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Abstract

As a Muslim-majority country that is also a secular democratic state, a member of NATO, a candidate for membership in the European Union, a long-standing U.S. ally, and the host of Incirlik Air Base (a key hub for logistical support missions in Afghanistan and Iraq), Turkey is pivotal to U.S. and Western security interests in a critical area of the world. It also provides an example of the coexistence of Islam with secular democracy, globalization, and modernity. However, having a ruling party with Islamic roots — the Justice and Development Party (AKP) — within a framework of strict secularism has generated controversy over the boundaries between secularity and religion in the public sphere. This monograph describes the politico-religious landscape in Turkey and the relationship between the state and religion, and it evaluates how the balance between secular and religious forces — and between the Kemalist elites and new emerging social groups — has changed over the past decade. The study also assesses the new challenges and opportunities for U.S. policy in the changed Turkish political environment and identifies specific actions the United States may take to advance the U.S. interest in a stable, democratic, and friendly Turkey and, more broadly, in the worldwide dissemination of liberal and pluralistic interpretations of Islam.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The Islamic Landscape in Turkey

  • Chapter Three

    The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey

  • Chapter Four

    The AKP in Power

  • Chapter Five

    The AKP's Foreign Policy

  • Chapter Six

    Future Prospects and Implications

This research was sponsored by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and was conducted within the International Security and Defense PolicyCenter of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the Defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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