AKP gets appreciated for fixing what it breaks
“[President] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has proven to be a world leader. He mends fences with Russia. And now the U.S. is jealous. Did you see how [U.S. President Barack] Obama was looking at Erdoğan and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin during the G-20 Summit?” an elderly acquaintance recently said to me.
“Who broke ties with Russia in the first place?” I asked.
“The Turkish government,” he replied.
“So now you are appreciating Erdoğan for fixing what he broke,” I said.
Thank God he is at least wise enough not to be convinced of the government’s implication that the downing of the Russian plane was a plot by Gülenists, as the two pilots who pushed the button are under arrest for being members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization. (FETÖ)
Nevertheless, “I do, then I undo what I did” has become something of a pattern under Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule.
Russia is one example of this pattern. The FETÖ issue is another one. Who enabled the Gülenists to become so powerful and transform into a dark and evil force? The AKP. AKP rulers encouraged everyone, students, academics, businesspeople, to walk on the same road with the Gülenists. Now it wants to be appreciated for saving the nation from evil.
Ups and downs on the Kurdish issue
Look at the Kurdish issue too. It is little over a year since armed conflict resumed between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish army. But just a few days prior to the resumption of clashes in the country’s southeast, the Kurdish political movement saw a first, with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) getting 13 percent of the votes in the general election of June 7, 2015, while the AKP suffered heavy losses.
I bet that if you were to conduct a poll among Turks, they would not even remember what was being negotiated during the “peace process.” The government wanted to see the end of the armed struggle and therefore asked for the withdrawal of armed PKK members across the border.
What were the Kurds asking for in exchange? Decentralization? Extended local administrative rights? Autonomy? Education in Kurdish? I am not sure even those ethnic Turks who voted for the HDP know the answer.
What we know today is that the government did not like the fact that it had lost votes to the HDP, while the PKK did not like the fact that legal politics were gaining ground against the armed conflict. The AKP said, “I will undo what I did, I will suspend the peace process,” and this suited the PKK.
The ensuing clashes produced the desired outcome for both the government and the PKK. In the subsequent November 2015 general election, the AKP won back the votes that had gone to both the HDP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which suffered serious losses. The politics of terror gained the upper hand.
The government launched a huge military campaign in the southeast. With curfews lasting for weeks and cities and villages left in ruins, it was like a state of emergency. A majority of Turks – and also, most importantly, ethnic Kurds - gave the government credit during that bloody campaign. We have not witnessed any meaningful protests or demonstrations by the Kurds in Europe, for example, despite the fierce intensity of the clashes in Turkey’s southeast.
And then came the July 15 coup attempt. On that night, a number of Kurds in the southeast stood up against the tanks in support of the government.
And the answer of the government has been to suspend 11,000 teachers suspected of having links with the PKK. Instead of healing the wounds opened during the year-long clashes, it is aggravating the situation. The credit that was given to the AKP may quickly melt away - and the PKK will make sure to benefit from that.
An AKP classic: I break what I fixed and fix what I break. And we’ll continue watching with great desperation.