By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)
On August 28, 2012. Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), declared that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had usurped the authority of the Turkish state over an area of 400 square kilometers of the district of Şemdinli, close to the Iraqi border. The claim was exaggerated, in terms of geographical extent and the degree of PKK control. But there is little doubt that in recent months the Turkish security forces have been losing ground on the battlefield. However, even if the military eventually regains the upper hand, in the longer term Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s insistence on pursuing hard-line policies seems likely only to strengthen the PKK, More critically, the continuing rise in anti-Kurdish racism and ethnic violence suggests that, whatever happens in the PKK insurgency, an even more important war could be lost.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey would make a significant contribution to the resolution of the Syrian crisis if it could bring itself to rise above the sectarian considerations that have dictated its regime change policy in Syria. So far, however, Turkey’s intervention in the Syrian civil war has demonstrated how Turkey’s lack of “democratic depth” disables a constructive foreign policy in the service of stability and democratic reform in a region that was supposed to be Turkey’s “strategic depth”.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
On August 4, 2012, Turkish President Abdullah Gül sought to quell speculation about tensions with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the 2014 presidential election by publicly declaring that their relationship was “bound by the law of brotherhood”. He dismissed questions about whether he was planning to stand for re-election, commenting that two years was a long time. “When the time comes, we shall sit down together, talk and make a joint decision about the best thing to do” he said. However, beneath the fraternal façade, Erdoğan’s ambitions to succeed Gül as president and then replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with a presidential one have seen the already strained relations between the two men deteriorate to the point of mutual hostility, as each maneuvers for advantage in preparation for a potential power struggle.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
After Syria’s downing of a Turkish aircraft over the eastern Mediterranean, the question is not so much why Syria shot it down as why the two neighbors have become embroiled in a confrontation in the first place; more precisely why the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey decided to commit itself to bringing about regime change in Syria, by which it assumed significant risks. That choice speaks of the impact that sectarian reflexes is increasingly having on Ankara’s foreign policy. What beckons enticingly for Turkey’s ruling Sunni conservatives is a pro-Turkish “Sunni crescent”, stretching from Gaza over Syria to northern Iraq. However, Turkey courts danger by assuming the role as a leading Sunni power in the sectarian confrontation in the Middle East.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Turkey’ ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is reverting to its Islamist roots. Flexing his Islamist muscles, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expects to keep the conservative core constituency mobilized behind him. However, the AKP’s new-old Islamism is in fact not in tune with the dynamics of societal change that has upheld its power until now. The attempt to institute another regime of tutelage, this one Islamic, is bound to alienate crucial constituencies for the AKP -- the liberal seculars, obviously, but modern conservatives as well. The AKP seems set to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
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.