What do Hamburg and justice rally tell us?
Two topics have kept Turkey’s agenda occupied for the past couple of days: The huge march for justice of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) that ended in Istanbul, and the G-20 summit held in Hamburg.
There are always demonstrations held against G-20 summits. The city looked like a ghost town as its streets were closed down by the security forces. But the protests in Hamburg were very widespread and almost turned the city into a circle of fire, burning cars, tires, and trash cans. At times the police lost control.
But who were the protestors?
Many of them came from the branches that surfaced with new interpretations of anarchism that became even more effective after the demise of the Soviet Union. Among the demonstrators were those with ideological roots going back to Proudhon, who said property is theft, as well as individualist anarchists whose leader is the American John Zerzan. There were also ecologists, as conceptualized by Murray Bookchin, and collective anarchists.
There was thus a huge contradiction between the theories and what the protestors did. None of these ideologies approve war, violence and terror. They defend the right to demonstrate without resorting to violence.
But those resorting to violence in Hamburg seem to have forgotten their ideologies.
As expected, members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Germany were also among the demonstrators. The PKK thus demonstrated a double contradiction, because while it was protesting against capitalism and countries like the United States and Germany at the G-20, it seems to have forgotten that it is functioning under the wings of Germany in Europe and under the wings of the U.S. in Syria.
Turkey’s threat perception
Turkey was one of the countries under the spotlight in Hamburg. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held 12 bilateral meetings including with Trump, Putin and Merkel.
Let’s look at the situation from the point of view of the United States, Russia and Turkey.
The summit showed once again that the U.S. and Russia are engaged in a struggle in Syria. The U.S. wants to dominate energy resources and also help secure Israel by dividing Syria, as in the case of Iraq.
Russia wants to consolidate its position in the Mediterranean by strengthening its air and maritime bases in Syria. The rest of the Syrian issue does not interest Moscow.
Ankara is aware that the picture that emerges after a U.S.-Russian agreement will likely pose a threat to its national unity and territorial integrity. The government therefore changed its policy when it became clear that the PKK used the period of the now-collapsed peace process as an opportunity to fortify itself with bombs and arms in preparation for urban warfare.
Since then, the government has come to a position closer to its old rhetoric. It knows that with the division of Iraq and Syria and the emergence of small states in the north of both of these countries, the threat will then turn to Turkey itself.
The government’s emphasis abroad on the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria - and the rhetoric within Turkey based on “one state, one flag, one homeland, one nation” - is a reflection of this stance.
The Euphrates Shield operation staged by the Turkish military in northern Syria and the measures taken against the threat in Afrin also stemming from the same calculation.
The CHP’s justice march
Meanwhile, the “justice march” launched by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in Ankara finished on July 9 in Istanbul’s Maltepe district with a big rally.
The event marked the biggest public demonstration by the CHP in Turkey’s multi-party history. It is very impressive that such an immense event was successfully organized by the CHP and completed without any negative incident, while remaining on top of Turkey’s agenda for 24 days.
Of course, another dimension to be noted is that the security forces fulfilled their duties with great success.
The CHP’s march will doubtless have a number of political effects. The completion of the march without major incident will no doubt contribute to our democratic culture, along with the fact that a mass march was completed in peace and security without any space for violence.
Another result is that Kılıçdaroğlu strengthened his leadership of the CHP.
Both the government and the opposition should interpret the Maltepe rally carefully, particularly in the context of the anniversary this week of the failed July 2016 coup attempt.
The Turkish Republic overcame a serious danger of collapse with the coup attempt. With its political leaders, parties, press, and people who stood against tanks at the cost of giving their lives, the country prevented this collapse and democracy won.
We were able to all see together where Turkey was being dragged to with its judiciary, armed forces, security services, education system, and health systems captured by a nefarious group.
What we should understand well from the Maltepe rally is the demand for a structure in which all citizens of Turkey can trust the judiciary, the police, the soldier, and the teacher.