By Gareth H. Jenkins
September 18th, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
The recent spate of violent protests by Turkish ultranationalists – including attempted lynchings of ethnic Kurds -- and the attacks by government supporters on the Hürriyet newspaper have reinforced already serious concerns about both the deepening fissures in Turkish society and the continuing weakening of the rule of law in the country.
Ali Bulaç in Zaman asks what Turkey stands to gain from joining the United States in its war against the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey will gain nothing! Let us imagine that northern Syria is cleared from ISIS. What is the U.S. going to deploy there in its place? It is of course not going to hand the place to al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamic organization. It is very clear that Kurdish PYD is going to be deployed in the place of ISIS. And does not the PYD equal the PKK? The war against ISIS is not only fought against an organization, but it is a war against a Sunni Arab population that Turkey has committed itself to fight alongside and for the sake of the West! No one is approving what ISIS is doing. If ISIS is harming Islam and the Muslims, then the way to stop this is not to shoulder the role of the gendarme of the U.S. There are other ways to do it, in accordance with the codes and dynamics of the region. But there is right now no reasonable ground for declaring war against IS. The massacre in Suruç, that the ISIS has not taken responsibility for, is a very murky operation! ISIS has established authority over an area which is inhabited by millions of Muslims. That Turkey wageals war against a Muslim population represents a first in the history of the Republic. This has no Islamic legitimacy, and it is politically and militarily wrong.
Etyen Mahçupyan in Akşam writes that PKK has shot itself in the foot. At a point where it had the chance to force Turkey to a real peace, it seriously damaged its legitimacy by returning to war. Those who want to lend support to the Kurdish political movement now claim that Erdoğan has started the war because he could not become executive president or because he wants an election victory. These speculations are all baseless. The presidency is not part of the events, because a presidential system can only be introduced together with a new constitution, and even if were to come to power alone the AKP could not propose such a constitution by its own, because it would not be able to ensure the necessary legitimacy and permanency of the endeavor. Nor is there any logic behind the speculation about starting a war in order to win the election; because if such a perception has been established, you are not going to win an election anyway. Besides, if this is indeed the AKP’s purpose, then you’ll need to find an answer to why the PKK helped the AKP by executing those two police officers. So why did the cease-fire end? It ended because the PKK started to seek independence in Rojava, and because Turkey did not want to have a PKK state at its border. One should not forget that a PKK that establishes itself as a state means that there will be civil war in Turkey anyway. The AKP is not opposed to a Kurdish entity by its border; such an entity can even serve its purposes. But it is against every form of autonomy that is imposed by PKK. Thus, it did not hesitate to exploit the PKK’s serious mistake and reciprocated the invitation to end the cease-fire.
Metin Münir on the t24 news site writes that Erdoğan, after tasting his first election defeat, turned his ire and hate against HDP and its leaders. He ended the solution process. He sent the air force to bomb Kandil. PKK, the target of this attack, had many choices; without hesitation, the PKK chose the most stupid one. It started to spread terror. Maybe the leaders of the PKK, like all other aging warlords, could not accept that they are no longer in tune with the times, maybe they could not bring themselves to accept that the time has come for them to leave the initiative to the civilians. Whatever Erdoğan does, the most rational thing for the PKK to do is to pull out its warriors from Turkey and concentrate on the fight against ISIS.
Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet calls attention to a statement made by Kurdish leader Cemil Bayık: “No one can force us to pull out the guerilla from the north (from Turkey) or force us to lay down our arms. These are things that are never going to happen.” The leaders of the PKK/KCK have embraced the opportunity that has been offered them in Syrian Kurdistan; they are strengthening their positions there (through the PYD and with the help of the U.S. and the West); the focus of their policies is primarily to view Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia as forming one unit together with Syrian Kurdistan. The proclamations of “self-rule” in two provinces and six counties are not only a result of the [Turkish air force] bombings [of Kandil]; this is something for which they have prepared for a long time. The proclamations of Kurdish “self-rules” are one step: the message is “We don’t recognize the central government in Ankara.” They speak of “Revolutionary people’s war.” This means that we can expect smaller and bigger uprisings with the participation of the masses. It appears that the PKK/KCK has opted for policies that break off the bonds with Turkey.
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.