- (april 2012)
If Turkey falls...
There are reasons to believe that Turkey's economy might be overdue for a
hard landing. (See for example (this article).
The biggest problem seems to be a stubborn
current account deficit which, at 10% of gross domestic product (GDP), is
about the same as Greece's. Compared with its neighbor, the big advantage that Turkey has is control
over its own currency, but devaluing the Turkish lira seems to have only
postponed the inevitable. In fact, one theory is that the euro has
forced Greece to face its problems before it's too late, whereas the lira is
allowing Turkey to pretend that the problem does not exist and therefore
to make it much worse in the near future.
The Arab revolutions in Egypt, Libya
and Tunisia have looked up to Turkey as a model of democratic Islamic state
with a modern, vibrant economy and even increasing political power on the
world stage. That feeling has a mirror image in Turkey.
Turkey has always made a point of distancing itself from the
Ottoman Empire, but during a recent trip to Turkey i was amazed at how
confident ordinary people are that Turkey is returning to Ottoman glory.
The Ottomans (predecessors to the Turkish state) used to rule the
vast majority of the Arab world, plus the Balkans, Greece and the Caucasus,
and used to be the largest empire west of Russia and India at the time when
the European "powers" were fighting each other all the time but tiny and
(See this timeline of the Turks).
However, there is one alternative future that
neither the Arabs nor the Turks have contemplated: that the democratic,
modern state of Turkey collapses exactly like the obsolete dictatorships
of the Arab world did. That would be an incredible tragedy for the Islamic
world, that is just beginning to feel that the worst is over and a revival
of the great Islamic civilization is around the corner. If Turkey's economy
collapses, it is very likely that social instability will follow. Turkey is
already living in a permanent state of war against the Kurdish rebels, a cold
war which is now de facto bloodier than the cold war between Israel and its
enemies (Hamas and Hezbollah).
While many in Turkey look forward to the day that Turkish influence will
start expanding again over the old Ottoman regions, there is also a possible
future in which the Kurds win independence in southeastern Turkey
The world might suddenly awaken to the fact that Turkey has never been a
truly democratic state: thousands of opposition figures are in jail, millions
of websites are banned, and the government still refuses to recognize simple
facts like the Armenian genocide.
Turkey also suffers from the same demographic problems that affect the rest
of the Islamic world: a booming population (that mainly perpetuates poverty
and provides cheap labor to nearby countries) and an exodus of the non-Muslim
minorities (towards Israel, Greece, the USA, Western Europe and now even
the Slavic countries). As i have written elsewhere (see this history of Islam), the rapid decline of the
Islamic civilization has coincided with the rapid exodus of non-Muslim
minorities. Turks who are fond of the history of the Ottoman empire should
read carefully who was administering that empire at its peak and what god
their worshipped. The symptoms are not reassuring. On top of this troubling
scenario, is the fact that Turkey is basically divided into several regions
that have little in common: the European side (Istanbul and the other big
cities of that peninsula) is... European (they even use the euro as the
daily currency), the old Greek homeland (the southwestern coast of Turkey)
is a tourist paradise, and northcentral Anatolia is still largely an
agricultural world (the rest of Anatolia is engulfed in the Kurdish civil war).
If the Turks had not been brainwashed into thinking that they are one nation,
it would be natural for the European side (Istanbul) to secede and become
full members of the European Union and for southern Turkey to restore the
ancestrail ties to the Greek islands. Tensions like this are likely to emerge
if the economy collapses the way it has in neighboring Greece.
Now try to imagine the Islamic world after the possible collapse of Turkey:
for the first time in its history, the entire region from Morocco to
Pakistan would be in political, economic and social turmoil.
You would have to travel to distant Indonesia in order to find a stable
and prospering Islamic state (and one in which religious minorities still
TM, ®, Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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- (january 2012)
The Turkish dictatorship.
There is one country in the world that in december 2011 was keeping 97
journalists in prison, and it is not mainland China. It is a country with
just a fraction of China's population: Turkey. Turkey also ranks among the
countries that exerts the strictest censorship of the World-wide Web: one
million websites are banned in Turkey (including this one, www.scaruffi.com).
Israeli abuses against Palestinians are widely reported by the international
media, but in recent months Turkey has killed many more Kurdish separatists
(and civilians) than Israel has killed Palestinian militants, and even bombed
its neighbor Iraq in a blatant violation of international law.
Turkey also insists that the Armenian genocide never took place, and even
insists that the rest of the world should say the same.
The European Union is still negotiating the admission of Turkey, and Turkey
is still a member of NATO. I was a strong supporter of both when Turkey was
becoming more and more democratic. Now that it is becoming less and less
democratic, one wonders what makes Turkey any better qualified than Egypt or
even Iraq for admission in the European Union and NATO.
The international community should impose sanctions on Turkey until: 1. It
releases dissident journalists from prison; 2. It restores full access to
the Internet; 3. It grants autonomy or independence to the Kurds; and 4.
It fully recognizes the Armenian genocides, apologizes in public, and
restores full diplomatic ties with Armenia. Turkey, that was one of the
brightest hopes in the Middle East, is providing a bad example to its
neighbors and becoming a danger to both democratic progress and stability in
See also: Turkey's sense of humour
TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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- Articles before 2012