Guest Column by Kemal Kirişci. Kirişci will give Friday’s Morning Lecture in the Amphitheater at 10:45 a.m.
As the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia to the rest of the Middle East early in 2011, the longtime opposition figure Rashid al-Gannouchi, also the co-founder and leader of Tunisia’s an-Nahda party, was among the many leaders who pointed to Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led Turkey as a model for guiding the transformation of the Middle East. Gannouchi maintained close relations with AKP and its leadership, which later became closely involved in Tunisia’s transformation efforts. Yet, after a May 2013 talk on “Tunisia’s Democratic Future” at The Brookings Institution, Gannouchi’s response to a question asking him which countries he thought constituted a model for Tunisia was striking because he did not mention Turkey. It is probably not a coincidence that he responded the way he did because the news about the harsh police response to the initial stages of the anti-government protests in Turkey was just breaking out. Subsequently, in an interview he gave to Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post early in June, he also took a critical view of both Mohammed Morsi and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for their majoritarian understanding of democracy, a view that he said an-Nahda renounces. So what happened to Turkey’s model credentials? What might have led Gannouchi to change his views so dramatically? Are there any prospects for Turkey to reclaim these credentials?Continue reading