Turkey debates renewing election amid anti-ISIL fight

Turkey debates renewing election amid anti-ISIL fight

You can read the details in Serkan Demirtaş’s story in today’s edition of Hürriyet Daily News; Turkey’s Incirlik air base is soon to become the hub for military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by the U.S.-led coalition of countries.

According to Western diplomatic sources, the Turkish Air Force will “very soon” start to hit ISIL targets in civil war-struck Syria as soon as U.S. and other coalition planes arrive in Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently said the “real fight” would begin then.

In retaliation to attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkish forces have escalated operations on PKK bases in northern Iraq, which has caused criticism in the West, with claims of weakening the fight against ISIL. When asked on Aug. 6, U.S. President Barack Obama said Turkey had the right to defend itself against the PKK but the focus of his deal with Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, which was sealed during a telephone conversation on July 22, was on ISIL. British Ambassador to Ankara Richard Moore said on Aug. 7 the PKK should stop its armed attacks for the resumption of the dialogue with the government and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.

When the “real fight” starts against ISIL, as the minister stated, the security situation in Turkey could get worse, with repercussions from both ISIL and the PKK if there is no improvement in the PKK situation by then.

Under these circumstances, Turkish politics has not been able to produce a coalition government since Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government lost its parliamentary majority in the June 7 election.

Following weeks-long meetings between the delegations of the two parties, PM Davutoğlu and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP), are scheduled to meet on the evening of Aug. 10. 

Kılıçdaroğlu said recently he believed Davutoğlu “sincerely” wanted to form a coalition government with the CHP, but he didn’t believe Erdoğan would let him do so. CHP people believe Erdoğan wanted to drag the country to another election under the current circumstances, amid the anti-ISIL fight for example, in order to try his chances once again to get a parliamentary majority for the AK Parti, so that he could exercise full executive powers, with or without a constitutional change.

When it was announced the CHP was going to gather all its MPs and provincial chiefs together on Aug. 12 in Ankara, commentators thought it might be related to a possible coalition with the AK Parti. But ranking sources told Hürriyet Daily News the agenda was actually to get ready for an election, with concerns there would be no coalition and the AK Parti was playing with time. CHP people think if the AK Parti would not let the president form an election government - since Erdoğan does not want to appoint ministers from the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) - and attempt to produce a parliamentary decision by by-passing the law, they could take the issue to the Constitutional Court and make life equally difficult for them.