By Nathan Shachar
July 8, 2016
Whatever dividends the fresh Turkish-Israeli rapprochement will bring, it reveals something fundamental about the new Middle East: the number of unknown variables in this ever less predictable environment is steadily growing, and even the most arrogant and unrepentant leaders will have to eat crow from time to time in order to salvage their national interests. Leaders who stand by their words and their principles will be severely handicapped.
Metin Gürcan in t24 writes the ISIS needs Turkey. ISIS has not yet declared Turkey a war zone. While ISIS is steadily losing ground in Syria and Iraq, Turkey is a centre for it in terms of logistics and finance. I see that the Turkey strategy of ISIS has four different levels: First, it aims to create a division between on the one hand Sunnis who become more Salafist and others, by carrying out acts of violence that increase the already significant tension along the sectarian, ethnic and political fault lines in Turkey. Second, it seeks to ensure that Turkey does not become an active member of the global anti-ISIS coalition by attacking foreigners in Turkey. Third, it seeks to radicalize the Islamist youth in Turkey that has become increasingly alienated from the traditional Islamic structures. Fourth, it will encourage the ideologically radicalized to take radical action, exporting the extremist Salafist groups that it has raised in the Turkish pool abroad. In fact, we can see that ISIS is very good at following the evolution of political Islam in Turkey, in recognizing that it can steal a role in the wake of the power struggle between the AKP and the Gülen fraternity, and as a result of the fact that traditional Turkish Islamism has fared so badly in its encounter with capitalism: this is something that increases the popularity of jihadist Salafist movements among increasingly alienated young Islamists in Turkey.
Nuray Mert in Cumhuriyet foresees that Turkey’s agreement with Russia could have some dire consequences. It is going to be difficult to explain the agreement to the Chechens and Dagestanis who used to get support in Turkey for their fight against Russia. Such people, jihadists, don’t resemble the ordinary AKP voters; they will not necessarily think that the Turkish government knows best, and passively accept its change of course. The agreement with Israel is another story. It is obvious that the reason behind it is that both countries want to counter-balance Iran in the region. Such an alliance is not promising the region peace, but only more sectarian tension, while jeopardizing the Turkish-Iranian ties. Lastly, the promise of citizenship offered by the president to the Syrian refugees in Turkey: this promises to become one of the major problems with regard to the internal political balance in Turkey as a result of the Syrian war. We all know that the issue is an instrument for the policies of Sunnification and that is going to increase the Alevi-Sunni tension in Turkey. Moreover, another dimension of the issue (of Turkish citizenship for Syrians) is related to the Kurdish-Arab balance. All of this demonstrates that the governing mentality refuses to draw any conclusions from what is happening in our country and in our region, and continues to play with (sectarian) fires.
By Gareth H. Jenkins
June 24, 2016
There is currently no clear indication as to when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will leave power but Turkey is now deep into the final – and highly turbulent – stage of his domination of the country’s politics. Even though some features have remained unchanged, Erdoğan has undoubtedly left a lasting impression on both the Turkish state and Turkish society. The fear now is that, as he descends deeper into authoritarianism, Erdoğan will also cause severe damage not only to the social fabric but to what has always been an incipient rather than an established democracy.
Güray Öz in Cumhuriyet writes that it is obvious that the AKP is working to bring about a fundamental regime change, and he says that this aligns with bourgeois class interests. One could say that the objective is to put in place an “eastern despotic” regime that is Sunni Islamic in ideological terms. This will inevitably have certain consequences for those who have so far engaged with Western capital and politics in terms of their economic and cultural relations; they will have to be “persuaded.” In fact, we can observe that the capitalist class is content, that its profits are doubling, and that they are prepared to share their gains (with new business interests.) They may not be fully content with the country’s course, but it will not be difficult to persuade them. What we are talking about is not any resistance of some members of the capitalist class, but of some unease. International “concerns” also fall into this category; international players are busy trying to convince the ruling party and its leader to be more “middle of the road.” Unfortunately, those who could make a difference about where Turkey is headed -- those who defend the interests of popular classes -- are not in any position to influence the country’s course. Unless leftists, progressives and democrats get their act together, “Islamic despotism” will not be easy to dissolve.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.