A clear sense of uneasiness over where Turkey is headed pervades most of the comments in the country’s media. The commentaries in the daily Zaman, the flagship of the Gülenist media, however, express the expectation that Erdogan’s rule is soon going to be over. “Don’t bother about Erdoğan anymore”, writes Mümtaz’er Türköne in Zaman. Others are much more concerned, and observe that the liberalization that Turkey was assumed to have gone through during the last decade is proving to have been an illusion. Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak notes that Turkey still remains deeply resistant to change, because society is sharply polarized; the hard core identity of the separate parts is marked by deep hostility to the others. However, unlikely, albeit transactional, alliances are also struck in the midst of the current upheaval. Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet notes that Erdoğan has turned to the military as an ally in his bid to stamp out the Gülenists.
The shifting alliances in the turbulent Turkish politics are a major topic among the columnists. Gülenist commentators are concerned that the government is inviting back the military to politics, and argue that the spirit of the post-modern coup in 1997 was resuscitated at the recent meeting of the National Security Council, when the Gülen movement was designated as a major national security threat. Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet argues that the decision indeed reflects the common worry of the government and of the General Staff that Gülenist officers may stage a coup. Another concern that is frequently expressed is that the opposition, by building its case against the government on what is being serviced by the Gülenists, is becoming dangerously indebted to them. Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak defends that what constitutes a major threat to democracy in Turkey in the long run is the takeover of the state of the Gülen movement.
The Turkish parliament’s adoption of a law that subordinates the judiciary to the government is sharply criticized by many columnists. Many are also expressing disappointment over the fact that President Abdullah Gül did not return the internet law to parliament. Mehmet Altan, a former supporter of the AKP, writes that Gül has forfeited his chances to be re-elected by rallying to Prime Minister Erdoğan. Orhan Bursalı in the secularist daily Cumhuriyet meanwhile interprets Gül’s non-veto as a sign that he and Erdoğan have reached an agreement. He notes that the authoritarian laws that are now passed strengthen the prime minister, which he sees as a sign that Erdoğan intends to remain in that position and let Gül keep the presidency. The general expectation outside the pro-government dailies is nonetheless that the end is nearing for the AKP regime. Ergun Babahan, formerly a pro-AKP commentator, warns Erdoğan that what has happened in Ukraine can also take place in Turkey.
A consensus is emerging among commentators of different political stripes that the Islamic movement of Turkey is self-destructing. Ali Bulaç, who is a prominent Islamist intellectual, deplores that the “fire” in the rest of the Muslim world has spread to Turkey, “strangely” pitting the AKP and the Hizmet movement, both Sunnis, against each other. “We are committing suicide!” he warns. Other commentators worry about Turkish democracy. Liberal commentator Ahmet İnsel argues that democracy can only be saved if the upcoming local elections result in a defeat for the AKP. Murat Belge, another liberal, disagrees, predicting that the AKP is going to prevail, because the opposition does not represent an alternative for the majority of the electorate.
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.