MURAT YETKİN > Erdoğan can be Lincoln of Turkey

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Abraham Lincoln is one of few U.S. presidents that ordinary people outside the USA could recall immediately. And say a hundred years from now, other than the founding President George Washington, possibly Lincoln, John Kennedy and Barack Obama (and possibly the first Latin and first woman) will be recalled by those outside the USA.

It was Lincoln who put an end to slavery and it was Kennedy who put an end to segregation between white and black. It is true that they both had tragic ends but that is not the issue here; the issue is that they are remembered for what they have done for the rights of people coming from birth. They were the ones to pave the way for Obama as the first African-American president of the USA.

Lincoln’s struggle to end slavery under the circumstances of a civil war is the theme of Steven Spielberg’s latest film ‘Lincoln’. It is surprising to see the similarities of the circumstances under which Lincoln had taken his steps to end slavery and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan has been taking with the aim to find a political solution to Turkey’s chronic Kurdish problem.

There should be no room for misunderstanding: Kurds are among native peoples of this geography and Africans were taken to America by force and enslaved in sugar and cotton plantations; there is no similarity in that sense. The similarities are in the political circumstances and in parameters.

Lincoln was trying to get the Congress to approve a Constitutional amendment of regime changing qualities when the Civil War was getting more and more devastating.

Erdoğan is trying to find a political end to an armed conflict within the country and trying to get the Parliament approve a new Constitution of regime changing qualities.

In both cases the Constitutional process and the process to give an end to the conflict are closely related and converging.

Knowing that if the peace talks with the pro-slavery South will start officially, the House will leave the Constitution aside, Lincoln handled the processes simultaneously. Meanwhile he used occasional unethical methods to deceive some Democrat members and did not stop military campaign against the rebels, but without making a fuss about it.

He knew that people’s number one demand was to have an end to war which was taking their sons from their hands. Not peace necessarily, but to have an end to war, which are actually two different things.

Lincoln managed to instigate a perception that if slavery ends the war will end too.

Erdoğan has to know in today’s Turkey that the silent and cautious support that he is getting from people for the dialogue process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK (as an organization whose armed campaign has claimed 40 thousand lives in the last three decades) is not because people having complicated thoughts about a peace. But simply to have an end to bloodshed and conflict. Regardless of being parents of soldiers or militants, the majority do not want to hear the death news of their children anymore.

This is a rare moment. Erdoğan has a bases when he says ‘War is easier, peace is difficult’ when he makes a call to Kurdish origin politicians to share the responsibility. He also has to know that to project this support for the Constitutional process in order to give more uncontrollable power to executive body and to use it as president might put the Kurdish solution process in jeopardy. He has to use this rare chance carefully.

If he can do this and convince people that a political solution to Kurdish problem is on track and the conflict is over, yes, there is a chance that Erdoğan can be the Lincoln of Turkey. And like Lincoln, perhaps be recalled as second to Turkey’s founding president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk for those looking from outside.


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Notice on comments

Doctor Osmanov

2/24/2013 12:31:22 PM

Similarities or not, the important issue here is if Erdogan will be the man that will lead Turkey to peace together with Öcalan. You people might wish for eradication of PKK. But stop for a moment and talk with the mothers who have lost there sons to the militans or to the soldier. It is not your sons or daughters who are coming home in coffins. It is their children, it is their pain. Peace has alot of obstacles, some of them are in Washington, Moscow and Bryssel. Some of them are people here.

Engin Atik

2/19/2013 2:49:39 AM

@Mara, I did not mean to say one part was more patriotic than the other in the Civil War. If that is what is understood I am sorry. What I meant to say is that Lincoln continued on nation building effort of which foundation was laid in 1776. Erdogan does not seem to like the Turkish Republic's foundation which share the same source with the foundation of US. I just don't see any similarities between Erdogan and Lincoln.

Faruk Timuroglu

2/18/2013 11:51:46 PM

Erdogan uses so-called peace process as carrot to entice PKK and Kurdish support to have his dictatorial constitution proposal is accepted. Thus, Turkish people have to accept de-facto division of the country and his dictatorship for an illusion of peace. This might be his last try of deceiving the world.

Turiddu Giuliano

2/18/2013 11:00:51 PM

@jim handley As Italian I fully agree with you

Faruk Timuroglu

2/18/2013 10:57:41 PM

Lincoln fought secessionists and preserved the Union. Erdogan is doing the opposite. If you look at it upturned, yes there is a resemblance. Slavery hmm, looking upright, looking upturned no relation. Nevertheless, Erdogan would merits Nobel Peace Prize for dismantling Turkish state structure and Turkey without waging a war if he succeeds. Even he may split it with PKK leader in Imralı; also, Nobel committee should not forget the Imam in Pennsylvania.

american american

2/18/2013 9:10:35 PM

he could be, but he likes being g.w. bush more

ismail demir

2/18/2013 8:02:35 PM

No, Lincoln responded Southern secession demand by killing %30 of male population in the South, whereas Erdogan appease secessionists.

Can Oz

2/18/2013 7:34:05 PM

Lincoln is a legend. Meaning, Lincoln's legacy is a distortion of his real beliefs and deeds. In that sense, he is much closer to Ataturk than Erdoğan. If Erdoğan can solve Kurdish problem, he too will become legendary. Who knows, maybe a century from now Erdoğan will be remembered as a monotheist prophet who united Christians, Jews, and Muslims against atheist cyborgs.

turk oz

2/18/2013 7:02:04 PM

Coskan U you said it bro. There is no comparison to Erdogan to Lincoln maybe Earth to the Sun...miles away.I can not believe journalist in Turkey making this man God. Erdogan does not care about Turkey he only cares for himself. In USA government and Military are two in-depended from each other. One does not manipulate the other. President Lincoln only cared for citizens of the USA.Show me what Erdogan did? The poor in Turkey getting poorer while rich getting richer.

mara mcglothin

2/18/2013 5:06:49 PM

Spot on! ANDREW ENGIN You need to back up and read your US history again. We, in the south didn't get the memo that we weren't officially part of the USA. We fought the British just like the North.
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