Everything is getting worse and worse in Turkey

Everything is getting worse and worse in Turkey

I have been off from my Hürriyet Daily News column for two weeks. It is not just that I needed some vacation time - I also naively hoped that Turkey could be slightly better when I returned to writing on it. But indeed I was nothing but naive. 

The Turkey of today looks like a horror tunnel with no end in sight. We have many grave troubles, just one of which would be enough to deeply trouble any normal country. Moreover, these troubles are all interactive, and are working together to tear apart Turkey’s societal peace and stability. 

First, there is the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Since mid-June, when the two-and-a-half-year-old “peace process” between the government and the PKK crumbled, the PKK has been relentlessly attacking Turkey’s security forces. The death toll has long passed 100. Just in the past four days, 16 soldiers and 14 policemen were killed in PKK ambushes. These are not just statistics. Every one of these “martyrs,” as we call them in Turkey, are young men with families, wives, children, babies. Each one of their story is a tragedy and a scar on the nation.

The PKK is no heroic guerilla army rightfully fighting ISIS, as has lately been romanticized in the Western media. The PKK - or, more precisely, its Syrian offshoot - is more than welcome to fight ISIS. But the group also wants to establish its totalitarian “state” in all southeastern provinces of Turkey, despite all those who reject it, including millions of Kurdish “traitors.” It sees no problem in killing thousands of Turks and sacrificing even more of its own guerillas for this cause. 

But I wish the PKK were our only problem. On the other side, there is a growing militancy among the supporters of President Tayyip Erdoğan. Typically, they see every opponent and critic of the president as a “traitor” to the nation, who are in bed with all the nefarious powers out there, from the PKK to “Zionism.”

This militancy was seen in action on Sunday night, when some 200 supporters of Erdoğan staged an angry rally in front the daily Hürriyet building, throwing stones, breaking windows, and trying to break into the building. Among them was Abdürrahim Boynukalın, an AKP MP and the head of the party’s youth organization. He condemned the Doğan Group, the company that owned daily Hürriyet, as “the same thing” as the PKK. He also vowed that “we will kick all of them out after Nov. 1,” referring to the upcoming general elections.

The reason for all this militancy was a mere headline on Hürriyet’s webpage, reading: “Erdoğan spoke on Dağlıca: This is all happening because there are no 400 MPs.” The “400 MPs” was something Erdoğan had demanded - implicitly, for his AKP - during the campaign for the June 7 election. On the night of the attack on the Turkish garrison at Dağlıca, a point near the Iraqi border, Erdoğan had repeated the same argument on TV, saying that “terror would be fought more effectively” if there were 400 MPs of the same party (i.e. the AKP). He did not specifically mention Dağlıca, so it was a mistake to present the news like that. It was, at worst, a comment on what Erdoğan had really been saying. 

The worrying thing is that any news or comment that displeases Erdoğan can now become justification for a violent action among pro-Erdoğan militants. The wiser people in the AKP should really curb this ugly trend that is being pumped every day by the pro-Erdoğan media. Otherwise the consequences might be horrible for all of us.