Does PM Davutoğlu remember what he told al-Assad in 2011?
I'm sure he remembers. It lasted hours, that final meeting of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, when Davutoğlu was still the foreign minister.
He conveyed his views to al-Assad on many topics, from the Syrian Constitution to democracy, from elections to the way to cope with street demonstrations. He tried to convince al-Assad not to clamp down too hard on demonstrators on the street and, instead, make democratic reforms.
Davutoğlu has explained the content of this meeting numerous times. I have personally listened to a couple of these explanations myself. One piece of advice that Davutoğlu gave to al-Assad was this: “Don't accept as 100 percent correct everything your security personnel around you say.”
Davutoğlu told al-Assad that “those who see everything through the glasses of security misinterpret democratic, sociological developments and drag themselves into a disaster.”
As a matter of fact, if al-Assad had not attacked those who staged peaceful protests around mosques with real bullets, if he had held local elections including opposition parties, if he had allowed a multi-party parliamentarian system with constitutional reform, if he had opened the way to multi-candidate presidential elections, today the world would be saying something else.
When he did the opposite of Davutoğlu’s advice and those peaceful protestors who were fired upon with real bullets evolved into “armed opposition” within a short space of time, the country turned into a bloodbath. Snipers were not enough for al-Assad, he started killing his own people with his air force and chemical weapons, and he has still not obtained security.
Why am I saying all of this?
Davutoğlu, who was able to see what was going to happen in Syria from way back then, is now leading a Turkish government that has become the captive of serious security concerns about its own people.
Yes, last week’s rehearsal of “serhildan” (rebellion in Kurdish) was extremely harmful, and dozens of people died. But adding fuel to the flames by saying we would retaliate in kind, saying, “We will buy 10 water cannon vehicles [TOMA] for every one destroyed,” isn't that the viewpoint of a security person?
Instead of communicating with the people in a constructive language, when was the last time that positive results were obtained after saying, “I am the state. If you show your face, you will taste the force of my fist?”
We are questioning the U.S.’s Iraq and Syria strategy. It's good that we are doing that, but what about our strategy for our own domestic peace?
Really, do we have a strategy apart from buying new TOMAs? If we do, then why are we not applying it?
The CHP and judicial reform
The government, in a sense, has been acting like an elephant in a china store since the Dec. 17 and 25 corruption operations last year.
Claiming that these two investigations were coup attempts against it, it has made several changes in fundamental laws. The aim is to disable future “attacks” with the help of the police and the judiciary.
The last Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) elections were unpleasantly interfered in by the government. A pro-government coalition won the elections, but left huge damage behind.
Maybe the government has prevented the justice system from being controlled by the Gülen "community" for four more years, but debates on the judiciary coming under the control of the government have now started, for good reason.
As a result, these elections were ones where the "community" was the biggest loser, but where nobody actually won, and where everybody lost to varying degrees.
Here, in our country, these matters are discussed heatedly but later forgotten. It should be different this time because the issue of the justice system is not a field where we can just sweep problems under the carpet. As a matter of fact, the issues of today were formed by sweeping problems under the carpet in the first place.
I think the most critical and most constructive duties belong to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on this issue.
The party can study, research and propose a constitutional amendment to the government that would solve the administrative management of our judiciary in such a way that would not allow such issues to be experienced again. The constitutional article regarding the HSYK, which was amended in the 2010 referendum, would once more be reviewed, but this time with a broader consensus. I don’t think the government is closed to such a proposal.
We know that laws which come from sincere, real compromises between the two main political streams are the longest lasting ones in our country. We know that from the first product of such reconciliation: The law on monitoring elections.