Turkey’s political, psychological and security climate is getting heavier. Three elections lie ahead along with significant developments that can affect the process.
At the top of the list is the Kurdish question. Negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the developments in Syria are triggering a drastic change in its character.
Political Islam, as a second issue, is becoming more influential in both domestic and foreign affairs. The government is arguing behind closed doors that the Gezi demonstrations had a “sectarian” dimension. This view suggests that the demonstrators were aided and abetted by the West and the al-Assad regime. Thus, the debate is being dominated by a sectarian frame of mind.
The reaction against Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi’s military intervention in Egypt has also brought political Islam to the fore. Although the concern in this reaction seems to be democracy, the reality differs. The real drives behind the reaction are ideological affinity, the psychology of identification and projection, fear and isolation. Hence, the discourse used in the debate on Egypt is less political than Islamic.
The developments in Syria are localizing political Islam, too. Turkish government’s decision to delegate “humanitarian” and “dirty” jobs to “local organizations” has consequences. Some Turkey-based Islamist groups, utilizing the atmosphere of Ramadan, continue to recruit warriors and receive donations for “jihad” in Syria.
On the other hand, the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) is waging a “nationalist” war in Syria against the jihadist al-Nusra Front, that is, against Arabs. Many young Kurds are moving from Turkey to Syria to join this war. Most likely, they will also be fighting the Islamist Kurds who support the jihadists.
Syria’s asymmetric war is visible from the Turkish border. For now, Turkey’s war is “verbal” and waged on the Internet. The future is uncertain.
Under these conditions, two issues keep the NATO-member Turkish Armed Forces busy: “Killing time” on the Syrian border under the government’s directives and feeling sorry for the fate of the “terrorists” inside the army.
The armed forces are killing time by preventing around 4,000 bandits on horseback or on foot, just like in the movies, from entering Turkey. Also, they are saddened by the fate of the former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and his friends. The former, according to the specially authorized court, “retired as the leader of a terrorist organization.” The debate is shifting from democracy to political Islam.
Most interestingly, some of the religious communities that, for years, came together under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) umbrella are in disharmony, too.
It seems that, in the next months, we will have to make more effort to understand Turkey’s prospects.