The U.S.-led attacks against ISIS are criticized by Islamist commentators in Turkey. Ali Bulaç, a leading Islamist intellectual, writes that the attacks lack legitimacy in the eyes of the mainstream Sunni Arab world. Abdülkadir Selvi in the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak writes that Turkey is not going to allow the use of the İncirlik air base in the attacks, as this would expose Turkey to the danger of being attacked by ISIS. Taner Akçam in Taraf writes that it is highly unlikely that Turkey would go to war against ISIS, as the organization is Sunni Islamic. Ergun Babahan on the t24 news site delivers a harsh indictment of the Turkish government, which he accuses of supporting ISIS as a proxy force against the Kurds in Syria.
The question whether or not and to what extent Turkey is going to participate in the fight against ISIS is at the center of the attention of the Turkish columnists after the release of the Turkish hostages held by ISIS. Abdülkadir Selvi in the leading pro-government daily Yeni Şafak writes that Turkey is never going to participate in operations “directed against the Islamic world.” Ali Bayramoğlu, also in Yeni Şafak, writes that Turkey is concerned that the fight against ISIS is going to bestow new legitimacy on Bashar al-Assad, and that the PKK is going to become empowered as a part of the coalition. Ergun Babahan on the t24 news site cites Kurdish news sources that claim that Turkey has been providing weapons and ammunition to ISIS forces that have laid siege on Kobane, and warns that the Kurds cannot be controlled by using the methods of the Cold War.
The question that continues to preoccupy many commentators in the Turkish press is the direction that President Erdoğan is taking Turkey. Baskın Oran, a leading political scientist and pundit, drew a historical parallel to the epochs of Atatürk and the sultan Abdülhamid II, noting that Erdoğan is copying Atatürk in his methods, while copying Abdülhamid II ideologically. Meanwhile, the statement that General Necdet Özel, the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish military, made during the official state reception on August 30 that the military is held in the dark about the peace negotiations between the government and the Kurdish movement and that the military is going to react if its “red lines” are crossed, was welcomed in a comment in the daily Zaman. It was noted that the words of the military deserves to be listened to and that a solution that lacks the support of the armed forces does not stand any chance of success.
Pro-government pundits have declared the advent of a “New Turkey” after the appointment of Ahmet Davutoğlu as the successor of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the leader of the ruling AKP. One commentator described the appointment as one of the most critical thresholds in the realization of the New Turkey project, which is described and celebrated as a comprehensive break with the past century of Turkish history. Dissident commentators warn that Davutoğlu’s vision of a world in which religiously based civilizations clash, and where Turkey aspires to lead the Islamic world, threatens to bring with it cataclysmic effects for Turkey. A more moderate commentator compared the “New Turkey” of Erdoğan to the sheikdom of Dubai.
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.