No Kurdish votes for AKP, no peace bid for you!
One of the most famous and funniest episodes of the cult U.S. sitcom “Seinfeld” is “The Soup Nazi,” first aired in 1995 in the United States.
In the episode, a soup stand owner constantly demands excessively strict regimentation of his customers, kicking them out of the shop with the famous catchphrase “No soup for you!” if he sees any action challenging his authority, thus getting the nickname, “Soup Nazi.”
As entertaining as it is to watch this on a sitcom, it is extremely disturbing to see similar things being played out in real life, especially in politics. Unfortunately, the latest remarks of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and government officials regarding the Kurdish peace process in Turkey are no different.
“It is not possible for us to continue the peace process with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood,” Erdoğan told a news conference in Ankara on July 29, arguing that the process was being “exploited.”
“The peace process, when I was the leader of my party as the prime minister in March [2014, at the time of the local elections], unfortunately, was not embraced. When the following [June 7] general elections came, we saw that this action was severely damaged,” added Erdoğan.
Although he did not openly say it, the failures of the process Erdoğan was talking about were obviously the fall in the votes of the AKP and the success of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the general elections. After the HDP based its election strategy on stopping Erdoğan’s plans of a shift to a presidential system, Erdoğan and AKP officials made the party its target.
They worked hard to portray the HDP as a party that functions in accordance with orders given by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leaders based in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountain. The efforts were attempts to ensure that the pro-Kurdish party did not cross the 10 percent election threshold, in which case the AKP would win all the seats in parliament reserved for the deputies running in the southeast.
But that plan failed to stop the HDP from getting 13 percent of the vote to win 80 parliamentary seats, and the AKP could not win enough seats to hang on to the one-party rule.
The recent crackdown on alleged PKK members in Turkey (over 800 people have been detained in police raids since last week, in addition to around 100 suspected Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)) is widely seen as a move to consolidate nationalist votes for the AKP ahead of a possible snap election, in case efforts to form a coalition government fail.
The violence in the country has escalated since a suicide attack staged by a suspected ISIL militant in Suruç on July 20, which killed 31 young people who were members of a socialist association. Suspected members of the PKK have since killed around 10 soldiers and police officers, declaring an end to the years-long cease fire.
Erdoğan had actually signaled what was to come in his speeches before the June 7 election.
“Are you ready to make Turkey embrace a new constitution, the presidential system and a more powerful settlement process [to the Kurdish issue]?” he asked his supporters at a rally in Gaziantep on March 7.
“Then, brothers, give us 400 deputies and let this issue be resolved peacefully,” he added.
Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan --who represented the government in the “Dolmabahçe Agreement” on Feb. 28 when the HDP announced that the PKK’s jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, had asked the outlawed group to hold a congress in spring to discuss disarmament in Turkey-- had said it would create “some problems” if the HDP crossed the 10 percent election threshold.
According to HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, President Erdoğan saw the surveys predicting a fall in the AKP votes after the announcement and asked his inner circle “Why are we doing this if it does not benefit us at all?” Demirtaş told Radikal’s Ezgi Başaran it was after he saw the election surveys that Erdoğan upped the harshness in his tone against the HDP and put a distance between himself and the peace process.
Akdoğan continued his tough rhetoric yesterday, arguing that the “status-quo front targeting the AKP and Erdoğan used the HDP as a subcontractor.”
It is obvious that both Erdoğan and the AKP officials are not happy about the fact that millions of Kurdish citizens voted for the HDP instead of the AKP in the June 7 elections, resulting in a major blow to the AKP. Some AKP lawmakers and pro-government pundits even accused the Kurds of “ingratitude,” but they failed to elaborate what the HDP is doing differently than the time the two sides were negotiating to end the decades-long Kurdish issue.
At the end of “Seinfeld” episode, the “Soup Nazi” is forced to shut down his shop and move to Argentina after his secret recipes are revealed.
Since we do not have the option of shutting down Turkey and moving on, those who sincerely want peace in Turkey --not just to gain votes in the elections-- should speak today louder than ever in the face of those who say “No peace for you!”