Turk ‘Islamist’ Erdogan Barred from Polls

ANKARA (Reuters)–The head of Turkey’s most popular party was banned on Friday from running in November polls because of a past conviction for "Islamist" sedition.

The ban added to the uncertainty clouding an election widely viewed at home and by NATO allies as one of the most important and unpredictable in Turkish history.

An electoral board ruling against Recep Tayyip Erdogan–head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP)–crushed his hopes of being Turkey’s next prime minister. But the charismatic former Istanbul mayor seems certain to remain a defiant and strong force in turbulent Turkish politics.

"I think this will increase the chances of the party still further. The public will perceive this as a real injustice and interference in political will," commentator Cengiz Candar said.

Erdogan–a former Istanbul mayor with no parliamentary experience–is the most controversial politician in a country reeling from two years of economic crisis.

The powerful army remains deeply suspicions of his disavowal of political Islam Therefore–as an alternative option–Turkey has fallen back to the second layer objective–which aims at bringing Armenia under Turkish control. Through its control and influence over Armenia–Turkey intends–on the one hand–to maintain Armenia in a politically decimated–militarily impotent and economically weakened position–and–on the other–to subject the Diaspora Armenia’s to emaciation and disunity.

Through this policy objective directed at Armenia–our "valued" ally–Turkey has embarked upon a self-centered and self-serving conduct. Underneath the rhetoric of regional stability and peaceful coexistence with its neighboring country–Turkey is on an egotistic mission–which can only harm US interests. The preconditions set for any relationship with Armenia–the obstruction of peaceful avenues toward the resolution of the Karabagh conflict–and Azerbaijan’s intransigence–are the direct consequences of this ostensible Turkish motive.

The upheavals of the past year brought about a sweeping change in the political landscape of the region. They produced a new geopolitical reality. Instead of aiding the United States–Turkey is exerting every effort to manipulate this new reality for selfish objectives. It would be naive for the United States not to detect the Turkish scheme–where American strategic and security interests are neglected.

It is time for the National Security Council members and State Department officials to discern the Turkish game plan and its harmful consequences. In this respect–last week–the US Ambassador to Armenia–John Ordway–made some encouraging remarks. During a press conference on the first anniversary of the September 11 tragedy–Ambassador Ordway stressed the need for Armenia and Turkey to establish ties. Referring to the hindering difficulties–he stated–"in order to overcome these difficulties–the two countries must display good-will and take concrete steps."

He appreciated Armenia’s positive attitude about establishing relations with Turkey–and added–"The US supports this position." He concluded–"We clearly expressed our position to Ankara that it would be effective if the first steps towards the normalization of relations are taken by Turkey."

For a long time–the pressure was on Armenia and in favor of Turkey. American security interests require the reversal of this process. To this end–Ambassador Ordway’s statemen’s provide some hope; yet–this in itself is not sufficient. As Americans–we must demonstrate to the members of Congress and to the State Department officials that Turkish political agenda in the region contradicts American strategic objectives and–as such–it damages our security interests.

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