By Gareth H. Jenkins
September 18th, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
The recent spate of violent protests by Turkish ultranationalists – including attempted lynchings of ethnic Kurds -- and the attacks by government supporters on the Hürriyet newspaper have reinforced already serious concerns about both the deepening fissures in Turkish society and the continuing weakening of the rule of law in the country.
Yavuz Baydar in Bugün writes that the assaults against media are part of the strategy of the AKP to ensure that the November 1 election yields a three-party parliament, without the HDP, with the AKP’s majority restored. Ömer Laçiner in Birikim warns that the election campaign threatens to be Turkey’s historically most violent one. Korkut Boratav on the sendika.org site writes that there is no reason to expect that finance capital is going to precipitate the fall of AKP from power by deserting Turkey. Ertuğrul Özkök in Hürrriyet observes that the new Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar made very unusual, ethnic references, to a supposed Turkish identity of the state of Turkey, in his Victory Day speech. Ali Bulaç in Zaman writes that Turkey’s participation in the Western war against IS amounts to waging war against Muslims, that this has no Islamic legitimacy, besides being politically and militarily wrong.
Ali Bulaç in Zaman asks what Turkey stands to gain from joining the United States in its war against the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey will gain nothing! Let us imagine that northern Syria is cleared from ISIS. What is the U.S. going to deploy there in its place? It is of course not going to hand the place to al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamic organization. It is very clear that Kurdish PYD is going to be deployed in the place of ISIS. And does not the PYD equal the PKK? The war against ISIS is not only fought against an organization, but it is a war against a Sunni Arab population that Turkey has committed itself to fight alongside and for the sake of the West! No one is approving what ISIS is doing. If ISIS is harming Islam and the Muslims, then the way to stop this is not to shoulder the role of the gendarme of the U.S. There are other ways to do it, in accordance with the codes and dynamics of the region. But there is right now no reasonable ground for declaring war against IS. The massacre in Suruç, that the ISIS has not taken responsibility for, is a very murky operation! ISIS has established authority over an area which is inhabited by millions of Muslims. That Turkey wageals war against a Muslim population represents a first in the history of the Republic. This has no Islamic legitimacy, and it is politically and militarily wrong.
Ertuğrul Özkök in Hürrriyet writes that the speech that the new Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar delivered on Victory Day August 30 is the most interesting one in recent years. Reading the speech, I noted many interesting things – the rise of the references to being “Turkish.” The expression “Turk” is mentioned in fourteen different places. The definition of the “Turkish hearth” is made in especially stark terms: The speech states that the battle at Manzikert in 1071 confirmed “Anatolia as the Turkish hearth.” And the most notable expression is the way General Akar refers to our state, as “Turkish Republic.”. I looked up the constitution at the official site of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey: There, the official expression reads “The constitution of the Republic of Turkey…” In our system, in two very important places, the expression “Turkey,” and not “Turkish” is employed: “The Grand National Assembly of Turkey” and “The Republic of Turkey…” And that is indeed very right.
Korkut Boratav on the sendika.org site writes that there is a curious expectation among liberal and some leftist circles that Turkey, because it is supposedly one of the most fragile of the emerging markets, faces the threat of the desertion of financial capital as the world economy has become volatile, and that this is supposedly going to bring about the end of the AKP power. First of all, there is no ground for saying that the fragility of the Turkish economy is bound to produce an immediate crisis. Secondly, financial capital is not against the AKP. In the current global economic conjuncture, Turkey is in fact in a more favorable position than the energy exporting economies of the periphery like Russia that are especially hard hit. Turkey on the contrary benefits from the fall of the price of oil, which helps to slow down the growth of its current account deficit; the low budget deficit ensures that Turkish state bonds remain reliable instruments of investment. Chronic vulnerabilities do cause the Turkish economy to slow down during 2015, leading it toward a path of zero growth; however, the expectation of a dramatic crisis erupting before the election does not seem realistic. And what about the political uncertainties that the AKP causes? What about the possibility of Turkey becoming an Islamic fascist regime? Does finance capital care? The AKP’s string of electoral and referendum victories have led finance capital to pour money into the Turkish stock market and into Turkish state bonds.
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.