The trajectory of a pro-Western “moderate Islam”
The “moderate Islam” that has developed in Turkey could play a role in shaping the outcome of the Arab revolt that began in 2011. The modern Turkish state established by Atatürk after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire had to find ways to integrate Islam politically. Turkey was a lateindustrialising country and the Islamic political current tended to have an anti-Western, antiliberal profile on this account. Two tendencies within Turkish political Islam are distinguished: one connecting religion to economic nationalism, the other primarily cultural and willing to accommodate to neoliberalism. The 1980 military coup geared the country to neoliberalism and cleared the way for this second tendency to rise
to power through the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of R.T. Erdo ˘gan. For the West and the Gulf Arab states the export of this model to the Arab countries destabilised in the popular revolt
would amount to a very favourable outcome. Gulf Arab capital was already involved in the opening up of state-controlled Arab economies, including Syria. Although the situation is still in flux, by
following the Turkish model Muslim Brotherhood governments could potentially embrace political loyalty to the West and neoliberal capitalism.
Kees van der Pijl is a fellow of the Centre for Global Political economy and professor emeritus in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex. His publications include The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class (new edition 2012, first published 1984), Transnational Classes and International Relations (1998), Global Rivalries from the Cold War to Iraq (2006), Nomads, Empires, States (2007) and The Foreign Encounter in Myth and Religion (2010).