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Islamist Views on Foreign Policy: Examples of Turkish Pan-Islamism in the Writings of Sezai Karakoç and Necmettin Erbakan

In the case of Turkey, competing foreign policy perspectives have always represented a central issue in the ideological clash between Kemalism and Islamism, revolving around the definition of Turkey’s identity and its future in the international arena. This paper analyzes the foreign policy writings of two dissimilar figures of Turkey’s political Islam, namely Necmettin Erbakan and Sezai Karakoç, both considered central for the development of the Islamist ideology in Turkey. This study explores their texts and detects similitudes revealing their common connection with Turkey’s expression of the Pan-Islamist trend that reemerged during the Cold War. The analysis of these two authors concludes by pointing out the nationalist element characterizing Turkish Islamism –and Turkish Pan-Islamism– in comparison with analogous non-Turkish expressions of this ideology.

Islamist Views on Foreign Policy Examples of Turkish Pan-Islamism in
 

Introduction

The National Outlook movement (NO, Milli Görüş), to which several political parties were affiliated throughout Turkey’s political history, stood for decades as the main representative of Islamism in the country. The national identity envisioned by Milli Görüş had very important implications for the field of foreign relations. During the two decades between the 1960 and the 1980 coups, for the first time in Turkish republican history, new circumstances allowed a free debate on foreign policy issues to emerge.1 The 1961 Constitution allowed a “liberalization of the political spectrum,”2 and the translation of many foreign ideological texts, including the Islamist ones, affected the Turkish context.3 Religion became more visible and important within the country’s political process.4 

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