Wednesday, 06 May 2015

What the Columnists Say

Published in Roundup of Columnists

Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak writes that AKP’s otherwise legitimate struggle against the Gülen fraternity will remain flawed from a democratic perspective until the party acknowledges its own responsibility for the acts of the “cemaat” when the two were still allies. Fatih Yaşlı in Yurt writes that Turkish intellectual and political life suffers from a predilection for what he calls “easy opposition” that does not question who one is allied with as long as the cause is deemed to be good, which today blinds the opponents of AKP to the responsibility of the Gülenists in bringing about the present authoritarian rule. Murat Yetkin in Radikal writes that the talk in political circles is that AKP is preparing for a coalition with MHP after the general election in June. Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that Erdoğan is distancing himself from the Kurds, and is instead teaming up with the military. Umut Özkırımlı on the news site Diken writes that AKP’s, and generally the Islamists’ lasting legacy is a generalized hatred that has become a permanent, defining feature of Turkey’s society.




Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak writes that the struggle against cemaat, the Gülenist fraternity, is in every sense a legitimate endeavor. But this is only one side of the coin. The legitimate battle of an elected political power, responsible for the running of the state, against the illegitimate challenge has to be conducted with legitimate methods. In this respect, the battle that the political power is waging against the “cemaat” suffers from what from a democratic point of view are vital flaws and these need to be addressed. After 2007, the AK Party and “cemaat” developed a deep cooperation. This is well known by the public, by AK Party supporters as well as by opponents. Even if the political power did not have anything to do with the cemaat’s operational force and its initiatives, it nonetheless has the political responsibility for what was done. What the AK Party first of all needs to do is to bring clarity to this period. It needs to acknowledge the mistakes for which it was ultimately responsible and define the steps that it will take in order to correct these mistakes.


Fatih Yaşlı in Yurt writes that Turkish intellectual and political life suffers from a predilection for what he calls “easy opposition” that does not question who one is allied with as long as the cause is deemed to be good.  Until yesterday, the target of easy opposition was “military tutelage”; when that was defeated, democracy was going to arrive, and it went without saying that those who were believed to be fighting against military tutelage were allies that needed and deserved to be supported. And who they were was clear: the AKP and the “cemaat.” In the name of defeating military tutelage, easy opposition never questioned either the AKP or the “cemaat.” It overlooked things like illegal wiretapping and fabricated evidence. Those who yesterday formed this alliance against military tutelage and thus paved the road to dictatorship have perhaps now realized what they did, but their stance of “easy opposition” is still the same. They are now trying to conceal both their own role in the construction of dictatorship and the role of the “cemaat,” and they are entertaining an alliance with the “cemaat” against AKP. Just as yesterday they unquestioningly supported the AKP and the “cemaat” against military tutelage, they are now joining hands with “cemaat” supposedly against dictatorship. Yes, there is no longer any rule of law or justice in Turkey, but the force that bears as much responsibility for this as AKP – indeed more than AKP – is the “cemaat” that used its power in the judiciary to purge its opponents.


Murat Yetkin in Radikal notes that lately, both Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are being careful not to utter anything critical of the MHP, while they are at the same time unsparing in their criticism of the rest of the opposition. In political circles, reference is made to how MHP supported the election of Abdullah Gül as president in 2007, and against this background, attention is called to certain names among MHP’s candidates for the election to parliament in June. For instance, Durmuş Yılmaz, who after he resigned from the presidency of the Central Bank, assumed the position as Gül’s chief economic adviser during his presidency. Another name who is suggested could serve as a conduit (between MHP and AKP) is Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, who was the CHP’s and MHP’s joint presidential candidate last year, and who is now a MHP candidate for parliament. İhsanoğlu had earlier been proposed by the AKP government as general secretary of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a position to which he was subsequently elected. None of this is proof that MHP looks warmly on the presidential system that Erdoğan wants to introduce. But it is apparent that Erdoğan and Davutoğlu have started to take an alliance with MHP into account as they have realized that there is no guarantee that the AK Party will attain that goal on its own.


Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that Erdoğan is distancing himself from the Kurds, and is instead teaming up with the military. The signs increasingly point toward a deepening “alliance” between Erdoğan and the armed forces.  Of course, as a “state institution,” the armed forces obey the political power. However, as Erdoğan is identifying himself with the state, he is also striking up a different relation with the military compared to what prevailed earlier between them. The new law for internal security and the reinsertion of the military (in the Kurdish regions) are all Erdoğan’s preparations to meet a possible, renewed Kurdish insurgency. It thus looks as if Erdoğan is assuming this is where things are headed, and that his new, nationalist rhetoric in the Kurdish issue is not a temporary turn designed only to secure Turkish nationalist votes in the election. And of course in such a case, he is going to fuse with the armed forces. When the question is the “territorial integrity of the country,” the Turkish Armed Forces will be the ally of anyone who stands for the same idea. This situation will in turn make it easier for Erdoğan to use de facto presidential power – whether it is legal or not – at his own discretion. Lack of problems with the military will empower Erdoğan. The ground for what some liberals are warning about – a coup – will definitely disappear. One should note Erdoğan’s recent, sharp statement regarding the Cyprus issue; the Turkish Armed Forces do not think any differently in this matter.


Umut Özkırımlı on the news site Diken writes that although the AKP is not about to fall from power anytime soon, the party’s New Turkey project has no future for it. New Turkey is destined to end up in the dusty pages of history; but, it will end up in those pages after having left behind a rubble, the effects of which will be felt for generations to come. First of all, political Islam failed in its democracy test; the “cause” was forfeited. Not only has the AKP injured Turkey’s democratization adventure, it has also destroyed the ideology, the set of beliefs and values that it claimed to defend. The Islamists enjoy none of the societal legitimacy today that they did when they were disenfranchised. Never again are the seculars going to act together with the pious (as liberals did when they supported AKP). Not because they have any problem with piousness, but because they no longer trust the pious. The two groups simply do not share a commitment to principles like equality and freedom. Turkey was never a society that was made up of individuals or groups that trusted each other. Everyone trusted only those who were similar to themselves, and kept a distance to the “other” as much as possible. The AKP chose to make these fault lines deeper. It succeeded in making groups, who even though they did not like each other nonetheless somehow managed to stay together, hate each other. It also split groups that share the same values. Those who are repelled by what has happened have come to hate not only the government, but also the liberals, who they believe lifted this movement to power; those who ought to be united have started to attack each other. Hatred has become the permanent, defining feature of society.

Read 31639 times Last modified on Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Visit also





Joint Center Publications

Op-ed Halil Karaveli "The Rise and Rise of the Turkish Right", The New York Times, April 8, 2019

Analysis Halil Karaveli "The Myth of Erdogan's Power"Foreign Policy, August 29, 2018

Analysis Svante E. Cornell, A Road to Understanding in Syria? The U.S. and TurkeyThe American Interest, June 2018

Op-ed Halil Karaveli "Erdogan Wins Reelection"Foreign Affairs, June 25, 2018

Article Halil Karaveli "Will the Kurdish Question Secure Erdogan's Re-election?", Turkey Analyst, June 18, 2018

Research Article Svante E. Cornell "Erbakan, Kisakürek, and the Mainstreaming of Extremism in Turkey", Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, June 2018

Analysis Svante E. Cornell "The U.S. and Turkey: Past the Point of No Return?"The American Interest, February 1, 2018

Op-ed Svante E. Cornell "Erdogan's Turkey: the Role of a Little Known Islamic Poet", Breaking Defense, January 2, 2018

Research Article Halil Karaveli "Turkey's Authoritarian Legacy"Cairo Review of Global Affairs, January 2, 2018


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.


Sign up for upcoming events, latest news and articles from the CACI Analyst