By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 22 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 29, 2014, Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) told a visiting delegation from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) that the Kurdish issue could be resolved – and the PKK’s 30 year-old insurgency ended – within four to five months provided that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) took the appropriate measures. In reality, not only is there little prospect of breakthrough but frustration at the lack of progress has begun to highlight the struggle for relevance between different elements within the Kurdish nationalist movement.
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.
By Halil Karaveli (vol. 7, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Turkish generals are no longer afraid to speak out and they exert influence over government policies. Erdoğan invited the military back into the power equation when, faced with the Gülenist challenge to his power, and in need of a new ally, he gave the signal to open the prison doors for the convicted officers. But more than anything else, it is the persistence of an authoritarian mindset that sets the stage for the recurrent assertion of the power of the military in Turkey.
By Burak Bilgehan Özpek (vol. 7, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
The strategies of the Turkish state to deal with the Kurdish question has undergone a dramatic change since the 1990s, but what has remained constant is the state’s stance toward freedom of expression. The ruling party of Turkey has repeatedly demonstrated that it uses lofty goals like democratization to severely restrict the freedom of expression and to suspend the rule of law. “Peace” is another such goal. The AKP’s strategy in the “solution process” with the Kurdish movement rests on keeping the process secret, and stigmatizing and intimidating those who raise questions. The AKP’s strategy indicates that “peace” can be just as viable as a strategy to secure and defend authoritarian power as armed conflict.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 20 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 4, 2014, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek revealed that a total of $800 million would be spent on a new palace and plane for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The announcement has reinforced concerns about not only about Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism but also about his growing absorption into his self-image at the cost of the realities of the world around him.
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.