qadhafi regime in Libya to persuade either regime to address demands of protesting citizens and opposition groups, they accepted and to some extent adopted the U.S. and European approach of supporting opposition groups and sanctions against those regimes. 36 For a critique of viewpoints that favor a Turkey-like military-led transition in Egypt, see Steven Cook, “The Turkish Model for Egypt? Beware of False Analogies,” blogs.cfr.org, February 4, 2011. 37 Nathalie Tocci, Omer Taspinar, Henri Barkey, Eduard Soler i Lecha, and Hassan Nafaa, Turkey and the Arab Spring: Implications for Turkish Foreign Policy from a Transatlantic Perspective, German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2011; Sinan Ulgen, From Inspiration to Aspiration: Turkey in the New Middle East, Carnegie Europe, December 2011. Congressional Research Service 15 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations This change in approach by Prime Minister Erdogan seems consistent with his desire to project a regionally populist stance that is not viewed by Arab populations as siding with autocrats or entrenched commercial interests. Turkey may seek even greater U.S. help to maintain regional stability if unfolding events significantly disrupt its security or threaten Turkish trade or attraction of outside investment. However, as one Turkish analyst has written, interpreting Turkey’s changes in regional policy as signaling a fundamental shift toward greater closeness to the West may be overstating matters in the same way that Turkey’s supposed shift away from the West may have been overstated in earlier years: Turkey’s behavior is driven by the same objective as ever. Partnership with the West, at this current juncture, is a valuable instrument as long as it enhances Ankara’s ability to meet the new challenges and expands the room to maneuver, not because of its inherent value. The quest for strategic autonomy still instructs Turkish leaders’ thinking on international affairs, and is unlikely to disappear.38 Several observers noted in late 2011 that Turkey’s aspirations for a zero-problem foreign policy at its borders may be at an end given reversals in its relations with Syria and Iran. In this regard, two analysts from the International Crisis Group asserted that Turkey may be left with a foreign policy with no conceptual framework to unite its many contradictions: an unsustainable mix of alliance with the U.S. and confrontation with Israel; a social-economic model built on convergence with Europe but in which the EU negotiation process has stalled; idealistic enthusiasm for Muslim democrats but continued links to other authoritarian leaders; public displays of Muslim piety alongside support for secular constitutions; and bitter arguments with all those keen to capitalize on the above to cast doubt on Turkey’s role in the Middle East.39 Israel In the 1990s and early 2000s, Turkey and Israel enjoyed close military ties that fostered and reinforced cooperation in other areas, including a free trade agreement signed in 2000. In recent years, however, Turkey-Israel relations have worsened. This downturn can be attributed to a number of factors, including the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident (mentioned above) and TurkishIsraeli differences over Israel’s invasion of Hamas-controlled Gaza in December 2008. It also parallels the military’s declining role in Turkish society, and the greater empowerment of Prime Minister Erdogan and other AKP and national leaders who seem increasingly to believe that criticizing many of Israel’s policies is both merited and domestically popular. Turkey’s deteriorated relationship with Israel, which Erdogan may be emphasizing to some extent as part of his strategy to gather populist regional support, presents problems for the United States because of the U.S. desire to coordinate its regional policies with two of its closest allies. Although a lack of rapprochement may not render U.S. security coordination efforts impossible, it could have eventual repercussions for regional order and undermine the alignment of U.S. and 38 Saban Kardas, “Quest for Strategic Autonomy Continues, or How to Make Sense of Turkey’s ‘New Wave,’” On Turkey Analysis, German Marshall Fund of United States, November 28, 2011. 39 Hugh Pope and Peter Harling, “Are there ‘zero problems’ for Turkey?”, Daily Star (Lebanon), November 29, 2011. See also Steven Cook, “Turkey: From Zero Problems to Cok Problems,” blogs.cfr.org, November 14, 2011. Congressional Research Service 16 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Turkish interests elsewhere in the region. This could especially be the case if Turkey-Israel disagreements on Palestinian issues result in future high-profile incidents or if Turkey seeks to actively exclude Israel from regional security arrangements with Egypt or other countries. In September 2011, diplomatic efforts aimed at getting Israel to apologize to Turkey for the killing of eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin during the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident reportedly stalled due to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s concerns about the potential Israeli public reaction.40 When the report of the U.N. Secretary-General’s panel of inquiry on the incident—also known as the “Palmer Report”41—was leaked by the New York Times and other outlets, Turkey announced that it was downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel to the second secretary level—effectively expelling Israel’s ambassador to Turkey.42 It also suspended all Turkey-Israel military agreements. The countries’ bilateral free trade agreement remains in effect. Turkey continues to insist on both an apology and compensation from Israel for families of the Turkish fatalities in return for the possibility of normalization. It also seeks a lifting of the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Erdogan spoke of the possibility of having Turkish naval vessels accompany future aid flotillas to Gaza, but subsequently said that no plans for such voyages were imminent. Erdogan also speculated that international sanctions against Israel could be a source of leverage in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.43 Though Erdogan supports a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, he backs Palestinian pursuit of United Nations membership and Fatah-Hamas rapprochement as well. It is debatable whether an active U.S. brokering role would improve or worsen prospects for Turkey-Israel rapprochement and for future U.S. relations with both countries. In a December 2011 speech, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said: Like all of you, I’ve been deeply troubled by the direction of the Turkish-Israeli relationship. Turkey is a key NATO ally and has proven to be a real partner in our effort to support democratic change and stand against authoritarian regimes that use violence against their own people. It is in Israel’s interest, Turkey’s interest, and U.S. interest, for Israel to reconcile with Turkey. And both Turkey and Israel need to do more to put their relationship back on the right track.44 40 The deaths took place under disputed circumstances. The report is available at http://go.ynet.co.il/pic/news/Palmer-Committee-Final-report.pdf. The panel was chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and included former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and one participant each from Turkey and Israel. The report expressly provided that its findings were not intended to decide legal questions. Upon the report’s leak, Turkish officials disputed the report’s finding that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip was legal, notwithstanding the report’s criticism of Israel’s handling of the incident itself. 42 Turkey similarly downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel in 1980 following Israel’s enactment of a law on the status of Jerusalem that was deemed a violation of international law by U.N. Security Council Resolution 478. Resolution 478 passed on August 20, 1980 by a vote of 14-0, with the United States as the lone abstention. Turkey reinstated Israel’s ambassador in 1992 following the 1991 Madrid Conference that signaled the beginning of the Middle East peace process. Linda Gradstein, “No end in sight for downward spiral in Turkish-Israeli ties,” JTA, September 6, 2011. 43 Time magazine staff interview with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, globalspin.blogs.time.com, September 26, 2011. 44 Transcript of remarks by Secretary Panetta at Saban Forum, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, December 2, 2011, available at http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4937. 41 Congressional Research Service 17 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Many analysts have postulated that growing tension between Turkey and Israel could lead to increased congressional opposition to U.S. strategic cooperation with Turkey and perhaps to greater willingness to consider passing a so-called Armenian genocide resolution (see “Possible Armenian Genocide” below).45 Following the May 2010 flotilla incident, the Senate passed S.Res. 548 by voice vote on June 24, 2010. The resolution condemned the attack by the “extremists aboard the Mavi Marmara,” invoked Israel’s right to self-defense, and encouraged “the Government of Turkey to recognize the importance of continued strong relations with Israel and the necessity of closely scrutinizing organizations with potential ties to terrorist groups” (a reference to the Turkish Islamist non-governmental organization IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, the main organizer of the flotilla).46 In early 2011, a New York Times Magazine article quoted a Turkish diplomat responsible for U.S. relations as saying, “We’re getting a lot of flak from the Hill. We used to get hit by the Greek lobby and the Armenian lobby, but we were protected by the Jewish lobby. Now the Jewish lobby is coming after us as well.”47 Syria48 Before civil unrest broke out in Syria in March 2011, Turkey had cultivated close relations with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Asad by such means as holding joint military exercises, negotiating free trade and no-visa travel agreements, and mediating Syria’s indirect talks with Israel in 2008. When unrest began in Syria, Erdogan and other Turkish leaders urged Asad to respond by implementing significant political reforms. Asad’s failure to undertake serious reforms and his reliance on violent suppression of demonstrations and targeting of oppositionists led Erdogan to criticize Asad and his tactics with increasing intensity. Erdogan called on Asad to step down in November 2011, following attacks against Turkish diplomatic installations in Syria by pro-Asad demonstrators and against buses carrying Turkish pilgrims returning from Mecca by regime military forces at a security checkpoint. Foreign Minister Davutoglu subsequently announced multiple military, financial, and diplomatic sanctions against Asad’s regime.49 Turkish leaders reportedly consult frequently on Syria with President Obama and his top national security aides. Events in Syria have prompted Turkish officials to state that they consider the ongoing unrest a matter of internal Turkish concern, not simply a matter of international affairs. In June 2011, 45 “Turkey-Israel fallout threatens wider damage, say analysts,” Agence France Presse, September 2, 2011. In the House, Representative Dina Titus sponsored H.Res. 1532, which was not passed but garnered 23 co-sponsors. H.Res. 1532 would have called upon the Secretary of State to investigate the “role of any foreign governments, including the Republic of Turkey, which may have aided and abetted the organizers of the recent Gaza Flotilla mission to breach Israeli coastal security and assault the naval defense forces of the State of Israel.” 47 James Traub, “Turkey’s Rules,” New York Times Magazine, January 20, 2011. 48 For more information, see CRS Report RL33487, Unrest in Syria and U.S. Sanctions Against the Asad Regime, by Jeremy M. Sharp and Christopher M. Blanchard. 49 The initial sanctions announced included: (1) suspending the Turkey-Syria High Level Strategic Cooperation Council; (2) travel ban and asset freeze on leading regime officials and businessmen believed to be responsible for or supportive of violent repression of protests; (3) embargo on sales of weapons and military equipment; (4) preventing the transit of weapons/military equipment to Syria from third countries through Turkey; (5) halting dealings with Syria’s central bank; (6) freezing financial assets of Syrian government in Turkey; (7) halting lending relationships with Syrian government; (8) prohibiting new transactions with Syrian Trade Bank; and (9) suspending the Eximbank credit agreement, which had been intended for financing infrastructure projects in Syria. After Syria retaliated in December 2011 with its own sanctions, including suspending the Turkey-Syria free trade agreement and imposing a tariff (about 30%) and duties on Turkish imports, Turkey responded with a similar tariff on Syrian imports. 46 Congressional Research Service 18 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations security forces loyal to the Asad regime increasingly targeted alleged outposts of rebel sentiment and activity in northwest Syria near the Turkish border. As a result, over 20,000 refugees fled over the border into temporary camps maintained by Turkey. Over half of these returned to Syria, but additional refugee flows in late 2011 and early 2012 have brought the current number to approximately 9,200.50 Turkey also now serves as a base for exiled leaders in both the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The SNC aims to offer a clear political alternative to Asad for the international community, while the FSA is comprised of defectors from Syria’s security forces who may be seeking to lead an armed insurrection against the Asad regime. Turkish officials maintain that they do not support violent means of opposition. Turkey’s increasing embrace of the Syrian opposition while Asad remains in power entails risks for Turkey. It also could further antagonize Iran—with possible implications for regional developments in Iraq, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Some reports state that Turkish officials might consider using military means to establish and maintain a buffer zone in northern Syria under an international mandate supported by the Arab League and United Nations Security Council. A buffer zone—similar to the one Turkey established in northern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War— could provide a place of refuge for endangered Syrian citizens without involving Turkish territory. However, it also could be a staging area for defectors and oppositionists—possibly with future Turkish and other external assistance—to mount an armed campaign against the Asad regime, similar to the role eastern Libya played for the NATO-backed opposition forces that toppled the Qadhafi regime in 2011. When asked at a December 14, 2011, hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia to describe Turkey’s support for the Syrian opposition, Frederic Hof, Special Coordinator for Regional Affairs at the State Department, said: Turkey has provided shelter to the Free Syrian Army. What the Turks tell us, and we have no reason to disbelieve them, is that they are not arming these folks and sending them across into Syria. That is—that is their position. We have no reason to disbelieve it. I am sure that—that Turkey is examining many, many, many different options and contingencies right now, based on a variety of scenarios that—that could come up. I am not aware of any near-term plans, you know, to establish safe zones or whatever on Syrian territory. Some analysts have expressed concern that the AKP government’s potential influence with the SNC and FSA could exacerbate sectarian animus between Syria’s majority Sunnis and ruling minority Alawites. They also worry it could skew the relative influence of various groups within the Syrian opposition in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and to the detriment of Syrian Kurds. Reports indicate that Asad might possibly be seeking to placate Syrian Kurds’ opposition to his regime while simultaneously encouraging PKK terrorist activity in Turkey by granting Kurds greater autonomy in Syria’s northeast.51 50 Ipek Yezdani, “More Syrian refugees come to Hatay camps,” Hurriyet Daily News, January 7, 2012. See, e.g., Samia Nakhoul, “Analysis: Turkey and allies want Syria’s Assad out, just not yet,” Reuters, December 16, 2011; Phil Sands, “Assad: friend or foe of the Kurds?”, The National (United Arab Emirates), January 4, 2012. 51 Congressional Research Service 19 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Iran and NATO Missile Defense In September 2011, Turkey agreed to host a U.S. forward-deployed early warning radar at the Kurecik base near the eastern Turkish city of Malatya as part of a NATO-approved missile defense system that most analysts believe is intended to counter potential ballistic missile threats to Europe from Iran.52 A senior U.S. Administration official called this agreement “probably the biggest strategic decision between the United States and Turkey in the past 15 or 20 years.”53 Some Iranian officials, after initially expressing displeasure with Turkey’s decision, have stated that Iran would target the radar in Turkey in the event of a U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iran. CNN reported in January 2012 that a Turkish foreign ministry official announced that the radar has been activated.54 The decision to host the missile defense radar was made within the context of a region with shifting dynamics. Differing Iranian and Turkish interests in the region have led to increased competition for influence over developments in Iraq and Syria, and for the admiration of Arab populations on issues such as championing the Palestinian cause. Turkey’s renewed closeness with the United States has further fueled Turkey-Iran tensions at a time when the Obama Administration is continuing its efforts to isolate Iran because of its nuclear program and its support for various actors seen as destabilizing forces in the region. Yet, Turkish officials continue to stress the importance of good relations with Iran and meet regularly with Iranian counterparts, in the interests of maintaining stability and trade, and also to keep open the possibility of mediating the international impasse on Iran’s nuclear program. Following some reports that Iran might be assisting the PKK, Iran and Turkey publicly committed in October 2011 to cooperating against the PKK and the Iranian Kurdish separatist organization Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) that also maintains safe havens in northern Iraq. Turkey has stated that it will comply with the U.N. sanctions against Iran that it voted against in 2010 (as opposed to U.S. and EU sanctions, which are not binding on it). Turkish officials still plan to boost trade with Iran from approximately $15 billion to $30 billion a year by 2015. Iran accounts for at least 30% of Turkey’s oil imports. To safeguard its energy trade with Iran, reports indicate that Turkey, along with other countries such as Japan and South Korea, may be seeking an exemption from the Obama Administration from U.S. sanctions enacted at the end of 2011 under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-81).55 These sanctions, which target financial institutions that deal with Iran’s central bank and are seen as aimed at Iran’s oil export business, might otherwise apply to oil import transactions involving the major Turkish refinery Tupras and Turkish public lenders.56 52 The proposed elements of the European Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense proposed by the Obama Administration and a deployment timeline are described in a September 17, 2009, White House press release available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/FACT-SHEET-US-Missile-Defense-Policy-A-Phased-Adaptive- Approach-for-Missile-Defense-in-Europe/. See also CRS Report R41549, Missile Defense and NATO’s Lisbon Summit, by Steven A. Hildreth and Carl Ek. 53 Thom Shanker, “U.S. Hails Deal with Turkey on Missile Shield,” New York Times, September 15, 2011. 54 “Part of NATO missile defense system goes live in Turkey,” CNN, January 16, 2012. 55 Per section 1245 of P.L. 112-81, these sanctions do not apply to a financial institution if the President determines and reports to Congress that the institution’s primary country of jurisdiction has significantly reduced oil imports from Iran, or if the President waives the sanctions for national security reasons. 56 Taylan Bilgic, “Iran sanctions bode ill for Turkey’s economy,” Hurriyet Daily News, January 6, 2012. Congressional Research Service 20 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Iraq and the PKK Turkey cooperated with the United States in the 1991 Gulf War and following the U.S.-led 2003 Iraq invasion, but the Turkish parliamentary decision in 2003 not to allow U.S. forces to use its territory to open a northern front significantly affected U.S.-Turkey relations. The decision showed the United States that in its strategic relationship with Turkey, it could no longer rely solely on past legacies of cooperation and its close ties with the Turkish military.57 Starting in late 2007, U.S. willingness to provide greater counterterrorism support to Turkey in its struggle against the PKK helped move U.S.-Turkey priorities in Iraq toward greater alignment. For Turkey, strong governance and stability in Iraq is important particularly due to Turkish interests in denying the PKK use of Iraqi territory for its safe havens; discouraging the crossborder spread of Kurdish separatist sentiment; countering Iranian influence; and accessing Iraq’s potentially lucrative export markets and ample energy resources (which could eventually lessen Turkey’s dependence on Iranian and Russian energy imports). U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed appreciation for Turkey’s constructive role in post-conflict Iraq, with which it has growing trade and where it has improved relations with the Kurdish Regional Government. Turkey’s role in Iraq is likely to become more significant in light of the U.S. military mission’s transition in Iraq to a civilian security assistance mission at the end of 2011. Clashes between Turkish forces and the PKK Table 3. PKK Designations by U.S. intensified following Turkish national elections Government in June 2011. The PKK’s renewed resort to violence might be motivated by a number of Designation Year factors, including the example of insurgencies Foreign Terrorist 1997 in Arab countries throughout the region, a Organization desire to take advantage of the fluidity of the regional turmoil, and a hope to gain greater Specially Designated 2001 Global Terrorist support for Kurdish rights in the domestic political and constitutional debate among Significant Foreign 2008 Turkish lawmakers and citizens. The PKK and Narcotics Trafficker individuals and groups believed to be affiliated with it have carried out multiple attacks on both military and civilian targets. As a result, Turkey has increased air and artillery attacks on PKK safe havens in Iraq, aided by intelligence-sharing from the United States, and has reportedly involved ground forces across the border as well. Given its military drawdown from Iraq, the United States is now reportedly basing the unarmed Predator drone aircraft that it uses to gather intelligence on the PKK at Turkey’s Incirlik air base.58 Other reports indicate that Prime Minister Erdogan has reiterated Turkey’s desire to purchase drones (including some with armed capability) from the United States for its own use. Such purchases would likely require congressional notification (see “Arms Sales and Military/Security Assistance” below).59 57 For further information, see CRS Report R41761, Turkey-U.S. Defense Cooperation: Prospects and Challenges, by Jim Zanotti. 58 “US deployed Predators to Incirlik: Davutoglu,” Hurriyet Daily News, November 13, 2011. According to Secretary of Defense Panetta, the Iraqi government has given the United States permission to keep flying Predator drones on surveillance missions over northern Iraq. Craig Whitlock, “U.S. drones allowed in Iraqi skies,” washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington, December 16, 2011. 59 “Procurement, Turkey,” Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment - Eastern Mediterranean, December 16, 2010; “US(continued...) Congressional Research Service 21 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean60 Since Cyprus became independent of the United Kingdom in 1960, Turkey has viewed itself and has acted as the protector of the island’s ethnic Turkish minority out of concerns over its treatment by the ethnic Greek majority.61 Responding to Greek and Cypriot political developments that raised concerns about a possible Greek annexation of Cyprus, Turkey’s military intervened in 197462 and established control over the northern third of the island, prompting an almost total ethnic and de facto political division along geographical lines. That division persists today and is the subject of continuing international efforts aimed at reunification.63 The ethnic Greek-ruled Republic of Cyprus is internationally recognized as having jurisdiction over the entire island, while the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the northern third has only Turkish recognition. The Republic of Cyprus’s accession to the EU in 2004, and Turkey’s refusal to normalize political and commercial relations with it is seen as a major obstacle to Turkey’s EU membership aspirations. It also hinders effective EU-NATO defense cooperation. EU accession also may have reduced incentives for Cyprus’s Greek population to make concessions toward a reunification deal. The Greek Cypriots rejected by referendum a United Nations plan (called the Annan plan after then Secretary-General Kofi Annan) in 2004 that the Turkish Cypriot population accepted. Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leaders claim that the Turkish Cypriot regime’s lack of international recognition unfairly denies its people basic economic and political rights, particularly through barriers to trade with and travel to countries other than Turkey. Turkey has assertively opposed efforts by the Republic of Cyprus and other Eastern Mediterranean countries—most notably Israel—to agree upon a division of offshore energy drilling rights before Cyprus’s political future is resolved. In response to drilling initiated in September 2011 by the Republic of Cyprus in the Aphrodite gas field off Cyprus’s southern coast, Turkey sent its own seismic research ships with a naval escort to waters off the Cypriot shore in agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime.64 Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots oppose Greek (...continued) Turkey agree on delivery schedule for Predators,” Today’s Zaman, September 25, 2011. 60 For more information on this subject, see CRS Report R41136, Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive, by Vincent Morelli. 61 Turkey views its protective role as justified given its status as one of the three guaranteeing powers of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee that was signed at the time Cyprus gained its independence. The United Kingdom and Greece are the other two guarantors. 62 Turkish intervention in Cyprus with U.S.-supplied arms prompted Congress to impose an embargo on military assistance and arms sales to Turkey from 1975 to 1978. This Cold War-era disruption in U.S.-Turkey relations is often cited by analysts as a major factor in Turkey’s continuing efforts to avoid overdependence on the United States or any other country for military equipment or expertise. 63 Turkey retains between 30,000 and 40,000 troops on the island (supplemented by approximately 5,000 Turkish Cypriot soldiers and 26,000 reserves). “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment Eastern Mediterranean, October 30, 2009. This is countered by a Greek Cypriot force of approximately 12,000 (including roughly 1,300 Greek officers and soldiers seconded to Cyprus) with reported access to 50,000 reserves. “Cyprus,” Jane’s World Armies, November 3, 2011. The United Nations maintains a peacekeeping mission (UNFICYP) of approximately 900 personnel within a buffer zone headquartered in Cyprus’s divided capital of Nicosia. Since the mission’s inception in 1964, UNFICYP has suffered 179 fatalities. The United Kingdom maintains approximately 3,000 personnel at two sovereign military bases on the southern portion of the island at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. 64 “Gas drilling heightens east Mediterranean tension,” UPI, September 16, 2011. Congressional Research Service 22 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Cypriot drilling without a solution to the larger question of the island’s unification. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced plans in November 2011 for the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to begin land drilling for oil and natural gas in northern Cyprus. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot regime have indicated that their openness to continued unification talks will end in July 2012 if the Republic of Cyprus assumes the rotating EU presidency as it is currently slated to do. The United States has voiced concern about tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly because the Greek Cypriot drilling is being conducted by Texas company Noble Energy. According to one source, Prime Minister Erdogan told President Obama in September 2011 that Turkish ships would not interfere with Greek Cypriot drilling.65 Armenia66 In late 2009, Turkey and Armenia, aided by Swiss mediation, agreed to joint protocols that would have normalized relations and opened borders between the two countries. They also would have called for a dialogue and impartial examination of the historical record with respect to “existing problems,” widely believed to refer to the issue of World War I-era deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians through the actions of Ottoman Empire authorities. Turkish leaders were unwilling to push for parliamentary ratification of the protocols, however, due to Azerbaijani objections to Turkey-Armenia normalization prior to desired progress on the issue of NagornoKarabakh.67 Azerbaijan influences Turkish policy on this issue because of its close cultural and economic ties with Turkey, particularly as Azerbaijan is a key energy supplier. Another possible cause for Turkish reluctance was a 2010 Armenian constitutional court ruling that indicated inflexibility on the genocide issue. Subsequently, Turkey and Armenia have made little or no progress toward ratifying the protocols or otherwise normalizing their relations, though the protocols remain under consideration in Turkey’s parliament.68 In December 2011, Turkish media reported that Foreign Minister Davutoglu had consulted with Swiss officials to determine prospects for reviving talks aimed at normalization in the event of Armenia-Azerbaijan progress on Nagorno-Karabakh.69 The tenor of relations between Turkey and Armenia could be an important factor in a potential congressional debate over a future genocide resolution. Afghanistan Turkey has twice commanded the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and has had troops participating in ISAF since shortly after its inception in December 2001. Turkey’s approximately 2,000 troops concentrate on training Afghan military and security forces 65 CRS conversation with Turkish think tank analyst in Istanbul, September 30, 2011. For more information, see CRS Report RL33453, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, by Jim Nichol. 67 Nagorno-Karabakh is a predominantly ethnic-Armenian-populated enclave within Azerbaijan’s international borders. Disputes over its status led to armed conflict in 1991 in parallel with the Soviet Union’s dissolution and the independence of both Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conflict ended with a 1994 ceasefire, but Armenian troops still occupy portions of the territory. The Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (cochaired by the United States, Russia, and France, and including both Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Turkey and a number of other European countries) has been trying to negotiate a permanent settlement since then. 68 In the meantime, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a 10-year security and mutual assistance agreement in August 2010. 69 Serkan Demirtas, “Turkey examines ways to revive Armenia dialogue,” Hurriyet Daily News, December 7, 2011. 66 Congressional Research Service 23 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations and providing security in Kabul, where Turkey commands ISAF’s Regional Command-Capital, as well as in Wardak (just west of Kabul) and Jawzjan (in northern Afghanistan) provinces.70 In addition, some Afghan police are trained in Turkey. As with several other NATO and non-NATO contributors to ISAF, Turkey’s troops are not involved in combat. Turkey’s history of good relations with both Afghanistan and Pakistan and its status as the Muslim-majority country with the greatest level of involvement in ISAF are thought by some analysts to help legitimize ISAF’s presence. These relations could become more important to preparing Afghanistan for stable, self-sufficient rule, with the United States and other ISAF countries scheduled to wind down their military presence in Afghanistan in future years. Regional Energy Issues Turkey as a Transit Corridor and Potential Source71 Turkey’s role as a regional energy transport corridor is growing, particularly with respect to natural gas. With supply sources that include Russia, Iran, other littoral Caspian Sea states, and— potentially—Iraq, the importance of Turkey’s security for world energy markets has increased. Turkey’s location has made it a key country in the U.S. and European effort to establish a southern corridor for natural gas transit from diverse sources.72 In October 2011, Azerbaijan and Turkey reached final terms for the transit of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz Phase 2 natural gas through the southern corridor. The terms specified that 565 billion-700 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas would transit Turkey, of which 210 bcf would be available for Turkey’s domestic use. Recent announcements of significant natural gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean have prompted Turkey to get involved. State-run TPAO has agreed to assist the de facto Turkish Cypriot regime with oil and gas exploration in northern Cyprus, and is pursuing deals with international companies for exploration in and off the coast of Turkey. It is unclear whether these efforts will produce substantial energy finds. It is also unclear whether they will lead to greater political conflict with other countries newly active in Eastern Mediterranean energy exploration—particularly Israel and the Republic of Cyprus, both of which have already made sizeable natural gas discoveries. 70 Information dated January 2011 provided to CRS by Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC. This subsection was co-authored with Michael Ratner, Specialist in Energy Policy. 72 The U.S. energy strategy in Europe is designed to work together with European nations and the European Union to seek ways to diversify Europe’s energy supplies. The focus of U.S. efforts has been on establishing a southern corridor route for Central Asian and Middle Eastern natural gas supplies to be shipped to Europe. Turkey factors into the proposed pipeline projects to transport natural gas from the Caspian and the Middle East to Europe in an effort to diversify European natural gas sources. See, e.g., Transatlantic Academy, Getting to Zero: Turkey, Its Neighbors, and the West, June 2010. 71 Congressional Research Service 24 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Figure 2. Major Pipelines Traversing Turkey and Possible Nuclear Power Plants (as of September 2011) Source: Turkish Economic Ministry, adapted by CRS. Notes: All locations are approximate Nuclear Energy Turkey has had plans for establishing nuclear power generation since 1970 but still does not have any active plants. After carrying out feasibility studies for potential sites, initial efforts to attract tenders from international companies foundered in the 1980s and 1990s due to multiple factors. These included a lack of adequate financing and environmental concerns exacerbated by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Given rapidly increasing rates of consumption amid robust Turkish economic growth, environmental and other political objections to nuclear power may no longer outweigh its appeal as a potentially plentiful, locally produced energy source. In addition, the fractious Turkish ruling coalitions of earlier decades have given way to AKP government leaders seemingly confident in their electoral mandate. They portray Turkey’s pursuit of nuclear energy as a matter of national self-reliance and prestige.73 In June 2008, the United States and Turkey signed a 15-year “123 Agreement” for peaceful nuclear cooperation in line with international nuclear non-proliferation norms.74 The nature of 73 Suzanne Gusten, “Forging Ahead on Nuclear Energy in Turkey,” New York Times, March 23, 2011. Turkey is also a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has a safeguards agreement and additional protocol in place with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is an observer to—not a full participant in—the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC, formerly known as the Global (continued...) 74 Congressional Research Service 25 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations future U.S.-Turkey cooperation under this agreement is likely to depend in part on whether, when, and how Turkey constructs and operates nuclear power plants in partnership with international companies. In May 2010, Turkey signed an agreement with Rosatom—Russia’s state-run nuclear company—to have it form a subsidiary to build, own, and operate Turkey’s first nuclear power plant for an estimated $20 billion, to be located in Akkuyu near the Mediterranean port of Mersin. Despite the proposed plant’s location near an earthquake fault line, Turkey and Rosatom reportedly plan to stay with a timetable that has construction beginning in 2012-2013 and operations beginning in 2019, even after the global concerns raised by the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown following the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami in Japan. Given that construction at Akkuyu has been postponed multiple times since the location was approved by Turkey in 1976, skepticism over the viability of the proposed plant might persist up to and even after operations begin. In addition to financial or technical obstacles, political controversy could revive over geological or environmental concerns, and proponents of diversification could increasingly oppose construction of a plant that might further Turkey’s energy dependence on Russia. Turkey is reportedly considering a contract with a Japanese company to build a second nuclear power plant in the northern town of Sinop on the Black Sea coast.75 The full range of motivations underlying Turkey’s potential use of nuclear energy is unclear, though many analysts express confidence that Turkish decision-making on the issue is significantly influenced by regional security considerations. One has written: At this point, little evidence exists to suggest that Turkey’s nuclear energy goals are tied to future plans for weaponization. Nevertheless, it is clear that Turkey’s nuclear program, no matter how explicitly “peaceful,” is ultimately strategic in nature. Either by relieving Ankara of its dependence on foreign energy supplies or providing a hedge against potential longterm security threats, Turkey’s nuclear program has been designed with its neighbors clearly in mind.76 Turkey and the European Union77 The Turkish government uses its demographic profile to support a bid for EU membership, arguing that it would bring a young, dynamic population to the aging ranks of Europe and boost EU influence in the Muslim world. Turkey first sought to associate itself with the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1959, and Turkey and the EEC entered into an agreement of association in 1963. EU accession talks, which began in 2005, have been stalled owing to the opposition of key EU states—most notably France and Germany—to Turkey’s full membership. (...continued) Nuclear Energy Partnership) founded by the United States, Russia, China, France, and Japan in 2007. IFNEC promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy by helping establish reprocessing centers for nuclear fuel. 75 See World Nuclear Association website, “Nuclear Power in Turkey,” updated December 2011. 76 Adam P. Williams, “Amid Growing Hopes for the Future, Turkish Nuclear Energy Ambitions Suffer Setback,” WMD Insights, December 2008/January 2009. Turkey is one of the regional countries analysts routinely mention could decide to pursue its own nuclear weapons program in the event that one or more countries in the region, such as Iran, achieves or declares a nuclear weapons capability. Israel is generally believed by most analysts to have had a nuclear arsenal since the late 1960s, but it maintains a policy of “nuclear opacity” wherein its nuclear weapons status remains officially undeclared. For discussion of Turkey and nuclear weapons, see CRS Report R41761, Turkey-U.S. Defense Cooperation: Prospects and Challenges, by Jim Zanotti. 77 For more information on this subject, see CRS Report RS22517, European Union Enlargement: A Status Report on Turkey’s Accession Negotiations, by Vincent Morelli. Congressional Research Service 26 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Opponents generally articulate empirical rationales for their positions, but many analysts believe that resistance to Turkish EU accession is rooted in fear that Turkey’s large Muslim population would fundamentally change the cultural character of the EU and dilute the power of the EU’s founding Western European states to drive the policy agenda. Since 1995, Turkey has had a full customs union with the EU. It also is a member of the Council of Europe, along with several other non-EU states (including Russia), and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Council’s European Court of Human Rights. Waning domestic expectations of and support for full accession to the EU, along with fundamental concerns over the economic and political soundness of the EU given the ongoing eurozone crisis, have contributed to an environment in which Turkish leaders, including Prime Minister Erdogan, now proclaim that the EU may need Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU.78 As mentioned above, Turkey’s unwillingness to normalize diplomatic and trade relations with EU member Cyprus presents a major obstacle to its accession prospects.79 Other EU concerns over Turkey’s qualifications for membership center on the treatment of Kurds and religious minorities, media freedoms, women’s rights, and the proper and transparent functioning of Turkey’s democratic and legal systems.80 Nevertheless, the EU provides over $1 billion in annual pre-accession financial and technical assistance to Turkey aimed at harmonizing its economy, society, bureaucracy, and political system with those of EU members.81 Other International Relationships As Turkey continues to exercise increased political and economic influence, it seeks to establish and strengthen relationships with non-Western global powers. It is expanding trade and defense industrial ties with China, Russia, and other countries in Asia and Africa. Turkey also has held joint military exercises with China on Turkish soil. Turkey additionally seeks to expand the scope of its regional influence, with its officials sometimes comparing its historical links and influence with certain countries—especially former territories of the Ottoman Empire—to the relationship of Britain with its commonwealth. Through hands-on political involvement, as well as increased private trade and investment and public humanitarian and development projects, Turkey has enhanced its influence and image as a leading Muslim-majority democracy with Muslim-populated countries not only in the Middle East, but also in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.82 78 Dan Bilefsky, “For Turkey, Lure of Tie to Europe Is Fading,” New York Times, December 4, 2011. According to the Transatlantic Trends surveys of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the percentage of Turks who think that Turkish EU membership would be a good thing was 73% in 2004 and 48% in 2011. 79 Turkey’s unwillingness to open its ports to Greek Cypriot trade according to the Additional Protocol that it signed at the outset of the accession process in 2005 has prompted the EU Council to block eight out of the 35 chapters of the acquis communautaire that Turkey would be required to meet to the Council’s satisfaction in order to gain EU membership. Thus far, one of the chapters has been fully negotiated, and 13 others have been opened. 80 European Commission Staff Working Paper, Turkey 2011 Progress Report, October 12, 2011. 81 See http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/turkey/financial-assistance/index_en.htm for further information. 82 See, e.g., Hajrudin Somun, “Turkish Foreign Policy in the Balkans and ‘Neo-Ottomanism’: A Personal Account,” Insight Turkey, vol. 13, no. 3, summer 2011; Yigal Schleifer, “Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman Problem,” World Politics Review, February 16, 2010; Greg Bruno, “Turkey’s Near Abroad,” Council on Foreign Relations Analysis Brief, September 19, 2008. Congressional Research Service 27 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations U.S.-Turkey Relations Overview The United States and Turkey have enjoyed a decades-long alliance dating from the onset of the Cold War. At the outset of the Obama Administration, U.S. officials made clear their intent to emphasize the importance of a multifaceted strategic relationship with Turkey. Subsequent bilateral and NATO-related developments during the Obama Administration have led to questions about the extent to which U.S. and Turkish strategic priorities and values converge on both a short- and long-term basis. In April 2009, President Obama, speaking of a “model partnership,” visited Turkey during his first presidential trip abroad and addressed the Parliament in Ankara, saying that “Turkey is a critical ally…. And Turkey and the United States must stand together—and work together—to overcome the challenges of our time.” One month later, Ahmet Davutoglu, a foreign policy academic-turned-advisor to Prime Minister Erdogan, became Turkey’s foreign minister, giving Davutoglu greater visibility with regard to the more independent and assertive Turkish foreign policy course he had helped to establish when the AKP came to power in 2002. His course envisions Turkey being “in the centre of its own sphere of influence” through “strategic depth” based largely on regional soft power through geopolitical, cultural, historical, and economic influence, and having “zero problems” with the countries in its vicinity.83 Subsequent Turkish and U.S. actions and statements on Armenia, Iran, and Israeli-Palestinian issues revealed tensions between the Obama Administration and AKP government visions for overcoming regional challenges. A vote in March 2010 by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to report H.Res. 252 on the question of a possible Armenian genocide for consideration by the full House led Turkey to temporarily recall its ambassador. Then, in May and June 2010, two developments raised significant concerns regarding U.S.Turkey relations: 1. Turkey’s Iranian nuclear diplomacy with Brazil—the Tehran Declaration on possible nuclear fuel swaps, followed by the Turkey-Brazil “no” vote on U.N. Security Council enhanced sanctions on Iran in Resolution 1929. 2. The Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla incident and its aftermath Some Members of Congress and Administration officials, viewing Turkey’s rhetoric and actions as (1) undermining a top U.S. priority in the Iranian nuclear issue and (2) being at odds with the U.S. characterization of Israel as an ally and Iran as a threat, openly questioned Turkey’s orientation on global security issues. Philip Gordon, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said in June 2010, We think Turkey remains committed to NATO, Europe and the United States, but that needs to be demonstrated. There are people asking questions about it in a way that is new, and that 83 See Gareth Jenkins, “On the edge – The AKP shifts Turkey’s political compass,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, August 2, 2010. Congressional Research Service 28 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations in itself is a bad thing that makes it harder for the United States to support some of the things that Turkey would like to see us support.84 Officials’ and analysts’ questions about Turkey’s foreign policy direction intensified following reports that the 2010 version of the Turkish National Security Policy Document (also known as the “Red Book”) downgraded or did not explicitly list possible threats from Iran, Syria, Greece, and Armenia that were listed in previous versions. At the same time, the Red Book reportedly defined Israel’s actions in the region as a threat—claiming that they induce conditions of instability.85 As discussed above, however, in 2011 concerns about the compatibility of U.S. and Turkish strategic priorities and values were partly allayed by shared U.S.-Turkey interests in promoting democratic transition in the Middle East and in preventing actors such as Iran from exacerbating regional sectarian tensions and security dilemmas. Many U.S. observers have criticized Erdogan and Davutoglu for perceived double standards and selective implementation of Turkey’s stated zero-problem foreign policy. Erdogan has adamantly denounced Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, and has suggested that international sanctions against Israel could help end the stalemate in the Arab-Israeli peace process. Yet, he has met with Hamas leaders in Turkey and has dubbed its members “resistance fighters” instead of terrorists; he was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his disputed reelection in June 2009; and he has said in defending Sudanese President Omar al Bashir regarding allegations from Darfur and elsewhere that it is “not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide.” Even as events in 2011 have led Turkey to coordinate more closely with its U.S. and other NATO allies, Erdogan has questioned their positions and/or motivations.86 Though Erdogan supports a twostate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he routinely criticizes the U.S.-led approach to the peace process in the international media. One U.S. analyst has asserted that Erdogan’s rhetoric and actions are largely calculated to appeal to and influence Turkish domestic public opinion.87 A late 2010 poll indicated that despite the longtime U.S.-Turkey alliance, and despite several potential threats along Turkey’s borders, a plurality of Turks see the United States as Turkey’s biggest external threat.88 This sentiment exists within a context of Turks’ generally low favorability ratings for foreign countries, partly based on historical concerns about encirclement by outside powers—particularly the West and Russia. 84 “US official: Turkey must demonstrate commitment to West,” Today’s Zaman, June 28, 2010. Ercan Yavuz, “Israeli-caused instability makes its way to Turkey’s security document,” Today’s Zaman, October 29, 2010. 86 For example, during a September 2011 trip to Libya, Erdogan criticized what he perceived to be Britain’s and France’s overly commercial interests in the country—despite Turkey’s own well-documented commercial interests in Libya and participation in and support for the 2011 NATO operation there. 87 Carol Migdalovitz, “AKP’s Domestically Driven Foreign Policy,” Turkish Policy Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 4, spring 2011. 88 Sevil Kucukkosum, “Turks see U.S. as biggest external threat, poll results show,” Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review, January 5, 2011. A December 2010 poll, taken by the MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center, which is affiliated with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), stated that 43% of respondents viewed the United States as Turkey’s primary external threat, with Israel in second place with 24%. Iran was a distant third with 3%. Reports posit that the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is a major shaper of the Turkish people’s threat perception, along with U.S. closeness to Israel and congressional action on Armenia. Ibid. 85 Congressional Research Service 29 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations However, an early 2011 poll indicated improvements in Turkish perceptions of U.S. influence in the world.89 Bilateral and NATO Defense Cooperation90 The U.S.-Turkey alliance has long centered on the countries’ defense relationship, both bilaterally and within NATO. With several challenges to U.S. national security emanating from the greater Middle East, Turkey is arguably a more significant ally for the United States at present than during the Cold War. Turkey’s location near several global hotspots makes the continuing availability of its territory for the stationing and transport of arms, cargo, and personnel valuable for the United States and NATO. Announcements during 2011 that Turkey would host the early warning missile defense radar and that NATO would transform its air command center in Izmir into a ground forces command center while closing land bases in Germany and Spain have reinforced Turkey’s strategic importance for the alliance. Although the Turkish military remains the most trusted institution in the country and retains greater power in the political process than most (if not all) of its NATO counterparts, its decline in influence in the last decade has led many observers to conclude that the military’s traditional role as the primary interlocutor for the United States and other NATO allies is in jeopardy, if not already obsolete. Adjusting to changes in the Turkish civil-military power structure presents a challenge for U.S. officials in adjusting future modes of bilateral interaction. It might lead to an approach that is more multidimensional than the well-established pattern some observers see in which the State Department and other U.S. officials rely on the “Pentagon to wield its influence.”91 89 British Broadcasting Corporation World Service Poll, “Views of US Continue to Improve in 2011 BBC Country Rating Poll,” March 7, 2011. The BBC poll, which was conducted from December 2010 to February 2011, claimed that 35% of Turks believe that U.S. influence in the world is positive (up from 13% in 2010), and that 49% believe that U.S. influence is negative (down from 68% in 2010). 90 For detailed information on this subject, see CRS Report R41761, Turkey-U.S. Defense Cooperation: Prospects and Challenges, by Jim Zanotti. 91 Henri J. Barkey, “Turkey’s New Global Role,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 17, 2010. The challenge for U.S. officials to manage cooperation with Turkey could be magnified by the way the U.S. government is structured to work with Turkey. Former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris has said, “For reasons of self-definition and Cold War logic, Turkey is considered a European nation. It is therefore assigned, for purposes of policy development and implementation, to the subdivisions responsible for Europe: the European Bureau (EUR) at the State Department; the European Command (EUCOM) at the Pentagon; the Directorate for Europe at the [National Security Council (NSC)], etc. Since the end of the Cold War, however, and progressively since the 1990-91 Gulf War and 9/11, the most serious issues in U.S.-Turkish relations – and virtually all of the controversial ones – have arisen in areas outside “Europe.” The majority, in fact, stem from developments in areas which in Washington are the responsibility of offices dealing with the Middle East: the Bureau for Near East Affairs (NEA) at State; Central Command (CENTCOM) at the Pentagon; the Near East and South Asia Directorate at NSC.” Omer Taspinar, “The Rise of Turkish Gaullism: Getting Turkish-American Relations Right,” Insight Turkey, vol. 13, no. 1, winter 2011, quoting an unpublished 2008 paper by Mark Parris. Congressional Research Service 30 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Figure 3. Map of U.S. and NATO Military Presence and Transport Routes in Turkey Source: Department of Defense, NATO; adapted by CRS Notes: All locations are approximate. Incirlik air base is a Turkish base, part of which is used for limited purposes by the U.S. military. Additional information on the U.S./NATO military presence in Turkey is available in CRS Report R41761, Turkey-U.S. Defense Cooperation: Prospects and Challenges, by Jim Zanotti. Since 1948, the United States has provided Turkey with approximately $13.8 billion in overall military assistance. Current annual military and security assistance, however, is limited to approximately $6 million annually in International Military Education and Training (IMET); International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE); and Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) funds. This assistance facilitates U.S.Turkey counterterrorism cooperation against Al Qaeda and other worldwide terrorist networks. Table 4. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Turkey ($ in millions) Account FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 International Military Education and Training (IMET) 5.0 4.0 4.0 International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) -- 0.5 0.5 Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR) 3.0 1.4 1.1 Total 8.0 5.9 5.6 Source: U.S. Department of State. Note: All amounts are approximate. Congressional Research Service 31 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Possible U.S. Policy Options Although U.S. and Turkish interests and policies intersect in many respects, Turkey’s growing regional influence and military, economic, and political self-reliance have decreased its dependence on the United States. The appeal of U.S. and Western power, prestige, values, and military technology might currently outstrip that of potential competitors, but Turkish actions might be affected by possible perceptions of decreasing U.S. global and regional preeminence. Given the impact Turkey has and potentially could have on a number of major U.S. priorities, a prescriptive approach that defines the U.S. relationship with Turkey in terms of one or two specific issues may have negative repercussions for cooperation on matters of significant U.S. interest. Members of Congress might consider maintaining or initiating active congressional inquiry into and coordinating with Obama Administration positions on Turkey. U.S. policymakers might consider cultivating other NATO and Middle Eastern allies whose cooperation will increase the attractiveness for Turkey of cooperation with the United States. One U.S. analyst wrote in December 2011: Despite record levels of communication and travel between top leaders in Ankara and Washington, the societal and institutional connections are still in need of revitalization and strengthening…. [C]oordination and policy on Turkey continues to affect vital interests throughout Washington, which ideally must go beyond the administration to the Hill and society at large even if there is short-term turbulence.92 Although short-term prospects may not be favorable for Turkish accession to the European Union, U.S. support for eventual Turkish EU membership, supplemented by U.S. consultations with Turkey and EU actors on the use of pre-accession aid and other means of increasing TurkeyEU harmonization, could help further anchor Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies within the West. However, if U.S. policymakers believe that an open-ended EU accession process in the face of current obstacles to Turkish membership is counterproductive, they might discuss alternative or parallel courses of action in hopes of maximizing the benefits of the U.S.-Turkey alliance on the issues discussed below. Influencing Regional Change and Promoting Stability Turkey is likely to play a key role in affecting the outcomes of ongoing political change and unrest in the broader Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan as both countries transition from U.S.-led military occupation to greater self-rule. In partnering with Turkey to influence regional change and promote stability, the following options are available for Members of Congress and Obama Administration officials to adopt or continue: • Determine whether and how to discourage further deterioration in Turkey’s relations with Israel. For example, should the United States mediate TurkeyIsrael security understandings and encourage either a discreet or a more public Turkey-Israel rapprochement? Policymakers could condition various modes of 92 Joshua W. Walker, “U.S.-Turkish Relations: Modesty and Revitalization,” On Turkey, German Marshall Fund of the United States, December 15, 2011. Congressional Research Service 32 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations U.S. cooperation with Turkey on its relations with Israel, but this could lead Turkey to decrease its overall cooperation with the United States and increasingly look to other countries to address its demands. • Determine the proper nature and extent of bilateral and NATO military and intelligence cooperation, including joint use of Turkish bases and territory, as well as information sharing to assist in countering the PKK and in facilitating interdiction of illegal arms shipments from other countries or non-state actors. • Determine whether and how to encourage Turkish political and financial support for individuals and groups opposing autocratic regimes, and whether and how such backing should be linked to support for democratically accountable and economically viable transitions in countries experiencing unrest or leadership changes. • Determine whether and how to coordinate with Turkey to impose and enforce unilateral, multilateral, or international sanctions (diplomatic, military, and/or economic) that have the potential to effectively weaken or change the behavior of regimes or other actors violating human rights or otherwise contravening international laws and norms. Examples include the Asad regime in Syria for violently suppressing popular protest and the Iranian regime for its nuclear program and support of regional terrorist groups. • Determine whether and how to support Turkish efforts to coordinate regional security with other local actors, especially other U.S. allies. Action on any of these options will take place in a complex regional and strategic environment whose trajectory has probably become more unpredictable in the past year, perhaps increasing the difficulty of calculating risks and determining probable outcomes. Arms Sales and Military/Security Assistance Turkey continues to seek advanced U.S. military equipment (i.e., fighter aircraft, drone aircraft, helicopters, and missile defense systems), and its defense industry participates in joint ventures with the United States (e.g., on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter). However, Turkey’s growing defense industry and its increased willingness to engage in arms import-export transactions or joint military exercises with non-NATO countries, such as China, Russia, Pakistan, and South Korea, indicate Turkey’s interest in diversifying its defense relationships and decreasing its dependence on the United States. U.S. military and security assistance programs for Turkey are designed to cultivate closeness in relationships and practices between Turkish military officers and security officials and their U.S. counterparts. Turkey is particularly interested in acquiring armed drones from the United States to use against the PKK. It has reportedly sought to purchase four MQ-1 Predator drones and six MQ-9 Reaper drones (more advanced versions of the Predator) since 2008.93 In September 2011, according to Turkish media outlet Today’s Zaman, Prime Minister Erdogan claimed that Turkey had reached 93 “Procurement, Turkey,” Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment - Eastern Mediterranean, December 16, 2010. Previous potential sales of Reapers to NATO allies such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy were notified to Congress in 2008 and 2009 with the understanding that the drones would be used to support coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congressional Research Service 33 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations agreement in principle with the Obama Administration to either lease or purchase U.S. drones, and Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz subsequently announced that delivery was expected in June 2012,94 though this has not been publicly confirmed or denied by U.S. officials. In October 2011, the Administration notified Congress of a possible $111 million Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of three AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters from the U.S. Marine Corps inventory. Though Representative Shelley Berkley introduced a joint resolution on November 3, 2011 (H.J.Res. 83)—co-sponsored by 12 Members—proposing disapproval of the sale, the 15day notification period elapsed without congressional action to delay or block the potential sale, allowing it to go forward. Lack of effective opposition from Congress on the helicopter sale could signal a general willingness to support Turkish priorities in countering terrorism and stabilizing Iraq given the U.S. military drawdown and in light of Turkey’s seeming willingness to oppose Iran on issues such as the NATO missile defense radar and the future of Syria. Nevertheless, reports have indicated that some Members of Congress have balked at the drone sale.95 In October 2011, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow reportedly said in a speech to the American-Turkish Council, “This topic is influenced by the problems in Turkish-Israeli relations. This is not a secret. But just to repeat it, we do support the sale.”96 Concerns about sensitive technology transfer might also exist that are less applicable to the helicopter sale, partly because Turkey already possesses some SuperCobras. With the region’s stability in question, one could additionally question whether drones initially intended to fight the PKK in Turkey and possibly Iraq could be used in the future for other purposes. By redeploying the four U.S. Predator drones from Iraq to Turkey in late 2011,97 the Obama Administration might have bought time for further consultations with Congress on a potential drone sale. Possible Armenian Genocide Congress’s involvement on Turkey-Armenia issues has the potential to strongly influence U.S.Turkey relations. In March 2010 during the 111th Congress, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted to report H.Res. 252 for consideration by the full House (by a vote of 23-22). H.Res. 252 characterized actions of the Ottoman Empire against Armenians from 1915 to 1917 as genocide. Similar resolutions had been reported multiple times by congressional committees since 1984 (see Appendix C for a full list), and President Ronald Reagan referred to a “genocide of the Armenians” during a Holocaust Remembrance Day speech in 1981. H.Res. 252 did not pass, but in response to the March 2010 committee action, Turkey recalled its ambassador from the United States for one month, and at least one prominent AKP lawmaker reportedly warned that “the relationship would be downgraded on every level” in the event of House passage of the resolution. This warning was commonly interpreted as including a threat to curtail at least partially or temporarily U.S. access to Turkish bases and territory for transporting non-lethal cargo to missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.98 Representative Robert Dold introduced 94 “US-Turkey agree on delivery schedule for Predators,” Today’s Zaman, September 25, 2011. “U.S. Vows to Support Turkey over Kurdish Rebels,” Agence France Presse, December 18, 2011. 96 Craig Whitlock, “Pentagon agrees to sell three attack helicopters to Turkey,” Washington Post, November 1, 2011. 97 “US deployed Predators to Incirlik: Davutoglu,” Hurriyet Daily News, November 13, 2011. 98 Robert Tait and Ewen McCaskill, “Turkey threatens ‘serious consequences’ after US vote on Armenian genocide,” Guardian (UK), March 5, 2010. 95 Congressional Research Service 34 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations H.Res. 304—virtually identical to H.Res. 252—in June 2011 during the 112th Congress. The proposed resolution has garnered over 85 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Nineteen countries other than Armenia have recognized the Ottoman-era deaths as genocide in some way, including 10 of the 27 EU member states.99 France is one of these countries, and in December 2011, the lower house of the French parliament approved legislation that, if enacted after passing its upper house, would criminalize denial of an Armenian genocide. In response, Prime Minister Erdogan recalled Turkey’s ambassador from France and halted all Turkey-France diplomatic consultations and military dealings—likely increasing tensions related to Turkey’s EU accession process.100 Bilateral Trade Promotion Although successive U.S. Administrations have cited the importance of increased trade with Turkey, and the Obama Administration has reemphasized this in articulating its vision for a multifaceted bilateral strategic relationship with Turkey, it is unclear how effective government efforts to promote U.S.-Turkey trade can be. A Department of Commerce official told CRS that total U.S.-Turkey trade volume is growing (estimating $20 billion for 2011, an approximate 45% increase from 2010), and said that Turkish exports to the United States are growing faster than exports to the rest of the world.101 As mentioned above, the United States is Turkey’s fourthlargest trading partner, and according to the Department of Commerce, Turkey ranks 26th among countries to which the United States exports merchandise and 47th among countries from which it imports goods. Table 5. U.S. Merchandise Trade with Turkey ($ in Millions) 2007 2008 2009 2010 Exports 6,500 9,960 7,090 10,550 Imports 4,600 4,640 3,660 4,200 11,100 14,600 10,750 14,750 Total Volume Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Foreign Trade Division, U.S. Bureau of Census Both U.S. and Turkish officials repeatedly state their desire to enhance bilateral trade and investment ties. The two countries signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in 1999. Annual meetings for the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation began in 2010 at the cabinet ministerial level. The goal of the Framework is to intensify bilateral economic relations in a wide range of areas. One current project is the NearZero Zone, a public-private partnership initiative which seeks to incentivize U.S. investment in efforts to increase the capacity and efficiency of Turkish energy companies located in Izmir. The 99 The EU states recognizing a genocide are France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Greece, and Cyprus. 100 Sebnem Arsu, “Turkey Lashes Out Over Bill About French Genocide,” New York Times, December 23, 2011. Switzerland and Slovenia have previously criminalized denial of an Armenian genocide. 101 CRS correspondence with Department of Commerce official, December 2011. Congressional Research Service 35 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations U.S. government has designated Turkey as a priority market and the interagency Trade Policy Coordination Commission has developed an Export Enhancement Strategy for Turkey.102 Additionally, in the 112th Congress, H.R. 2362 (the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011) was ordered to be reported by the House Natural Resources Committee in November 2011. If enacted, this bill would ease the process by which Turkish companies could do business on American Indian reservations. U.S. and Turkish advocates for expanded bilateral, non-defense trade seek greater private sector contacts and information campaigns facilitated by government officials—including Members of Congress—through business delegations and contact groups in fields such as energy, property development, high tech engineering and construction, medical supplies, systems management, and marketing.103 Turkish officials have occasionally proposed a U.S.-Turkey preferential trade agreement104 or U.S. legislation establishing qualified industrial zones (QIZs) in Turkey without success. Some policymakers and observers claim that even if past economic conditions may have limited U.S. trade with Turkey, recent growth in Turkish consumer demand, quality of products and services, and global competitiveness and brand recognition have increased Turkey’s value as an import source, target market, and place of investment for U.S. companies.105 The Turkish Ministry of Economy has identified six U.S. states as the focus of its efforts to increase bilateral trade: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Georgia.106 Conclusion Turkey’s importance to the United States appears to be growing both because of its increasing economic and political influence and because the United States is relying increasingly on Turkey to support U.S. interests in the Middle East as Washington seeks a more economical military and aid strategy. The feasibility of U.S. reliance on Turkey is likely to be tested in relation to developments in Syria, Iraq, and Iran, where U.S.-Turkey interests appear to be more aligned than they were a year ago. Closeness between U.S. and Turkish interests remains subject to fluctuation as events develop, particularly with regard to Turkey’s troubled relations with Israel and concerns over strategic preeminence and energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Congressional action on the possible sale of drone aircraft to Turkey to counter the PKK or on a potential Armenian genocide resolution could significantly affect U.S.-Turkey relations, particularly if Members of Congress link their stances on these issues to the state of Turkey-Israel relations. The positions Members of Congress take on specific issues concerning Turkey—including defense cooperation, trade promotion, and Turkish domestic developments—also will indicate U.S. priorities at a critical time for global and regional stability and for the Turkish republic’s political and constitutional evolution. This could influence Turkish leaders’ future foreign policy 102 For more detailed information on bilateral efforts to promote trade, see U.S. Department of Commerce Fact Sheet: U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation, October 14, 2010. 103 CRS conversation with representative of Turkish business association, December 2011. 104 Given Turkey’s customs union with the EU, a full free trade agreement between the United States and Turkey would not be possible without a U.S.-EU free trade agreement. 105 In December 2011, the New York Times profiled Turkey as an attractive destination for foreign capital given its growing consumer market and relative political and financial stability. Mark Scott, “In Turkey, Western Companies Find Stability and Growth,” New York Times, December 23, 2011. 106 Information provided to CRS by Turkish Ministry of Economy, September 2011. Congressional Research Service 36 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations rhetoric, decisions, and alignments, which in turn will likely have implications for regional security and for Turkey’s EU accession prospects. Congressional positions could also influence Turkey’s commitment to civilian-led, democratic government that enshrines individual, media, and minority rights; rule of law; and due process. Congressional Research Service 37 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Appendix A. Profiles of Key Figures in Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Prime Minister Erdogan was born in Istanbul in 1954 and spent much of his childhood in his family’s ancestral hometown of Rize on the Black Sea coast. He and his family returned to Istanbul for his teenage years, and he attended a religious imam hatip school. In the 1970s, Erdogan studied business at what is today Marmara University, played soccer semiprofessionally, and became politically active with the National Salvation Party, led by the pioneering Turkish Islamist figure (and eventual prime minister) Necmettin Erbakan. After the military banned all political parties in the wake of its 1980 coup, Erdogan became a business consultant and executive. When political life in Turkey resumed, Erdogan became a prominent local leader and organizer for Erbakan’s new Welfare Party. Erdogan was elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994 at the beginning of a wave of Islamist political victories in Turkey in the mid-1990s. He was removed from office, imprisoned for six months, and banned from parliamentary politics for religious incitement after he recited a poem in the southeastern city of Siirt in December 1997 that included the passage (translated from Turkish): “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.” After Erbakan’s government resigned under military pressure in 1997 and the Welfare Party was disbanded, Erdogan became the founding chairman of the AKP in 2001. The AKP won a decisive electoral victory in 2002, securing the single-party rule that it has maintained since. After the election, a legal change allowed Erdogan to stand for parliament in a 2003 special election in Siirt, and after he won, Erdogan replaced Abdullah Gul as prime minister. Erdogan and his personal popularity and charisma have been at the center of much of the domestic and foreign policy change that has occurred in Turkey in the past decade. In January 2009 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, following the Gaza Strip conflict between Israel and Hamas, he left the panel discussion in which he was participating after perceiving a slight by the moderator (Washington Post columnist David Ignatius) and pointedly criticizing his fellow panelist Shimon Peres, president of Israel. His criticism of Israel and its actions has boosted his popularity at home and throughout the Muslim Middle East, where polls show that he may be the region’s most popular world leader. Erdogan is married and has two sons and two daughters. His wife Emine and daughters wear the headscarf. He is not fluent in English. President Abdullah Gul President Gul was born in 1950 in Kayseri in central Turkey. He studied economics in Turkey and England, and received his Ph.D. from Istanbul University, becoming a university professor and an economist at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Gul was first elected to parliament from Kayseri in 1991 as a member of the Islamist Welfare Party, then, after it was disbanded, stayed on as a reform-minded member of the Islamist Virtue Party. Gul served on parliamentary assemblies of NATO and the Council of Europe. When the AKP was formed in 2001, he became deputy chairman and—briefly—its first prime minister after the successful Congressional Research Service 38 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations election of 2002. When Erdogan took over the prime ministry in 2003, Gul became Turkey’s foreign minister and helped accelerate Turkey’s EU accession process. In 2007, the AKP nominated Gul for the presidency amid substantial secularist opposition, partly owing to statements from his early political career that indicated distaste for the secular nature of Turkey’s republic. Parliament nevertheless elected Gul president. Many observers believe him to be a moderating influence on the Erdogan government. Gul is married with two sons and a daughter. His wife Hayrunissa and daughter wear the headscarf. He speaks fluent English. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Foreign Minister Davutoglu was born in 1959 in Konya in central Turkey. He attended a German international school in Istanbul and received a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from Bosphorus University. He became a university professor, spending time in Malaysia in the early 1990s before establishing himself as a scholar known for applying academic theory to practical matters of Turkish foreign policy and national security strategy. His book Strategic Depth, which was published in 2001 and has been translated into other languages but not English, is thought by some to represent a blueprint of sorts for the policies Davutoglu has since helped implement. Following the AKP’s victory in 2002, Davutoglu was appointed chief foreign policy advisor to the prime minister. Upon his appointment as foreign minister in 2009, he quickly gained renown for articulating and applying his concepts of zero problems and strategic depth. He advocates for a preeminent role for Turkey in its surrounding region, but disputes the characterization of his policies by some observers as “neo-Ottomanism.” He won an AKP parliamentary seat for the first time in June 2011. Davutoglu is married with four children. His wife Sare is a medical doctor. He speaks fluent English, as well as German and Arabic. Opposition Leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition CHP, was born in 1948 in Tunceli province in eastern Turkey. After receiving an economics degree from what is now Gazi University in Ankara, Kilicdaroglu had a civil service career—first with the Finance Ministry, then as the director-general of the Social Security Organization. After retiring from the civil service, Kilicdaroglu became politically active with the CHP and was elected to parliament from Istanbul in 2002. He gained national prominence for his efforts to root out corruption among AKP officials and the AKP-affiliated mayor of Ankara. When CHP leader Deniz Baykal was forced to resign over a videotape sex scandal in May 2010, Kilicdaroglu was elected to replace him. In the first national election with him as party leader in June 2011, the CHP gained 23 seats in parliament, although not as many as some observers expected. Kilicdaroglu is married with a son and two daughters. He is an Alevi and speaks fluent French. Congressional Research Service 39 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan Abdullah Ocalan was born in or around 1949 in southeastern Turkey (near Sanliurfa). After attending vocational high school in Ankara, Ocalan served in civil service posts in Diyarbakir and Istanbul until enrolling at Ankara University in 1971. As his interest developed in socialism and Kurdish nationalism, Ocalan was jailed for seven months in 1972 for an illegal student demonstration. His time in prison with other activists helped inspire his political ambitions, and he became increasingly politically active upon his release. Ocalan founded the Marxist-Leninistinfluenced PKK in 1978 and launched a separatist militant campaign against Turkish security forces—while also attacking the traditional Kurdish chieftain class—in 1984. He used Syrian territory as a safe haven. Syria forced Ocalan to leave in 1998 after Turkey threatened war for harboring him. After traveling to several different countries, Ocalan was captured in February 1999 in Kenya—possibly with U.S. help—and turned over to Turkish authorities. The PKK declared a cease-fire shortly thereafter. Ocalan was sentenced to death, in a trial later ruled unfair by the European Court of Human Rights, but when Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He resides in a maximum-security prison on the island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara, and was in solitary confinement until 2009. Although acting PKK leader Murat Karayilan and other commanders have exercised direct control over PKK operations during Ocalan’s imprisonment, some observers believe that Ocalan still ultimately controls the PKK through proxy communications. Although PKK violence resumed in 2003 and has since continued off-and-on, Ocalan has indicated that the organization is seeking a negotiated resolution that does not require forming a Kurdish state, and has reportedly engaged in talks with Turkish intelligence to that end. Congressional Research Service 40 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Appendix B. List of Selected Turkish-Related Organizations in the United States American Friends of Turkey (http://afot.us/) American Research Institute in Turkey (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/ARIT/) American Turkish Society (http://www.americanturkishsociety.org/) American-Turkish Council (http://www.the-atc.org/) Assembly of Turkish American Associations (http://www.ataa.org/)—component organizations from 17 states and District of Columbia Ataturk Society of America (http://www.ataturksociety.org/) Federation of Turkish American Associations Institute of Turkish Studies (http://turkishstudies.org/) SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (http://setadc.org) Turkic American Alliance (http://www.turkicamericanalliance.org/) • West America Turkic Council (West region)—includes Pacifica Institute • Turkish American Federation of Midwest (Midwest region) • Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians (South region)—includes Institute of Interfaith Dialog • Turkic American Federation of Southeast (Southeast region)—includes Istanbul Center • Council of Turkic American Associations (Northeast region) • Mid Atlantic Federation of Turkic American Associations (Mid-Atlantic region)—includes Rumi Forum Turkish Coalition of America (http://www.tc-america.org/) Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) (http://www.tuskonus.org/tuskon.php) Turkish Cultural Foundation (http://www.turkishculturalfoundation.org/) Turkey Policy Center (http://www.turkishpolicycenter.com/) Congressional Research Service 41 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations Appendix C. Congressional Committee Reports of Armenian Genocide-Related Proposed Resolutions Date Reported or of Vote for Report Proposed Resolution(s) Committee April 5, 1984 S.J.Res. 87 Senate Judiciary September 28, 1984 S.Res. 241 Senate Foreign Relations July 9, 1985 H.J.Res. 192 House Post Office and Civil Service July 23, 1987 H.J.Res. 132 House Post Office and Civil Service August 3, 1987 H.Res. 238 House Rules October 18, 1989 S.J.Res. 212 Senate Judiciary October 11, 2000 H.Res. 596 and H.Res. 625 House Rules October 10, 2007 H.Res. 106 House Foreign Affairs March 4, 2010 H.Res. 252 House Foreign Affairs Author Contact Information Jim Zanotti Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs jzanotti@crs.loc.gov, 7-1441 Acknowledgments Some of this report includes or is derived from material initially written by Carol Migdalovitz, retired CRS Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs. Congressional Research Service 42