Kadri Gürsel on Diken news site notes that the Turkish regime has vowed to fight the war to the end. I guess what they mean by this is that the war is going to continue until PKK has been finished off. Those who haven’t lost their minds will realize that trying to finish the Kurdish problem with military means in 2016 will amount to finishing off Turkey. But while a military solution is not possible, what about a political solution? Is that possible? Let alone a political solution, not even a secretly or openly negotiated cease-fire with PKK is possible when someone’s priority is a “presidential system.” For how could a cease-fire with PKK be explained to the nationalist and conservative voters who will have to be courted in a coming referendum to amend the constitution? It could only work if PKK surrendered during 2016, and there are no signs of this happening. On the contrary, PKK is vowing to “overthrow Erdoğan.” The regime is unable to solve this historical crisis which has erupted only as a result of its own policies, either militarily or politically.
Fatih Yaşlı in Birgün writes that at first glance, the terror attack in Ankara on March 13 would appear to have been “wrong and a mistake” from the view point of PKK, which has also been pointed out by leftist circles that are close to the Kurdish movement. These make the point that the massacre in Ankara circumscribes the political room of maneuver of the leftist-democrat forces in the west of the country and that it has undermined the position of those who call for a democratic and peaceful resolution of the Kurdish problem. What this criticism overlooks is the fact that the dynamics of war has changed since the state abandoned the “solution process”, and that the PKK – in response to the state violence that has been escalating since then – no longer gives priority to forcing a solution with “democratic” methods. Instead, PKK is spreading the war in the Kurdish areas to the rest of the country. As war has become the way of conducting politics, it leads to new alignments: MHP edges closer to the government, while CHP’s statist reflexes are triggered and the party’s discourse becomes similar to that of the governing party. And we know who’s going to benefit from that. Unfortunately, we can expect that the worst is yet to come, lest the two sides are bluffing, which they don’t seem to be doing. When the “spring war” intensifies, attacks like these are going to become routine, and with growing polarization in society, there will follow an increased risk that civilians are going to take on each other directly.
Ergun Babahan on the news site Özgür Düşünce writes that AKP’s antagonistic policies against Muslims and Kurds are at a par with the oppression that has historically been associated with CHP, the founding party of the republic. In fact what is happening can be viewed as “mopping up” actions by the state which uses the AKP as its tool. The Kurds and the Gülen movement are seen as enemies by the state. AKP are doing the bidding of the state by terrorizing girls in headscarf and by being the standard-bearer of the policy of extermination against the Kurds. But make no mistake, for the state the AKP is nothing but a tissue that is used and which will be discarded when it’s no longer needed. In the 1990’s, the military had had to pay for what was done against Kurds and Muslims, and this was what paved the way for the ascent of AKP to power. This time, it will not be the military, but the president, the prime minister and the other AKP leaders who are going to be held responsible for the breaches of law and the violations of human rights. What we are witnessing in Şırnak, Cizre and Sur shows that the state has decided to destroy the Kurdish cities and empty them of their inhabitants. This is the 1915 model adapted to the conditions of our time, and it could set off an exodus of Turkey’s Kurds toward Europe.
Cengiz Çandar in Radikal writes that Turkey is seeking a closer relation with the EU because the historical rivalry between it and Russia has been revived, with Turkey being encircled on three fronts by a Russia that has annexed Crimea to the north, has strengthened its military ties with Armenia to the east and has become entrenched to the south by its support to the Kurds in the vicinity of Aleppo and has denied Turkey access to the north Syrian air space. In this context, Ankara (which does not mean exclusively the AKP government) views the PKK as an “asset” that Russia is using or will use against Turkey. The Turkey-EU “refugee bargaining” becomes intelligible by looking at this big picture. Turkey, which is “besieged” by Russia and feels to under “strategic threat” is reorienting in the direction that remains open for it, that is to the West, across the Aegean Sea. At the same time, Ankara is exploring a “common ground” with Iran in countering the Kurds, just like Turkey did back in 1937, when the Saadabad treaty was concluded with Persia. This “political maneuver” by Turkey is also an attempt to break the Russia-Iran entente over Syria.
By Lars Haugom
March 11, 2016
The Turkish military has no known intention to intervene in the political decision-making process. However, the military has retained a capacity to do so - both by means of its continued role in security policy making and its relative institutional autonomy. The extent of any military involvement in politics will largely depend on how the Kurdish issue is handled by the government. But it is still highly unlikely that any such involvement will take the form of a direct intervention.
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.