Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What the Columnists Say

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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.


Fatih Yaşlı in Yurt writes that Erdoğan does not see himself as simply a political leader, but as the custodian of a nation that he believes has not yet attained adulthood and that is thus unable to tell what’s good or bad, right or wrong. We saw this most recently in his warning to citizens who smoke. His claim that “Muslims discovered America before Columbus, a mosque would fit Cuba” should be seen in a similar light. These words are neither an expression of delusion nor do they amount to an attempt to divert attention from other, for Erdoğan supposedly embarrassing political issues. Erdoğan does not see himself as just the president of a state; he sees himself as a leader who is creating a new nation, and as a leader who speaks for the world’s Muslims. Just as the historical narrative was adapted to this need when a secular nation was being created during the 1930s, presenting the Turks as part of the Western civilization, so is a historical narrative being constructed that serves the interests of the present attempt to create a “Sunni nation”, with an emphasis on the “Muslim civilization.”  When the desire to become the leader of the Muslims of the world is added to this, we get the fantasy of “erecting a mosque in a socialist country.” Erdoğan’s and the AKP regime’s discourse and actions regarding everything from smoking and drinking to abortion and history are expressions of the ideological character of the new regime. Therefore, stop smoking – we are yet to build a mosque in Cuba!


Mümtaz’er Türköne in Zaman writes that what makes the scandal of AK-Saray, the new presidential palace of Erdogan, so outrageous is that it’s a case that illustrates that the rule of law has been suspended. More important than the money that has been spent is the fact that that building has been built in violation of the law. When faced with the court ruling, Erdogan challenged the court by saying “let them come and erase it if they’ve got the power to do it.” Only a palace like this would fit someone who as president is usurping power that is not vested in his office by the constitution and the laws. The power of the state is being exploited for personal gains. If it is possible to build this palace and reign in it, then that means it is possible to get away with any kind of graft. Only by living in such a magnificent palace can you send the message to the country and the world that “all power belongs to me.” The annals of history do not record any example of right and justice having entered through palatial gates.


Murat Belge in Taraf writes that the culture of democracy has never been established in Turkey. Because of the coups, the democratic institutions never had the chance to sink deep roots. Without tearing down the intellectual walls that were erected in the name of Atatürkism, this country could not possibly evolve toward a democracy. However, during the last years we have witnessed that abandoning Atatürk and Atatürkist notions and practices do not ensure that we get change and embark on a democratic evolution either. To refuse to take up residence in the presidential mansion that Atatürk had commissioned, instead moving into a new “palace” does not mean that you have transited to a “new” Turkey. What it means is just that you have endowed these lands with yet another new, ugly building. For something “new” to flourish in our lives, maybe it is above all necessary to give up the habit of building palaces.


Elif Çakır in Star asks if General Necdet Özel, the Chief of the General Staff, would stage a coup. Here is a Chief of the General Staff that since he assumed office, has tried to side with democracy and who has been trying to work in harmony with the elected government. I am saying that he has been “trying” because I do not know if he behaves like this because he truly believes in respecting the elected government, the will of the people, or because he has had no other option. For the time being, that question cannot be answered. The culture of the institution where he has been formed, the education he has received, what has been whispered into his ears for years –  “You are the real owner of this country” –  all this background creates question marks. Nonetheless, when I look at the behavior of Özel Pasha as Chief of the General Staff, I’m prepared to conclude, “No he’d never attempt to stage a coup. He represents a chance for Turkey.” But still, this cursed worry within me makes me think “It’s better to be cautious.”


Abdülkadir Selvi in Yeni Şafak writes that Turkey is about to enter a critical stage of the process to solve the Kurdish problem. Kobane has taught us that we have to move quickly and speed up the process. This is because the process faces two very powerful threats. Chief among them is the U.S. that has returned to the region, using ISIS as an excuse. This is not the U.S. that packaged Öcalan and handed him over to us. On the contrary, we are facing a U.S. that is putting pressure on us, demanding to be included as the “third eye” in the process. The second threat is the force that has the arms, that is Kandil, the headquarters of PKK… The relations that Kandil has established with the U.S. over Kobane are the gravest threat to the future of the solution process. The months of February or March of 2015 are going to witness historic developments regarding the solution of the Kurdish problem, provided that the process is not sabotaged by the U.S.-Kandil alliance. According to the “road map” that has been agreed upon with Öcalan, in February, the PKK’s congress is going to convene and decide to “abandon the armed struggle on the territory of Turkey.” Then on March 21, 2015, the decision that the armed struggle has been abandoned and that the struggle henceforth will be pursued politically is going to be announced on the square of Diyarbakır.

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Op-ed Lawrence Stutzriem and Svante Cornell "Turkey and Qatar's Support for Extremist Groups", Realcleardefense, May 23, 2017

Article Halil Karaveli "Turkey's Authoritarian Legacy", Cairo Review of Global Affairs,  May 1, 2017

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Assasination in Ankara"Foreign Affairs, January 3, 2017

Essay Halil M. Karaveli "Erdogan's Journey"Foreign Affairs, October 19, 2016

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Turkey's Fractured State", The New York Times, August 1, 2016

Op-ed Svante E. Cornell "A botched coup and Turkey’s descent into madness", Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, July 19, 2016

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "Turkey's Decline", Foreign Affairs, March 2, 2016.

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "La Turquie, est-elle destinée à durer?", Centre for International Policy Studies, January 27, 2016.

Monograph Eric Edelman, Svante Cornell, Aaron Lobel, Halil Karaveli, "Turkey Transformed: The Origins and Evolution of Authoritarianism and Islamization under the AKP", Bipartisan Policy Center, October 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell and M.K. Kaya, "The Naqshbandi-Khalidi Order and Political Islam in Turkey", Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, September 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell, "Understanding Turkey's Tilt", Journal of International Security Affairs, no. 27, Winter 2014.

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.


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