By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
On October 1, 2011, 25 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and five pro-Kurdish independents were formally sworn in as members of the Turkish parliament, abandoning a three month-old boycott of the assembly in protest at the continued imprisonment of another five BDP candidates who had won seats in the June 12, 2011, general election. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had already announced that its priority over the months ahead will be the drafting of a new constitution. The decision by the thirty pro-Kurdish deputies to take up their seats in parliament has raised hopes of a sustained dialogue with the AKP and the possible inclusion in the new constitution of sufficient concessions to solve Turkey’s Kurdish problem and persuade the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to lay down its arms. However, although the presence of the pro-Kurdish deputies in Ankara does create the opportunity for dialogue and a short-term reduction in tensions, there currently appears little prospect of the AKP agreeing to the Kurdish nationalists’ minimum demands.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
As the Turkish-Kurdish conflict escalates, the release of a 50-minute tape recording of a meeting between leading officials of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has supplied insights into the strategy of the Turkish government. The effort to explore a peaceful solution was doomed because ultimately the ruling AKP has not disengaged from Turkish state tradition. The AKP state does have a more tolerant approach than the defunct Kemalist state, but it is nonetheless still a patronizing state that expects societal obedience. The AKP government thus never engaged in an earnest negotiation with the Kurdish representatives.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
Attacks carried out by Kurdish separatists since mid-July have set Turkey on the road to war. The Turkish government is determined to exact a heavy price from the Kurdish insurgents, and the PKK militants seem to be as determined to provoke an ethnic conflagration. As he is about to teach the Kurdish insurgents a severe lesson, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faces what could be the greatest challenge of his career. The question is if the unparalleled power and authority that Erdoğan has assembled will ultimately suffice to secure Turkey’s unity.
By M. K. Kaya (vol. 4, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, will have to adopt a whole new discourse and appropriate a new political mission if it is going to be a force that has any political relevance. The CHP can choose one of two paths: It can either change, becoming a party that is in tune with the political aspirations of a vibrant society for which old dogmas hold little appeal. Or it will resist change, refusing to heed where society is headed; in that case, it will share the fate of the Russian Communist Party. It will be an embittered force of opposition to the evolution of modern Turkish society, a party that has nothing to offer but its history. It is more probable that the CHP will follow down the second, desolate path.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
The resignations on July 29, 2011, of the Turkish chief of staff and all three force commanders are without precedent in modern Turkish history. They were portrayed in the most of the international media as the military’s final admission of defeat in a long-running political power struggle with the civilian government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In reality, any contest for power had long since been decided in favour of the AKP. The resignations were a product of the period that followed – not preceded or accompanied – the AKP’s assertion of supremacy; namely, a protest against what the military regarded as the AKP’s abuse of its monopoly of political power to persecute and imprison hundreds of members of the officer corps.
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.