Turkey is a Muslim nation with a very different recent past than more religiously orthodox Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iran. Modern Turkey, founded by Kemal Ataturk, is a secular nation oriented towards the West; Islam is subsumed to a private role, and Turkey's leaders turn to Europe and the United States more than to Asia or the Middle East. Nevertheless, this is a vision of Turkey that is not universally appreciated; Islamic fundamentalists constantly challenge the secular government and demand a more Islamic state. Turkish authorities, especially in the powerful army, will nullify any elections where Islamicist candidates challenge too strongly the secular state. Islamic fundamentalists in Turkey also repudiate the government's support of the United States and Israel. Turkey is a major country on the world stage, and its future appears promising; nevertheless, there is no widespread consensus in Turkey as to what is the "right way" for the nation, and intractable polemics present that could erupt into major crises.
Questions to keep in mind: What is the difference between Turkey before Kemal Atatuk and the nation afterwards? How did Ataturk make Turkey secular? How did Turkish society change? What have been the major challenges to the modern Turkish state in the 1960's and 1970's? What is the role of the army in Turkey? How have Islamicist parties challenged the secular government? What type of government and society do the Muslims want in Turkey? What of the Kurds? What is the response of the government to the Islamicist parties? What is Turkey role in NATO and amidst the Middle East? Who are its friends? Enemies? What does Turkey's vision of its economy in the 21st century? What about Turkey and membership in the European Common Union?
Start here and read everything at: Turkey at Yahoo! and here. Also check out all the links at Open Directory's Turkey section. Get good basic Turkey information at the CIA World Factbook. Range far and wide in search of information over the World Wide Web!
Read all about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. Check this link out also as well as the related links on the page; read all about how Ataturk transformed Turkey with reform, growth, education, women's rights, etc.
Also check out this excellent CNN section about the Kurds, Abdullah Ocalan, and Turkey. Read an article about how it is presently in Turkey's interest to reconcile with its Kurds.
This is a very nuanced view of the predicament Turkey faces in between the Muslim and Western worlds.
Turkey at the crossroads: The government seeks to turn around its abysmal human-rights record and gain European Union membership.
Check out all these Jim Lehr Newshour reports (carefully attention to Kurds and Ocalan):
June 29, 1999 -- Death Sentence Two experts discuss discuss today’s death sentence verdict in Turkey’s trial of Abdullah Ocalan.
September 24, 1996 -- Turkish "Sea Change" Turkey's foreign minister, Tansu Ciller, discusses the Kurdish crisis, and her country's oft misunderstood role in Middle East power politics.
September 10, 1996 -- The Enemy Within Rival Kurdish factions continue to make deals with former enemies in order to control Northern Iraq. Kurdish Democratic Party troops, backed by Saddam Hussein, marched into Sulaimaniya as thousands fled for nearby mountains and the Iranian border. The move is seen as a strategic victory for Saddam, and is likely to guarantee instability in the region. A background report is followed by a discussion with two Iraq experts in the US.
NPR broadcasts: Turkey and Divisions, Turkey and Secular vs. Religious, Turkey and Middle East Politics, Oclam and His Trial, The Kurdish Question, Kurds: The Enemy Within, Who Are the Kurds?
Turkey Hizbollah -- Chris Morris reports from Ankara that Turkish authorities are cracking down on the militant Islamic group, Hizbollah, following the discovery of more than 30 bodies in mass graves around the country. Police have rounded up hundreds of suspected Hizbollah members. The Turkish military sees radical Islam as the country's main security problem, now that the threat of Kurdish separatism is subsiding. But many analysts see links between Hizbollah and the war against Kurdish insurgents -- links that could prove embarrassing to the government. (4:15)