While the Middle East is burning…
SOLİ ÖZELThe new regulation on alcoholic beverages can be regarded as one of indicator that the regime in Turkey is turning more oppressive. This is more to do with the harsh tone used to address the objections and the way it is imposed than the regulation itself.
This tone aims to create sharp polarizations, sharpening the already existing polarizations, and suppressing some groups by creating an intense wave of fear. The same harsh tone is also applied in other subjects, which could be workers’ rights, students’ demands, Alevis’ demands regarding freedom of faith, or reactions against the demolitions in the city.
Of course, this violence is not limited to rhetoric, and turns to physical violence, gas bombs, and pressurized water attacks at each occasion. It is hard to understand why the government - which probably has nothing to worry about regarding elections and its authority and has managed to silence the arms in the Kurdish issue - is so severe. Also, it is hard to understand the logic of creating such unnecessary tension in a country, whose surroundings have turned into a circle of fire. Turkey, situated in the Middle East, is currently on the edge a violent storm that blows randomly and aimlessly.
The violence in the region experienced so far may pale in comparison with the possible violence that could break out in the future. The poison emitted from Syria has already captivated Iraq and restarted the civil war there. The possibility of a new civil war is increasing, as it has been confirmed that Lebanese Hezbollah is not “God’s party,” but rather a party of Iran. “Salafising” Sunnis will target Hezbollah with the smell of blood in their noses.
The battles of sects conceal geopolitical power struggles. That is to say, the struggle of geopolitical authority continues through denominational distinctions and separations in society, as it knows the hostility between the parties. In such an atmosphere, Turkey is required to preserve its inner integrity and social coherence as far as possible. In such a tense condition, the unnecessary oppression on society and instigating hostilities would cost much more than expected in the final analysis.
A piece by Patrick Cockburn, who knows Iraq and Syria very well, was recently published in the London Review of Books. The article underlines that something which has been worried about for a long time has become clearer since the Syrian war began to spread. Turkey has so far experienced its bloodiest reflection in Reyhanlı. The situation is also becoming uncontrollable in other neighbors. The sectarian battle in Iraq, which actually never ceased, has been triggered again.
Even Sunnis, who once made an alliance with the Iraqi army against Kurds, turned against the central government in the face of the violence used on them. We are now about to enter a period in which explosions and news announcing dozens of deaths will become normal. With its 4 million population, most of Lebanon is struggling under the heavy burden of half a million refugees. Jordan, meanwhile, is dealing with the pressure of both Iraqi and Syrian refugees.
Nobody knows in what way the region will be shaped in future, and no one can be sure that the developments will be controllable. In a political and denominational crisis created by the U.S.-Iraq war and deepened by the Arabic uprisings, Turkey has obtained a great advantage by changing its policies toward the Kurds.
But while doing this, it has not managed to stay away from denominational polarizations. The possibility of getting affected by the poison emitted from Syria is gradually increasing. Things might not work out as one calculates. In this case, it becomes even more difficult to understand the reason for creating new polarizations inside the country.
*Soli Özel is a columnist in daily Habertürk, in which this article appeared on May 29. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.