AKP’s ‘spell reversing,’ pro-gov’t columnist claims

AKP’s ‘spell reversing,’ pro-gov’t columnist claims

AKP’s ‘spell reversing,’ pro-gov’t columnist claims

President Erdoğan, as well as several government figures including Prime Minister Davutoğlu, had attended the wedding of Yeni Şafak columnist Abdülkadir Selvi's daughter.

A Turkish columnist close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP or AK Parti) administration has warned the party amid the ongoing “infighting” between the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying the “spell” of stability the party had held is being reversed.

The AKP “has a spell,” daily Yeni Şafak columnist Abdülkadir Selvi warned on March 23. “Masses preferred the AK Parti because it was the symbol of stability. Now this spell is being reversed,” he said.

Selvi is regarded as one of the writers close to government figures, as well as Erdoğan, in Turkey’s staunchly pro-government media.

His comment, which has been considered “unusual” by many observers as seen on Turkish social media on March 23, came as Turkey’s Kurdish peace process had led to a rift between the government and Erdoğan.

On March 20, Erdoğan had objected to the formation of an “independent” group to monitor the peace process, which was previously agreed upon by the government and Turkey’s Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Hours after Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which shares a similar supporter base with the HDP, called on the PKK to convene a congress to lay down arms, Erdoğan slammed the government once again on March 21.

In response to Erdoğan, who said it was wrong for the government and party members to take a picture together with members of the HDP, government spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told March 22 that the government “loves the president” but has its own “responsibilities.” 

Öcalan’s ‘edited’ words

Quoting unnamed sources, Selvi wrote March 23 that the original message of Öcalan had two important additions, which were both removed during talks with the PKK’s leaders in Iraq’s Kandil Mountains. The government approved the edited message.

According to Selvi, Öcalan was setting a specific date for the PKK congress, April 15, several weeks before the general elections scheduled for June 7. 

Moreover, he was referring to the “common history” of Turks and Kurds with a more specific reference to Süleyman Shah, an Ottoman or Seljuk warrior. 

Facing the threat posed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, Süleyman Şah’s historic tomb was recently moved inside Syria by the Turkish army, reportedly with the cooperation of the Syrian Kurdish forces.

Erdoğan “sees some of these steps as attempts from Öcalan to legitimize himself,” leading to the current “split in opinion” between the Turkish president and the government, which he blames for “transforming the process into a negotiation between equals.”

Unprecedented ‘infighting’

Analysts say Erdoğan might be worried the AKP, which he left behind as he ascended to the seat of the presidency, will enter the upcoming elections by losing the nationalist Turkish votes due to the negative perceptions related to the Kurdish peace bid. 

It would make it almost impossible for the AKP to get 400 seats in the parliament after the elections, which Erdoğan had set as a target to change the constitution and switch Turkey’s parliamentarian system into a presidential one.

Selvi described the current tension between Erdoğan and the government as a “serious situation.”

“Since it was established on Aug. 14, 2001, the AK Parti had never experienced the kind of infighting that it has been doing in the past three months,” he said.