The Feb. 28 Process created the AKP and Erdoğan
As the Feb. 28 file temporarily draws to a close, it is worth being acquainted with a few final facts.
A fundamental misevaluation by the entire secular section of Turkish society lies at the top of all these.
I am speaking of everyone’s failure to monitor society’s pulse correctly: from politicians to soldiers, and from non–governmental organizations (NGOs) to the media establishment.
These people, who interpreted the advances scored by the Welfare Party after the municipal elections of 1994 as the advent of reactionary-ism, failed to notice the discontent among the general populace. This had nothing to do with religion. It was more about reacting to the general course of events brought on by that haughty attitude, the mismanagement of the country and economic weaknesses that had prevailed for years on end.
The secular constituency believed that beating people’s heads would eventually turn everything turn into a rose garden.
However, the Feb. 28 Process and its aftermath begat the Justice and Development Party (AKP). It also elevated Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a position of leadership, particularly in the wake of his imprisonment. The AKP would surely have entered the political scene in the future anyway, but the Feb. 28 Process smoothed out its path to ascendancy.
If the strains of this period had never come about, the Welfare Party today would have been a mid–sized party mired in internal turmoil and fighting for its survival. It would either be seeking a new leader or submitting itself to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s will, following the passing of Erbakan.
If this process had not come about and those mistakes had not been committed, mainstream parties (especially the ANAP and DYP) that had been trying to topple the Çiller–Erbakan duo through dead–end politics and by relying on the military instead of democracy, would not have crumbled and fallen as they did.
If this process had not come about, the AKP probably would not have stayed in power for this long, and perhaps Abdullah Gül would have continued his career at the Foreign Ministry instead of the presidency.
Abdullah Gül was the most important figure
Abdullah Gül was the most important figure in the establishment of the AKP.
What surprised me most in making this documentary was the nature of the relations between Gül, Arınç and Erdoğan in the process of the AKP’s establishment, their rise to leadership and the prime ministry. I was intrigued by the lack of the kind of a political relationship that is familiar to us and that is marked by rivalry over leadership.
Abdullah Gül was undoubtedly the key figure throughout this period.
This group came to lead those who understood they were never going to be able to share power without breaking away from Erbakan’s cadres. Arınç’s desire to see Gül at the party’s helm from the very start met with no conflict or political negotiations. Gül handed over his seat to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan without any difficulty, after his sound assessment regarding Erdoğan’s skyrocketing popularity in wake of his release from prison. He transferred power to Erdoğan following Erdoğan’s election as a deputy, despite the fact that he could have remained prime minister until the year’s end. Such incidents must have never occurred in any other party before.
Those days were very important, in that they revealed the nature of relations among the AKP’s core figures.
Whichever way you look at it from, Abdullah Gül was always a frontline figure during the Feb. 28 Process and its aftermath. He emerges as a persona who refrains from raising his voice and does not strive to raise his profile, but who persistently gets his views implemented nonetheless. Gül’s role was particularly important in the making of the most critical decisions regarding the Turkish Armed Forces.
It is this stance, and the attitude he has shown during his reign as president, that leads to him being singled out as the only person who could ascend to the head of the AKP after Erdoğan.
Do not repeat our mistakes
We have slammed secularists and their acting gendarmerie the Armed Forces in relation to the Feb. 28 Process enough. We criticized them and tore their old ways into shreds.
Everything up till this point has been understandable.
Now, I would like to share with you my doubts and worries about what is to follow.
These days, I see an inclination in the AKP and the circles that make up its periphery to repeat the same mistakes we committed in past years.
That would be the gravest mistake of all.
There are signs the governing party is giving in to the same tendencies, just as we manufactured a judiciary, legal system and ideology in accordance with our views to keep a system of our choice in business, imposing secularism by force onto both the willing and the unwilling. Impressions to this effect are growing more and more.
Now in turn, the government is also presenting an attitude that suggests it would like to impose its own world and establish its own ideologies as well. Although nothing seems to be forced yet, there is a lingering doubt that legal amendments and the “wheel balance” in education are paving the way to a real, established ideology that is not merely content with peer pressure in the neighborhood.
More importantly, no one is exerting any effort to scatter such clouds of doubt.
You cannot imagine what a great error that would be.
Make no mistake; the same ball would jump back and forth and eventually land on somebody else’s court this time around.
It is essential to keep history from repeating itself.
That would be true prowess.