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.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
The turmoil in Syria threatens to deprive Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of one of its most significant foreign policy achievements. Since coming to power in 2002, the AKP has achieved a remarkable improvement in relations with Syria as part of its general goal of “zero problems with neighbors” that underpins its foreign policy. Now the upheaval in Syria is straining ties not only between Ankara and Damascus but also between Turkey and Iran. In addition, Turkey could suffer massive economic loses, increased threats to its border and internal security, and a more complicated regional Kurdish problem.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
Foreign and defense policies did not figure prominently in the recent general election in Turkey. Most Turks seem satisfied with the more assertive role that their government has assumed in recent years, while Turkey’s weak opposition parties have yet to offer a coherent foreign policy alternative to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Still, Turkish leaders will not be able to escape foreign and defense issues given Turkey’s dependence on its foreign economic ties and its location as a “front-line” state bordering the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans. The situation in Syria is the most sensitive one for Turkey, and it could notably disrupt Turkey’s otherwise harmonious relations with Iran. Another crucial question is how much pull NATO will exercise over Ankara’s foreign and defense policies.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
In the general election of June 12, 2011, candidates backed by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won 36 seats in Turkey’s 550-member unicameral parliament. On June 21, 2011, the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) stripped Hatip Dicle, one of the successful BDP candidates, of his seat on procedural grounds. On June 23, the BDP announced that it would boycott parliament unless Dicle was reinstated. Over the days that followed, courts in the city of Diyarbakır blocked the release of another five successful BDP candidates. The decisions infuriated the BDP and further antagonized Turkey’s already deeply alienated Kurdish minority. Unless the Turkish government acts quickly, both the BDP’s civil disobedience campaign and the violent insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) appear likely to escalate; with potentially devastating repercussions for Turkey’s social and political stability.
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.