By Nicholas Danforth
October 17, 2016
Turkey's July 15 coup attempt has transformed the country's politics, and notably it has deepened a dangerous pre-existing dilemma. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faces rival challenges from a Kurdish nationalist movement with a longstanding commitment to violence and a nationalistic Turkish electorate which opposes the concessions that will be necessary to make peace with the Kurds. This triangular tension means that Turkey will face a series of trade-offs, setting the country's embattled prospects for peace and democracy against one another.
Hasan Cemal in t24 notes that Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has stated that 1915 was “an ordinary event, something that happened during the First World War, and which was something that can happen in any country.” 1915 is not an ordinary event. It is “genocide.” Yet am I surprised that Yıldırım has made such a statement? Not really. Today, we see an alliance of Islamists and nationalists forming. Erdoğan has joined hands with Bahçeli (the MHP leader), Ergenekon, the military and the Kemalist nationalists. They all agree on nearly every issue, especially about the Kurdish issue and PKK. When the immunity of the parliamentarians was lifted, they also included Kılıçdaroğlu (the CHP leader) among their ranks. The question of 1915 is another point where they agree. This is a strange kind of Islamist-nationalist alliance. It is extremely dangerous. It is an alliance that is going to divide the country even more, and that will split it. It is a coalition that threatens to pave the way for a much more violent internal fighting, with political assassinations and provocations in its trail. And where is CHP in this “alliance?” There seems to be confusion in the party about its belonging. Yet it’s nonetheless obvious that the Kemalist nationalists in the party are appealed by this alliance when it comes to taking stands in the Kurdish issue, toward PKK, 1915, and the “parallel structure” (i.e. the Gülenists…) Turkey is charging fully ahead in the Islamist-nationalist coup process. Unless a democratic front is formed against it, it will inflict ever more pain on the country and cause much more bloodshed.
By Halil Karaveli
June 6, 2016
The celebration of the conquest of Constantinople 1453 is an expression of Turkey’s quest for purity. The “ideology of conquest,” the need to symbolically and repeatedly reclaim what has been Ottoman and Turkish for centuries, ultimately speaks of an existential unease with a historical legacy that is marked by a heterogeneity that is unsettling for an authoritarian state that seeks uniformity. The need to celebrate the conquest of the most important city of the land shows that Turkey is yet to become reconciled with its past. Such reconciliation calls for assuming the entirety of what is a multi-layered historical legacy. Recognizing that Turkey is the result, not so much of conquest, as of a history of continuous mixing and assimilation of aboriginal cultures and state traditions, is also the key to coming to terms with country’s ethnic and cultural diversity today and securing a democratic future for Turkey.
Özgür Mumcu in Cumhuriyet notes that the presence of the chief of the general staff, General Hulusi Akar, as a witness as the wedding of Sümeyye Erdoğan, the youngest of President Erdoğan’s daughters, provoked angry reactions among those who – like betrayed lovers -- are used to pinning their hopes on the military. This is not a meaningful reaction, but apparently we needed a wedding picture to realize what the power structure looks like. It was the military-industrial complex that posed for the wedding picture. This is the situation of the military that some hope so much from. And the same goes for the “Istanbul capital” that again, some expect will provide salvation. These capital interests are standing in line to get defense contracts (from the state). Erdoğan, the military, big capital and MHP form a united front. The wedding picture is instructive: it reminds that democracy will not come with the help of big capital and the military. Erdoğan, capital, the army and MHP are hand in hand. Had the laws about contract labor passed so easily if it hadn’t been for this alliance? The power relations are as easy to read as an open book: A united rightist bloc, behind it big capital, and the military as its assurance. These are all well-known themes for the left, for a left that once again needs to bring back class to the center of the political agenda.
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.
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.