By Gareth H. Jenkins
December 21st, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
In theory, the restoration of the parliamentary majority of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the general election of November 1 should have been an opportunity to address Turkey’s many pressing problems, not least its international isolation and the cleavages in Turkish society. Instead, in the weeks since its election victory, the AKP has continued with the policies that it was pursuing before, not only exacerbating existing crises but creating new ones.
Murat Belge in Taraf writes that Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane is going to have repercussions for its Western allies. The question now is, did we warn our allies before taking an action that could have forced all the members of the NATO to go to war against Russia? For instance, were the people of Norway, or Denmark, Italy or Canada aware that they could have found themselves at war with Russia before the month of November was over? How probable is it that a Dane would approve of his state declaring war against Russia just because a Russian war plane flew over Turkish air space for seventeen seconds? Isn’t he or she going to think that one ought to reconsider being allied to a country that can behave so irresponsibly?
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak notes that Russia is giving air support to the Kurdish PYD forces in Syria, helping them to cross to the west of the Euphrates. Do you think that the U.S. would mind if the Kurds were to succeed in their advance? It would not at all be surprising if the U.S. prefers that the Kurds – rather than the Sunni opposition that the Russians are hitting – acquire control over the area. In that case, Turkey will have only one counter-measure that it has often said it will deploy: To hit the PYD. You can imagine what the consequences of such an extreme and bad scenario – a probable fight between PYD and the Turkish army – would have on relations with the U.S., with Russia and how societal tensions in the southeast would escalate. Since Russia joined the game, everything has been turned upside down. This has also been a strike against Turkey that supports the Sunni opposition and it has turned into an endeavor to push out Turkey from the area.
Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that the Russian planes are hitting the armed groups in Syria that Ankara support, and that the Russian offensive risks paving the way for a Kurdish advance, connecting the three Kurdish cantons. Ankara relies on the armed groups that Russia is hitting to defend the 98 kilometer long corridor that separates the Kurdish areas. Russia is in all probability aiming to create the conditions for the capture of this corridor by Syrian government forces. This is the main reason why Ankara shot down the Russian plane in this area. The loss of the forces that Turkey has built up during all these years means that its whole Syria policy is crumbling. The question is if this area might come under the control of PKK? Russia’s operation in the area creates the possibility that the corridor of 98 kilometers might be taken over by PKK/PYD. What happens if the U.S. and Russia were to come to an agreement on this? Would they do it? Let us here remind that Ankara has declared that it will certainly intervene if that were to come to pass. However, if the area comes under the control of the Assad forces that might perhaps prevent the realization of what Turkey fears – the establishment of a contiguous Kurdish corridor that reaches to the Mediterranean. Ankara ought to keep this in mind and make its plans accordingly. Otherwise it will lose everything. Peace with Assad is the solution!
Mahmut Bozarslan on Bertaraf Haber writes that the PKK engaged the state in a ferocious fight without allowing the HDP the chance to do politics. And this time it did it by bringing the fighting into the middle of city centers… Even though the west of Turkey holds HDP responsible for the fighting, the Kurds knew very well who the responsible was. The declarations of self-rule in many Kurdish populated cities and the armed resistance on the streets, started to annoy the Kurds. The Kurds could not make sense of why there was suddenly a resumption of violence just as peace was within reach. The Kurdish voters stood up against PKK’s preference for violence. The HDP was made to pay for the violence that did not cease despite all calls from civil society. Yes, the state started the violence, but the PKK continued with it. The PKK could very well have declared that it was not going to take action and then withdrawn across the border. Not only did it choose not to withdraw, it turned the cities into war zones. And poor HDP had to pay the price. Yet despite everything negative, if one victor of the election is the AKP, so HDP is the second one. It is a major accomplishment to manage to get 59 parliamentarians elected despite all pressure and despite having been squashed under the tension that all the fighting has caused. The loser is the strategy of Kandil [the PKK], and the tactics of urban guerilla. As the saying goes, “War for the people in spite of the people” does not work.
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.