Turkish government, main opposition party draw swords
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) and CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (R) in the Aug. 30 Victory Day celebrations in Ankara, 2014. File photoAlthough many of Turkey’s political actors have raced to deliver messages of calm amid heightened tension, the prime minister and the main opposition leader have taken off the gloves, accusing each other of being unreasonable --and engaging in a spat over "a thing."
Turkey woke up to an extremely gloomy morning on Oct. 10, as over 30 people were killed and 360 others were injured in a four day “spiral of violence” in Turkey. The final straw was the killing of two police officers in an attack in the eastern Anatolian province of Bingöl late on Oct. 9, when a police chief was also seriously wounded in the same attack.
Yet, consecutive statements by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu appear to have left no room for conciliatory discourse on the political stage, despite various calls for common sense both by official authorities and civil society groups.
Speaking to reporters after paying a visit to Bingöl Police Chief Atalay Ürker, who was wounded during the latest attack and has been treated at a hospital in Ankara, Davutoğlu did not hide his fury over Kılıçdaroğlu’s publicly made proposal to the government to renew the parliamentary mandate authorizing the Turkish army to mobilize in Syria. According to the proposal, the army would solely aim to save the border town of Kobane from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The current mandate gives broad and vague authority for cross border operations into Iraq and Syria.
“Our practices are beyond Kılıçdaroğlu’s dreams,” Davutoğlu said, as he chastised the opposition leader for calling on the government to adopt measures that would provide compensation for damages suffered to terrorist attacks. Davutoğlu noted the government has already been providing those compensations through an existing legislation.
“Kılıçdaroğlu should know that we don’t need his opinions. He should just keep silent. He should not complain to the international community about his country and not provide material for provocateurs. We don’t need either his ideas or his mind or a thing,” Davutoğlu said.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s response to Davutoğlu came within hours, as he was speaking to reporters following the visit to the wounded Bingöl police chief at the hospital.
“Is he really the prime minister?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked. “Davutoğlu should first of all prove himself,” he added.
Recalling Turkish idioms that highlight the importance of “common sense” and “consultation,” Kılıçdaroğlu said even people who do not support his party had respect for the CHP’s views.
"It was Davutoğlu who asked our opinion a couple of days ago. Then why do you ask us?" Kılıçdaroğlu asked before adding: "Now he says that he doesn't need our ideas or a thing. OK, but what do you mean with ‘the thing?’"
When used in the context of slang, the Turkish word “şey” (thing) that both leaders referred to can have obscene meanings.
Kılıçdaroğlu maintained that the basic disagreement between him and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was the fact that he was constantly telling the truth.
“For which reason are you in need of [Abdullah] Öcalan’s ideas?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked, in an aggressive counterattack directed at the government and referring to the stalled peace process aimed at ending the three-decade-long fight between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkey’s security forces. Öcalan, the imprisoned PKK leader, is a central player in the process.
“They should come up and make an explanation for this,” he added.
Earlier in the day, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to press on with efforts as part of the peace process despite the deadly pro-Kurdish protests, saying he would work for an agreement until his “last breath.”
The conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 35,000 people since the PKK took up arms in 1984 in its fight for autonomy for Kurds in southeast Turkey.