By Aliza Marcus (vol. 8, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
Kurdish voters abandoned the ruling AKP in Turkey's national elections, propelling the Kurdish HDP into parliament and giving Kurdish nationalist demands a new legitimacy. Earlier, critics could argue the PKK did not really represent the majority of Kurds in Turkey, but that argument is getting weaker by the day. The HDP's win can be ascribed, in large part, to a boost in backing for the PKK. The question is whether the parties and people who want more rights and freedoms will realize that Kurdish rights, autonomy and likely freedom for Abdullah Öcalan must be part of this to truly make Turkey into a liberal place.
İbrahim Karagül, the editor in chief of Yeni Şafak, writes that AKP’s enemies in the West, the Fethullah Gülen fraternity, big business in Turkey and the “Gezi saboteurs” have formed an alliance to overthrow the Turkish government by starting an Alevi uprising. He writes that the terrorist group DHKP-C has been charged with the function as the armed wing of this alleged coalition and that the killing of a prosecutor in Istanbul last week was the first act in a scheme to start a sectarian violence. Mümtazer Türköne in Zaman writes that terrorism is going to benefit the AKP government and he asks “What acts of terrorism are you planning during the run-up to the elections?” He writes, “The martyrdom of the prosecutor was a cause for great satisfaction among the ruling circles.” Hakan Aksay on the t24 news site notes with alarm that Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish HDP in a speech recently evoked the risk that he might be killed during the election campaign. Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet argues that the Kurds are going to consent to the introduction of presidential system that Erdoğan covets, in return for recognition of their identity and autonomy, but that AKP-PKK are never going to be able to impose their constitution on a majority that resists it.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 8, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
On March 20, 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly criticized the announcement by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that it was planning to establish a monitoring committee to oversee discussions about reforms on the Kurdish issue. On March 21, 2015, Government Spokesperson Bülent Arınç bluntly told Erdoğan not to interfere in the running of the government. Arınç repeated his admonition the following day. It was the first time that a leading member of the AKP had issued such an outspoken public challenge to Erdoğan’s authority.
Abdülkadir Selvi in Yeni Şafak asks what’s happening to the AKP, and warns that the spell of the party as the symbol of stability is being broken. Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that the exposure of an internal power struggle no doubt creates certain question marks in the minds of voters, but that the impact on voter behavior is marginal. What matters more, he writes, are the mounting economic problems and the impression that the government is surrendering to PKK. Kadri Gürsel in Milliyet writes that AKP will lose either Kurdish voters or Turkish nationalists in the upcoming elections, depending on whether it is Erdoğan or the government that sets the course, and that regardless, Erdoğan’s dreams of presidential rule is going to be the casualty. Oya Baydar on the t24 news site draws attention to a belligerent ultimatum that was issued by the General Staff in response to the Newroz message of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Baydar warns that military tutelage is making a comeback.
By Burak Bilgehan Özpek (vol. 8, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s bid to concentrate all power to himself has increased the skepticism and reluctance among the representatives of the Kurdish political movement and among liberals. The suspicion is widespread in Turkey that the “solution process” of the Kurdish problem is going to pave the way for a fully authoritarian government. What many fear is that Erdoğan is using the solution process and the promise of Kurdish peace as instruments in his bid to consolidate his position as the unchecked leader of the country.
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.