Faltering EU deal strengthens Islam

Faltering EU deal strengthens Islam

WASHINGTON - Turkey's bid for eventual European Union membership is likely to fail and this will further boost Islamist and nationalist tendencies already strong in the society.

"Over the next 15 years, Turkey’s most likely course involves a blending of Islamic and nationalist strains, which could serve as a model for other rapidly modernizing countries in the Middle East," said the "Global Trends - 2025" report published Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, or NIC, which brings together all 16 U.S. spy agencies.

Mathew Burrows, NIC counselor and principal organizer of the report, speaking at the Foreign Press Center here a day later, was asked how the U.S. intelligence community predicted that Turkey would be more Islamic and nationalist over the next 15 to 20 years.

"We base this on quite a few talks we have had with experts both here and abroad, and our observations of trends happening now in Turkey," Burrows said. "What we see in Turkey today is the development of an Islamist, modernizing tradition that is very strong and successful, combined with what has always been a very strong nationalist tradition," he said.

About Turkey's EU prospects, Burrows said, "we are cautious, I mean, and somewhat pessimistic, I would say, about whether Turkey will ever be in the EU."

"And we are worried about that relationship going sour," he said. "We would expect that to reinforce some of this nationalist thinking and Islamist traditions and tendencies."

Turkey's pro-secular state establishment, including the military and the ruling Justice and Development Party whose roots are in political Islam have been bickering over secularism-related matters in recent years.

The party's votes in legislative elections have climbed from 36 percent in 2002 to 47 percent in 2007.

Secularism to decline
The NIC said it expected secularism in the Middle East to decline, in line with the Turkish example.

"In the Middle East, secularism, which also has been considered an integral part of the Western model, increasingly may be seen as out of place as Islamic parties come into prominence and possibly begin to run governments," NIC said in the Global Trends report. "As in today’s Turkey, we could see both increased Islamization and greater emphasis on economic growth and modernization."

The NIC report also said it expected to see the political and economic power of Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey, all non-Arab Muslim countries, increase over the next couple of decades.
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