Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saudi monarch woos Turkey's Islamists

by M K Bhadrakumar from Asia Times Online (Hong Kong)

Riyadh is signaling Turkey's strategic role, and a historical paradox must be noted: Saudi Arabia was the cradle of the "Arab revolt" that sounded the death knell of the Ottoman Empire. It now solicits Turkey's regional role. Turkey, too, is ready to return to the Muslim world after nearly a century's absence. Finding its European Union membership claims stalled, Turkey edges away from Europe ... A growing mutual respect for the different interpretations of Islam partly explains the new proximity (Ottoman Turks used to execute Wahhabis). Saudi Arabia is pleased that observant Muslims are becoming assertive in Turkish society. The Saudi regime feels closeness to the government led by the Islamist AKP that it never could with Turkey's staunchly secularist establishment ... An influx of what Turks call yesil sermaye or green money - from wealthy Islamist businessmen and oil-rich Arab countries - has quietly boosted the AKP's finances over the years.

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