By Halil Gürhanlı
April 7, 2016
With the refugee deal with EU, the regime in Turkey earns the silence of its European critics as the country proceeds towards complete authoritarianism. The EU leaders get to have their cake and eat it too, outsourcing gate-keeping while maintaining the moral upper-hand. However, this is a joint “achievement” gained at the expense of millions of Syrian refugees. It tarnishes EU’s status as a normative power. Meanwhile, Turkey is also a loser, as it will not be politically and financially compensated for carrying the refugee burden.
Etyen Mahçupyan in Karar writes that it is obvious that ISIS has an understanding of Islam that leads it to see Turkey as an enemy, and that it intends to incite such an Islamic understanding inside Turkey. But at the same time, it is also clear that ISIS does not want to wholly be at odds with Turkey. Ultimately, it wants to be accepted as a force to bargain with in Syria and Iraq. Thus, even though they don’t hinder uncontrolled acts and though they may even resort to using violence as part of a strategy of “warning,” they have to get along with Turkey, insofar as they want to be a permanent force to reckon with in the region. The PKK’s position is no different. It’s easy to declare cantons (in Syria) when a war is raging, but much more difficult to sustain these when peace arrives… It’s obvious that you cannot categorically trust the U.S., Russia or Germany. In other words, when we pass on to the next stage in Syria, Turkey’s view of an eventual Kurdish entity is going to be a crucial factor… And what is at least as critical as this factor is the fact that the PKK runs the risk of alienating its sociological base in Turkey if it escalates the violence. In short, the two terror groups that Turkey is facing are in fact in need of Turkey’s “acceptance…” We can predict that both organizations are going to want to resort to violence in order to bring Turkey to the point that they desire, but that they at the end of the day are going to want to keep Turkey by their sides. As a new table is being set in Syria, the number of groups that would like to have violence in Turkey is thus decreasing, not increasing.
Nuray Mert in Cumhuriyet writes that the opposition circles dangerously put their faith in chaos to get rid of the government. It is dangerous to hope that chaos is going to weaken the regime, instead of engaging in a serious struggle for democracy. Not only is an international isolation of Turkey not the solution that the opposition circles think; it will also provoke more extreme reactions from the regime. Which country has so far fared good after its leader was declared a “dictator?” We see what end that has befallen these countries. In such situations, the whole country crumbles together with the regime. None of the paths of the opposition offers any hope for the future: not the extreme nationalism of MHP, with its hostility to the Kurds; not the Kurdish movement, which is only provoking the regime to be more repressive and Turkish nationalist; not the democrats and liberals who simply put faith in anything that they think is going to weaken the regime.
Levent Gültekin in Diken notes that Tayyip Erdoğan has polarized society. He has a done a lot of harm to those that he has treated as the “others.” Now there is a great rage against him in an important part of society. But at the same time, another part of society is reflexively defensive and protective of him, saying “The Westerners are out to get Erdoğan, but we are not going let him be sacrificed.” They see everyone that is angry at Erdoğan as an “enemy.” We need reason so that this anger and the fanatic support together don’t bring about a major disaster for society. The question has ceased to be about getting rid of Tayyip Erdoğan. The real issue is how a transition is going to be enabled, who is going to reassemble the country, and how internal peace is going to be reconstituted. What matters most, Tayyip Erdoğan or Turkey? That is, what is the priority: putting out the fire, or punishing the one who lit the fire? This choice is going to determine how the country’s course after Tayyip Erdoğan is going to look. This is no time to act with emotion, impulses and rage.
Ergun Babahan in Özgür Düşünce writes that it is becoming increasingly clear that the Palace wants to have a big purge in the ranks of the military. It is equally clear that the general staff is resisting this. The pro-palace media provoked a reaction from the general staff by its recent stories claiming that “Gülenist officers in the armed forces are going to carry out a coup.” The General staff denied these allegations in a forceful language, stating that “no one can take action outside the chain of command.” This stance amounted to checking the demands for a purge. In fact, the fight is not really about the issue of the Gülenists, but about the relations to the United States and NATO. This is not an exclusive AKP operation, but a plan that is being implemented jointly with the neo-nationalists, the ulusalcı. The ulusalcı are attempting to regain the positions within the armed forces that they lost with the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases. The aim is to purge the cadres that have been on NATO duty in Brussels and Pentagon, and that are deemed to be close to the Western culture. Thus, it is not a question of purging Gülenists; what is taking place is a fight between the pro-NATO and ulusalcı cadres of the military. If the latter prevail, the command chain of the armed forces for years to come will be refashioned in accordance with the wishes of the ulusalcı. We are witnessing a fight that is going to determine Turkey’s place in the world.
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.