By Halil Gürhanlı
April 7, 2016
With the refugee deal with EU, the regime in Turkey earns the silence of its European critics as the country proceeds towards complete authoritarianism. The EU leaders get to have their cake and eat it too, outsourcing gate-keeping while maintaining the moral upper-hand. However, this is a joint “achievement” gained at the expense of millions of Syrian refugees. It tarnishes EU’s status as a normative power. Meanwhile, Turkey is also a loser, as it will not be politically and financially compensated for carrying the refugee burden.
Ergun Babahan in Özgür Düşünce writes that it is becoming increasingly clear that the Palace wants to have a big purge in the ranks of the military. It is equally clear that the general staff is resisting this. The pro-palace media provoked a reaction from the general staff by its recent stories claiming that “Gülenist officers in the armed forces are going to carry out a coup.” The General staff denied these allegations in a forceful language, stating that “no one can take action outside the chain of command.” This stance amounted to checking the demands for a purge. In fact, the fight is not really about the issue of the Gülenists, but about the relations to the United States and NATO. This is not an exclusive AKP operation, but a plan that is being implemented jointly with the neo-nationalists, the ulusalcı. The ulusalcı are attempting to regain the positions within the armed forces that they lost with the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases. The aim is to purge the cadres that have been on NATO duty in Brussels and Pentagon, and that are deemed to be close to the Western culture. Thus, it is not a question of purging Gülenists; what is taking place is a fight between the pro-NATO and ulusalcı cadres of the military. If the latter prevail, the command chain of the armed forces for years to come will be refashioned in accordance with the wishes of the ulusalcı. We are witnessing a fight that is going to determine Turkey’s place in the world.
By Halil Karaveli
April 5, 2016
The outsize personality of President Erdoğan obscures the systemic dynamics that sustain his exercise of power. Erdoğan’s push for an executive presidency corresponds to the “logic” of Turkish state power. Erdoğan’s personal ambitions and raison d’état coincide to reinforce authoritarianism. Ultimately, democracy in Turkey is crippled because no major political force, representing the Turkish majority, challenges the dominant mentality that holds that the survival of the state requires the checking of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Ergun Babahan on the news site Özgür Düşünce writes that AKP never intended to reach an agreement with PKK and solve the Kurdish problem on the basis of a Western model. It assumed that it was going to be able to dilute the Kurdish identity within a Sunni Muslim identity and that it would solve the problem with economic investments and individual rights. When the Kurds mobilized around HDP and the party crossed the ten percent threshold to parliament that not only jeopardized Erdoğan’s dreams of an executive presidency. It also jeopardized the founding paradigm which the 1980 coup had put in place specifically in order to ensure that the Kurds were kept out of the parliament and politics. Different schemes were enacted to block the path of HDP and to neutralize the Kurds politically (after the June 2015 general election.) This is the development that those who are accusing the PKK of having fallen into the trap of the state, or of AKP fail to fully read. The state openly chose to settle the accounts with the Kurds by the means of violence.
Ahmet Altan on the news site Haberdar writes that the army and AKP are working in tandem. Maybe the army is seeking to obtain what it has been trying to do for years by mobilizing the AKP – with its vast majority – behind it. This could be a dream come true for the army, that it now thanks to AKP and its majority can crush the Kurds, the leftists and the religious conservatives outside of AKP so handily. And it could be that AKP is thinking that it makes sense to cooperate with the army in order to force the Kurds to accept a presidential system, to silence its opponents, and wipe out the other religious conservatives from the field. But beware, while cooperating, you run the risk of turning into the force with which you cooperate. While the AKP is turning into an image of the old state, the military is becoming more like the AKP. The daily Cumhuriyet has recently exposed how the army is collaborating with ISIS at the Syrian border. The conservative base of the AKP will not long take the “militarization” of the party; in fact, that is one of the reasons behind the internal fissures that are slowly becoming visible. Meanwhile, the attempt to turn the army into an AKP army could have truly disastrous consequences in terms of the internal cohesion of the military. The Turkish army could split like the Lebanese army.
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.