Tuesday, 22 March 2016 18:03

Yaşlı: The worst is yet to come

Fatih Yaşlı in Birgün writes that at first glance, the terror attack in Ankara on March 13 would appear to have been “wrong and a mistake” from the view point of PKK, which has also been pointed out by leftist circles that are close to the Kurdish movement. These make the point that the massacre in Ankara circumscribes the political room of maneuver of the leftist-democrat forces in the west of the country and that it has undermined the position of those who call for a democratic and peaceful resolution of the Kurdish problem. What this criticism overlooks is the fact that the dynamics of war has changed since the state abandoned the “solution process”, and that the PKK – in response to the state violence that has been escalating since then – no longer gives priority to forcing a solution with “democratic” methods. Instead, PKK is spreading the war in the Kurdish areas to the rest of the country. As war has become the way of conducting politics, it leads to new alignments: MHP edges closer to the government, while CHP’s statist reflexes are triggered and the party’s discourse becomes similar to that of the governing party. And we know who’s going to benefit from that.  Unfortunately, we can expect that the worst is yet to come, lest the two sides are bluffing, which they don’t seem to be doing. When the “spring war” intensifies, attacks like these are going to become routine, and with growing polarization in society, there will follow an increased risk that civilians are going to take on each other directly.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 17:58

Özel: This time, Turks are angry

Soli Özel in Habertürk observes that the reaction of the Turkish public to the March 13 terror attack in Ankara has been different, that unlike after previous attacks, panic has spread. Larger society didn’t care much after the first Ankara attack (on October 10, 2015) because those who were killed were Kurds and leftists. Similarly, the second Ankara attack (on February 17, 2016) didn’t either lead to any panic in society because it was understood to be an attack mostly against the state. The January 12 attack in Sultanahmet (in Istanbul) was not either taken too seriously as the victims were “foreigners,” while people in the central, northern and western parts of the country view the physical and human destruction wrought by the ongoing war in the cities in the southeast as legitimate punishment of an “ungrateful” population. In none of these instances, was there any direct impact on the “normal” individuals of society. Now, with the latest Ankara massacre, the daily lives and routines of ordinary citizens were targeted, and that has made larger society angry. Its first reflex is going to be to call for more violence from the state, as if the state hadn’t already amply demonstrated its capability to be violent.

Fehim Işık on the news site Haberdar writes that political Islam, represented by AKP and Erdoğan has succeeded in bringing Kemalist nationalism, represented by Baykal (the former CHP leader) and the Turkic nationalism of MHP together on the shared ground of enmity against the Kurds. And by pulling the army fully to his side, Erdoğan is aiming to make his power eternal. Can he do it? I don’t belong to those who believe that the Kemalist forces of the status quo, sustained by the army, are ever going to offer that opportunity to Erdoğan. That is so because the military and the defenders of status quo are not only against the Kurds but also against the pious. At one point, this alliance is going to end, and it is the Erdoğan side of it that is set to sustain the heavy blow. The military is not going to switch allegiance. It is possible to predict that Kemalist nationalism and Turkic racism are going to be the winners.

Ahmet Altan on the news site Haberdar writes that the army and AKP are working in tandem. Maybe the army is seeking to obtain what it has been trying to do for years by mobilizing the AKP – with its vast majority – behind it. This could be a dream come true for the army, that it now thanks to AKP and its majority can crush the Kurds, the leftists and the religious conservatives outside of AKP so handily. And it could be that AKP is thinking that it makes sense to cooperate with the army in order to force the Kurds to accept a presidential system, to silence its opponents, and wipe out the other religious conservatives from the field. But beware, while cooperating, you run the risk of turning into the force with which you cooperate. While the AKP is turning into an image of the old state, the military is becoming more like the AKP. The daily Cumhuriyet has recently exposed how the army is collaborating with ISIS at the Syrian border. The conservative base of the AKP will not long take the “militarization” of the party; in fact, that is one of the reasons behind the internal fissures that are slowly becoming visible. Meanwhile, the attempt to turn the army into an AKP army could have truly disastrous consequences in terms of the internal cohesion of the military. The Turkish army could split like the Lebanese army.

Oral Çalışlar in Radikal writes that the taking over of the daily Zaman seals the defeat of the Gülen movement. Fethullah Gülen had pushed the button for the arrest of Erdoğan and for the takeover of power. Tayyip Erdoğan did not cave in, he responded by rallying society behind himself. Still, the fraternity refused to concede defeat. They attempted to pursue their power contest with Erdoğan by aligning with other forces of opposition. Now, we are at the point where the “game is over.” This was a political struggle. The fraternity had chosen the path of illegitimate struggle, using the “structure” that it had built up within the state. The resources within the judiciary and the police were used to threaten and to blackmail. And the measures that the government took against them in defense further impaired the judiciary. Did the Gülenists ever stand a chance to win? Had Fethullah hodja planned to return to Turkey and assume power like another Khomeini? Could something like this ever have succeeded? No, Turkey is not a kind of a society where such a project could have worked. And now there is no way back from the defeat that has destroyed the Gülen movement.

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Analysis Svante E. Cornell, A Road to Understanding in Syria? The U.S. and TurkeyThe American Interest, June 2018

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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.

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