Friday, 27 February 2015

What the Columnists Say

Published in Roundup of Columnists

Fatih Yaşlı in Yurt writes that the evacuation of the Süleyman Şah tomb in Syria symbolizes the end of the neo-Ottoman project of the AKP regime. İbrahim Karagül in Yeni Şafak sees a foreign hand behind ISIS and argues that the operation that evacuated the Turkish soldiers thwarted the designs of foreign powers that were scheming to attack Turkish interests under the guise of ISIS. Etyen Mahçupyan in Akşam writes that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not an authoritarian, but that he behaves like that only when he feels under threat. Mahçupyan urges the opposition to create the conditions that will enable Erdoğan to be a democrat. Bülent Korucu in Zaman detects signs that a closure case against the main opposition party CHP may be under way. Ali Bulaç in Zaman writes that the AKP has destroyed Islamism and forfeited a century-old heritage.




Fatih Yaşlı in Yurt writes that the Turkish government, in a way unprecedented during the history of the republic, made the overthrow of the regime in a neighboring country the centerpiece of its foreign policy. They opened the territory of Turkey for the armed groups that sought to overthrow the regime in the neighboring country, which is unprecedented in the history of the republic. Turkey was supposed to take its place on the international political stage as an imperial power. It didn’t work out… Neither Damascus nor Kobane fell; what fell was what was known as the “last Turkish land abroad,” the Süleyman Şah tomb. Thus the neo-Ottoman fantasies of enlarging Turkey ended – albeit symbolically – with the “loss of land.” Thus fell the neo-Ottoman project!  But the project was of course stillborn. History confirms that a country that has accumulated a foreign debt of US$ 400 billion, whose economy depends on inflow of capital, and which stands on its feet thanks to the construction sector, that has not developed a local arms industry, that has not solved its internal societal issues, which is under the control of imperialism does not become an imperial power through heroism.


İbrahim Karagül in Yeni Şafak sees a foreign hand behind ISIS and argues that the operation that evacuated the Turkish soldiers from Syria thwarted the designs of foreign powers that were scheming to attack Turkish interests under the guise of ISIS. When ISIS was increasing its influence in Syria and Iraq it took care not to offend Turkey. It paid special attention in its operations not to disturb Turkey. Then what happened that precipitated the takeover by the organization of the Turkish consulate in Mosul last summer? Who had suggested the idea, pointed out the target, given the order? Are the “centers” behind the organization that elaborate strategies in Iraq or Syria or in capitals like London and Washington? The hostage incident in Mosul was not an ISIS attack; it was the attack of the countries that are using the organization as proxy in their power rivalry with Turkey in the region. Some people are scheming to let the organization loose against Turkey. This time the chosen target was the Süleyman Şah tomb and the garrison there. They were going to attack the place, maybe take our soldiers hostage, maybe setting the shrine on fire. Turkey was under the threat of a direct attack under ISIS camouflage. If the operation (the evacuation) had not been undertaken, very soon we would have seen terrorist attacks in our border region. With the attack on Süleyman Şah Turkey and ISIS would have been set up against each other, and then other schemes would have been implemented.


Bülent Korucu in Zaman notes that President Erdoğan and the media that he controls have started to frequently attack the main opposition party, CHP. Those who see this as related to the upcoming elections and think that it is a passing phenomenon are mistaken. The idea of once and for all getting rid of the most powerful political opposition is not something to be taken lightly. CHP is fomenting the anger against it by its attempts to change. The CHP, which used to object to everything related to religion, above all the headscarf, did not oppose the headscarf freedom in the parliament, the universities and in public offices; on the contrary, it contributed to the enlargement of freedom. It is inconceivable that Erdoğan and the AK Party would be happy with the change of the CHP. In 2009, when the CHP conducted its “Quran courses and headscarf opening” before the municipal election that year, Erdoğan gave vent to his annoyance by for the first time suggesting that there was a possibility that the CHP could face a closure case just as AKP had previously done (for undermining secularism.) After the Gezi protests, leading AK Party representatives have pronounced many sentences in which the CHP and “closure” are pronounced in conjunction. When we look closely at the recent reporting about the CHP, it becomes possible to say that the road leading to a closure case is being paved. “Bombs with an address” are planted in the exchange that allegedly took place between the CHP’s Umut Oran and the social media phenomenon Fuat Avni. Notably, this was taken seriously by the newly instituted prosecutor in charge of crimes against the constitution. The importance of these fabricated publications should not be minimized. The inclusion of the sentence “$25 million as election support from Israel” (in the alleged exchange) opens up the possibility to evoke the paragraph that stipulates that “political parties that receive financial aid from foreign states, international organizations or from non-Turkish citizens and juridical persons are permanently closed.” In a situation where the rule of law has been suspended nothing would be a surprise from now on; including the closure of CHP.


Etyen Mahçupyan in Akşam observes that it has become popular in some circles to hold that Erdoğan has become authoritarian, and that political developments are being explained with the desire of one man to institute an oppressive system. In this view, Erdoğan appeared to be a democrat during the first years in government only because he had to, but he then changed to his real character, that is, authoritarianism, when he was in full charge. However, when a person acts in one way at one time and in another way at a different time, it is difficult to tell which one represents his authentic self. When circumstances change, the ways of a person also change. If we are to analyze the president, we need to see that this individual is inclined toward more than one mentality and that he moves between these mentalities depending on whether he feels at ease or is in a situation that implies stress and threats. Even if the appearances suggest that Tayyip Erdoğan from time to time behaves in an authoritarian manner, this is not his personality. Furthermore, it’s not the only mentality that he possesses. Because we can also observe that his behavior is sometimes paternalistic and sometimes democratic. And there is nothing strange about that, since like every individual he has developed a composite mentality. On the other hand, to think that an individual can always be a democrat is a utopian and an unrealistic notion. In situations which are neutral Erdoğan tends to be paternalistic, a democrat when he is fully at ease and enjoys strong relations of confidence, and authoritarian when he feels himself to be under threat. For the opposition the lesson is thus: if you are unable to bring Erdoğan down from power, then create the conditions that will enable him to be a democrat.


Ali Bulaç in Zaman writes that the Islamist generation that came to power in 2002 could have been expected to change the state. Yet that didn’t happen. As a consequence of the fact that pious politicians who had no other intention and goal then “power for the sake of power” took the initiative, the third generation of Islamists joined the power struggle with the most archaic notions of politics and state. We are grateful to the old Islamists who have come to hold power only because they have openly declared that they have “removed their National Outlook shirt” and assured that their policies have “no Islamic and religious references.” But nonetheless they have done great harm because of their “religious-conservative” appearances: They have forfeited a century-old heritage, dried out the Islamist imagination. They have wrought havoc by using power and raw capitalism in the most merciless way. The state has succeeded in converting our third generation; they have no sense of justice, they care about no one else beside themselves, and they don’t care about moral values.

Read 7414 times Last modified on Friday, 27 February 2015

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