By Kerem Öktem (vol. 4, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey remains an “Angry nation”, tormented by the many ghosts of its history, some of which still lurk in the shadows. Its political system is characterized by deep polarization, and it is by no means certain that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will go on to dismantle the edifice of state tutelage bequeathed by the “guardians” who have now been put on the defensive as never before in the history of the republic. Yet even if the country’s immediate prospects remain ambiguous, the people of Turkey have nonetheless used the ballot box several times to successfully defy authoritarianism and military diktats. That deserves to serve as an inspiration for others in the Middle East.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
On February 28, 2011, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced that it was abrogating its unilateral ceasefire first declared on August 13, 2010. Initially, the PKK had been expected to continue to abstain from violence until after the June 12, 2011 general election; after which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has pledged to introduce a new, more liberal, constitution. However, recent months have witnessed growing frustration at the AKP’s refusal to clarify what concessions to Kurdish demands will be included in the new constitution; while a large number of Kurdish nationalists have been arrested and prosecuted on poorly substantiated charges.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 4 of the Turkey Analyst)
In the deeply polarized climate that pervades Turkish society, it has become near-impossible to stake out an ideological terrain that would enable the country to come to terms with an authoritarianism that is in fact a generalized phenomenon haunting the country. There is a compulsion to take sides either for the AKP or for the generals, who are convicted or acquitted depending on political preferences. Liberal values, on the other hand, risk being sacrificed as Turkey neglects to take a comprehensive look at its authoritarian past and present.
By Halil M. Karaveli and Svante E. Cornell (vol. 4, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s leaders have embraced the popular revolts in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül publicly urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to respect the will of the people and resign. Yet where authoritarian regimes are Islamic as in Iran and Sudan, Ankara has propped them up and refrained from any criticism; only where Islamists are in opposition has the Turkish government come out in support of change to the status quo and “democracy”. In fact, the AKP foreign policy is in ever clearer terms motivated primarily by Islamic solidarity and ideology. Contrary to expectations that Turkey will serve as a moderate example to emulate for the forces that clamor for change in the Middle East, the convulsions in the Arab world risk giving further impetus to Islamic radicalization in Turkey itself.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
A package of judicial reforms recently submitted to parliament by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) proposes a radical overhaul of the country’s appeal processes. The AKP’s supporters claim that the changes will transform Turkey’s overburdened and largely dysfunctional legal system. The government’s opponents maintain that they represent an attempt by the AKP to pack the court system with its own appointees and destroy the last vestiges of judicial independence.
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.