Mustafa Akyol writes: As any Turkey watcher would easily confirm, hostility to the West has increasingly marked the rhetoric of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his ruling Justice and Development (AKP) and pro-government media in the past two years. Especially since the Gezi Park protests in June 2013, the narrative of Erdogan and his entourage has revolved around Western “conspiracies” and a “national will” that is bravely fighting them.
Yet for those familiar with the AKP’s 14-year history, this may have come as a surprising turn. When the AKP was created in 2001, hostility to the West was not something with which it identified itself. On the contrary, party founders claimed to have disowned the Islamist, anti-Western “National View” tradition from which they came. Likewise, in the first years after the AKP came to power in 2002, Westernization (i.e., integration with the European Union) was the party’s prime objective. Back then, Europe was the source not of treacherous conspiracies that had to be thwarted, but of democratic criteria that had to be embraced.
Not surprisingly, the fiercest opposition to the AKP during that period from 2002 to 2010 was mounted by the anti-Western breed of Turkish secularists, known as neonationalists. This quarter — whose slogan is “Neither the US nor the EU, but a fully independent Turkey” — accused Erdogan’s government of “selling Turkey out to imperialism.” In 2007, one of Turkey’s best-selling books was nonsense titled “Moses’ Children,” which declared Erdogan to be a “crypto-Jew” colluding with the Elders of Zion. In the same era, the argument that Turkey should move closer to Russia instead of the EU was promoted by neonationalist generals, who would be implicated in the alleged Ergenekon coup plot to overthrow the AKP. [Continue reading…]