10 questions we are too afraid to ask in Turkey
The Turkish Republic, just like the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago, is heading into its longest year. It’s such an irony that the more things change, the more they practically stay the same. Turkey’s president wants to ignore a highly popular election result and start all over again, and reformists and the secular opposition parties are too shy and too incapable of changing the dynamics.
So here is my bucket list of questions before everything gets more complicated:
1) Does the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) really believe in peace? The answer is no. The existential motivation behind a terrorist organization is its force to fight and human casualties are a side issue. According to a very informed source, the PKK has turned into an “absolute terrorist” organization. Before, it was a regional Kurdish terrorist group. Now it has a bigger base and bigger brand recognition.
2) Has the Turkish state been caught off-guard? Again no. Turkey’s intelligence received a very detailed report on how to deal with the peace process in 2008. Former Deputy Undersecretary Emre Taner personally received that report. It is either kept in one of the drawers or buried somewhere in Yenimahalle. The brains that created the report are no longer alive. Surprise!
3) Can Turkey go to a normal election? Once again the answer is no. Technically speaking, currently there is very little voting security in the southeast. Under these circumstances, elections should be held around spring time. The question is will there be peace by then?
4) Is there a way out of this? Yes. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) can sign a declaration to provide limited support for the Justice and Development Party (Ak Party) until the elections or otherwise choose to keep the status quo, which could be costlier for both sides.
5) Can the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) do something? Absolutely yes. With a solid 80 MPs in Parliament, it can easily push for a real cease-fire from the PKK side. On every street, on every road in the southeast they should be the guardians of peace and security forces. HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş can even request an appointment to talk to Gen. Hulusi Akar. Hey, what if he says yes?
6) Will the Syrian refugees ever go back? Let’s admit it. Even if it stays as a whole, Syria is no longer the Syria we used to know. My good friend from the opposition, Mrs. Mouna Ghanem, told me this last week: “If we do not stop this war, Turkey will be lost. I am more afraid for Turkey than for Syria.” So, the answer is no.
7) Will there be an independent Kurdish state? Within three years’ time, most likely. The real question is will there be a Barzani dynasty there to run it?
8) Can Turkey handle this turmoil? Economically this year and 2016 will be worse than the 2008 crisis. Most big retailers, household goods producers are gearing up for a massive shrinkage in the market. Spending power and confidence will dramatically decrease. So the sooner the decision is made, the better for all sides.
9) Is it all that bad? Yes and no.
10) So what now? Turkey will focus more on the internal dynamics and social issues for a couple of years, slowly building regional alliances again, mostly with Iran, then even maybe with Israel. Secular democracy, the potential of the youth and regional power will eventually triumph over this.