By Gareth H. Jenkins
March 8, 2016
Former President Abdullah Gül’s recent decision to adopt a higher public profile and meet with known dissidents from inside the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has triggered a flurry of speculation that his successor, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, may be about to face a serious challenge to his flailing attempts to tighten his grip on power.
Murat Belge in Birikim writes that the reigning mentality in Turkey is that tension is the best ally of rulers. Tayyip Erdoğan saw that declaring war on the Kurds would give him back what he had lost, and he made those who called for stern measures against the Kurds happy. Tayyip Erdoğan had also decided to make peace with the neo-nationalists with whom he had been jarring until recently. After the parting of ways with the Gülenists, there is a potential to make peace with the Kemalists, or at least with some of them. When the Kurds are struck, some of the nationalists who hate the AKP can’t help but to be happy about it and they start thinking that the AKP may have some “positive” sides. Can these circles forget, let alone pardon, all those “Sledgehammers” and “Ergenekons?” I don’t think so. But this is the world of politics. It may be necessary to store away some problems for a while; and then, when you have become sufficiently strong, you think that you will extract them again. For the time being, this is the prevailing mood among those circles. So, can we thus conclude that Tayyip Erdoğan has gotten his “rose garden without thorns?” Well, history has never seen any such “rose garden.” What a look at the facts tells us is that these policies of tension and quarrel that Tayyip Erdoğan has made so much use of have confined him to a terrain that is becoming increasingly narrow.
Mümtazer Türköne in Zaman writes that the Kurdish issue was the most important reason for the survival of the AKP in government, but that the way the state views the party has changed after the PKK was allowed to stockpile arms and ammunition in the cities during the solution process. Ultimately, the AKP was tolerated by the military, the bureaucracy and the judiciary – after they had struggled for a long while against it – because the continued rule of a party that could get votes all across Turkey was also a gurantee for keeping the state in one piece. But during the solution process, the PKK was able to become entrenched in the cities, stockpiling arms and ammunition there. Carelessness and deliberate mistakes let this happen, and it amounts to treason. Now, those who were responsible for these mistakes are going to pay for them. The current security bureaucracy and the provincial governors who issued the orders of non-intervention against the PKK in the face of reports that it was stockpiling arms are going to be seated next to each other as accused at the coming mass trial. That is the only way for the state to put its house back in order.
By Gareth H. Jenkins
February 1st, 2016, The Turkey Analyst
The sustained clashes in urban areas that have wracked southeast Turkey in recent months mark a new stage in the decades-old insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and threaten to escalate into a full-blown civil war. Although it is still not too late to pull the country back from the brink, neither the Turkish government nor its Western allies appear aware of the extent of the danger that it is facing.
Etyen Mahçupyan in Akşam writes that a new form of modern religiosity emerged in the 1990’s, and that the AKP’s rule has given the new, modern conservative identity a great impetus. The socioeconomic base of this identity is the greater prosperity, urbanization and the growth of the middle class. The nuclear families are becoming standard among the segment of population that has Islamic sensitivities, tending to the needs of children and nourishing their capabilities is increasingly given priority in these families, and new patterns of consumption affect everything from health to leisure activities. This globalization of consumption patterns creates a new world in which the bonds of the traditional religious fraternities wither, where individualism becomes the norm, and where personal interests and relations widen to include different socio-cultural constructions… This new wave of change has a critical impact on the political level. Even though the “new” modern conservatives are still not dominant numerically, they are nonetheless qualitatively absolutely essential… That is so because without their support, AKP cannot keep power, and they are the Islamic segment that reacts to the stances of the party more quickly than any other segment. Furthermore, this is a segment that is growing very rapidly… They are perhaps the only democratic group in terms of what modern democracy needs… For this reason, one can probably predict that this segment is where democracy is going to become entrenched and mature.
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.