Who is who in the current war
Turkey’s political war is getting only more intense every week, as more ammunition is being fired by the warring sides. The latest and the greatest of them are the alleged phone conversations between the prime minister and his son. Exposed on the web earlier this week, these wiretapped audio recordings, if they are proven to be authentic rather than fake, may well bring the PM down. But it is more likely that both sides will simply keep believing in their own version of events and the polarization will only deepen.
On the other hand, the latest ammunition of the pro-government camp is the list of wiretapped phones that were exposed by pro-government newspapers again earlier this week. Accordingly, certain policemen have wiretapped thousands of prominent Turks for years, with a seemingly legal but quite absurd justification – that they all belonged to a terrorist organization called “Salam and Tawhid,” which nobody knows. (For more on this, see the piece, “The eavesdropping scandal” by Taha Özhan in yesterday’s Hürriyet Daily News.)
The two sides in this war are also clear to most observers: On the one side, there is the governing party, and especially its leader, Tayyip Erdoğan. On the other side, there is the Fethullah Gülen movement, which, according to Erdoğan, has created a “parallel state” within the state.
But what about other political actors? Where do they stand?
One key actor is President Abdullah Gül. He has made it obvious several times that he disapproves of the authoritarian ambitions of Erdoğan, but on this issue, he seems to be much closer to Erdoğan than his adversaries. My impression is that Gül is only trying to contain the government’s furious battle with the “parallel state” within the rule of law as much as he can.
The two main opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are no fans of “the parallel state” – they were complaining about it until very recently – but their main target is now Erdoğan. That is why the CHP’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, uses the alleged wiretapped phone conversations of the prime minister and openly blames him for “theft.” Erdoğan, in return, condemns the “CHP-parallel state alliance.”
The fourth political party, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has appeared a bit closer to Erdoğan since the beginning of this crisis. The reason is simple: Erdoğan is the “peacemaker” with the Kurdish militants that the BDP implicitly represents. However, BDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş recently said on CNNTürk, “The peace process is important, but we cannot head toward peace by disregarding the corruption and bribery operations.”
What about the liberals? Well, that is not a monolithic group. Still, it can be said that many of the liberals, including the supporters of the Gezi Park Movement, are clearly against Erdoğan and seem happy to see that “the parallel state” is exposing his wrongdoings. Other liberals, however, see Erdoğan as the lesser of two evils, and even still support him for the sake of his peace deal with Kurdish nationalists.
The Islamic camp itself is bitterly divided. Most communities support Erdoğan against the greatest community, the Gülen movement, which has a few Islamic allies as well. Then there are a few non-aligned individual voices, criticizing the excesses of both sides and advising them restraint. They are marginal now, but perhaps they hold the key for a post-war reconciliation.