President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent statement that Muslims were the ones who discovered the Americas have stimulated many commentators to draw parallels to Atatürk who claimed that Turks from Central Asia had founded all the significant civilizations in the world. Murat Belge writes that Atatürk’s “Sun-Language Theory” was no less “ridiculous” than the theory about “Muslims in America.” Fatih Yaşlı disagrees, saying that the early republic and Erdoğan’s new Turkey cannot be compared, as the latter embodies an ambition to install a religiously authoritarian system. Ahmet İnsel writes that one important reason why the AKP has been able to perpetuate its hegemony is the way many modern, secular “progressives” look at people from the lower classes, that they accuse them of selling their votes in return for social welfare benefits. Yüksel Taşkın challenges the claim of Kemalists and many leftists that the liberals were responsible for paving the way for the ascent of the AKP. He writes that Kemalists were chiefly responsible for this, while the trouble for liberals is that they find it difficult to discard the notion that history inexorably progresses toward a positive ending.
President Erdoğan is serious about building a mosque in Cuba and in his allegation that Muslims discovered America before Columbus, contends Fatih Yaşlı. The latest remarks of Erdoğan speak of the ideological nature of his regime, he writes. Mümtaz’er Türköne writes that the new, 1,000 room presidential palace of Erdoğan is a monument to the suspension of the rule of law. Murat Belge observes that ridding Turkey of Atatürkism has not ushered in democracy. A new Turkey will be born the day power holders abandon their palatial ambitions, Belge writes. Elif Çakır worries that there is still a risk of a military coup. Abdülkadir Selvi presents the news that Abdullah Öcalan is going to announce early next year that PKK permanently gives up the armed struggle in Turkey.
The fact that the military has returned to playing a political role in the wake of the Kobane events, with the General Staff making several emotionally charged statements on the Kurdish issue, has started to be noted with growing alarm by some commentators. Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak warns that in a country with Turkey’s history, its political culture, with its deep societal divisions and with ongoing regional developments, the door is not closed to a return of the military. He notes that the Kurdish issue is of critical importance and reminds that what prompted the military return to politics in the 1990s was precisely the Kurdish issue. Other commentators worry about the consequences of regional developments. While pro-government pundits accuse the United States of harboring imperialist designs against Turkey, critics of the government charge that it invites severe troubles by its ideologically motivated refusal to dissociate itself from what ISIS stands for.
Several columnists express concern over Turkey’s future after the violent clashes in the Kurdish parts of the country and the government’s reaction to them. Cengiz Çandar writes that the leadership of the country has not learnt the right lessons and that it is mistaken in thinking that police state methods are going to save the day. Yetvart Danzikyan warns that the methods of the AKP government are inflaming ethnic and sectarian tensions and that the situation could get out of hand. Abdülkadir Selvi writes that Turkey is not going to give in to the pressures of the United States regarding the use of its bases in the fight against ISIS and reminds that Turkey demands that the Sunnis in Syria and Iraq are empowered and that the Assad regime in Syria is removed from power.
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.