By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
Is there a third way for Turkey, one that would offer an escape from the statist and nationalist authoritarianism to which both Kemalism and Islamism condemns the country? While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has increasingly come to embrace an illiberal approach, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is attempting to move in the opposite direction. However, the assumption that there is still a significant constituency for liberal change to tap into, as was the case a decade ago, when the AKP first came to power and when EU membership beckoned, is a dubious one. History teaches that it is unlikely that Turkey, left to its own devices, will emancipate from illiberalism.
By M. Kemal Kaya and Svante E. Cornell (vol. 5, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
When a special prosecutor attempted to bring in five high intelligence officers (including the head of Turkish intelligence) for questioning, he also cracked the veneer of the AKP’s supposedly consolidated hold on power in the country. Indeed, developments in Turkey since Sadrettin Sarıkaya issued his subpoenas have shown with all clarity a deep split in the ranks of the informal coalition on which the AKP bases its power. That split had thus far been growing but never openly manifested; now, a power struggle between the AKP and the Gülen movement is unraveling. It is unlikely to be easily bridged.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
Most international attention has focused on the more than 100 journalists who are now in jail in Turkey as a result of what they have written or said. But more pernicious – and ultimately much more corrosive to freedom of expression – is the widespread self-censorship and the climate of fear, which extends well beyond the media into Turkish society at large. Yet it would be a mistake to hold the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan solely to blame. The underlying problem goes much deeper and is considerably older than the AKP government. Indeed, it could be argued that the main responsibility for the deteriorating state of freedom of expression in the country lies with the Turkish media itself.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
Internal and external dynamics no longer compel Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to transcend his democratic limits. It was the confluence of a particular set of external and internal dynamics that worked to ensure the Turkish Islamists’ conversion to democracy. These dynamics are no longer at work. Instead, as Turkey’s strategic value – and Erdoğan’s international fame – has soared in the wake of the Arab revolutions, traditional Turkish state authoritarianism is being offered a new lease on life.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 1, 2011, a court in Istanbul formally charged 23 suspects with membership of the Union of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK), an umbrella organization controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and ordered that they be imprisoned pending trial. The suspects included Professor Büşra Ersanlı, a respected academic from Istanbul’s Marmara University, and Ragıp Zarakolu, a prominent publisher and human rights activist. The decision to arrest Ersanlı and Zarakolu is another blow to already fading hopes that the AKP government’s new appetite for confrontation will be replaced by a desire to solve the Kurdish problem through dialogue and conciliation.
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.