The historic developments in Tunisia and Egypt have triggered debate about the future direction of political leadership in those countries. Some analysts question whether Egypt will follow an “Iranian model,” with Islamic extremists eventually taking control of the government. Others speak of a possible “Turkish model,” where Islamist influence has not been as extreme or pervasive. Given Turkey’s moderate Islamic government and its long experience with democracy, secularism, and military interventions, interest in the “Turkish model” is growing. Questions remain, however, about the shape and substance of that model and whether it can be applied to other nations in the Middle East and beyond.
On February 28, the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings (CUSE) hosted a discussion of the characteristics of the Turkish model and the recent developments in the Arab world. Panelists included Steven Cook, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; Semih İdiz, columnist for Milliyet; Henri Barkey, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment and professor at Lehigh University; and Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Ömer Taşpınar. The event was organized in partnership with the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD).
Senior Fellow and CUSE Director Fiona Hill provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, the panelists took audience questions.