Turkey’s fatal voyage

Turkey’s fatal voyage

An Islamist newspaper (Diriliş Postası-Resurrection Post) warns that Turkey should not attack the al-Nusra Front in northern Syria, adding that Turkey should also discourage the United States from doing the same. It explains why: It is al-Nusra that is “doing a favor to Turkey” by withdrawing and giving space to other supposedly more moderate organizations. The next gesture may be that the al-Nusra Front could free the Free Syrian Army soldiers who were captured during an al-Nusra attack on coalition-trained troops. As such, al-Nusra (which is listed as a terrorist organization) should not be provoked, the paper suggests. No matter that al-Nusra is categorized as a radical Islamist terrorist organization and attacked and killed coalition-trained soldiers just a short while ago! 

No, it is no marginal Islamist paper; on the contrary, it reflects the Islamist government’s views, so much so that it is on the shopping list of Turkish Airlines and can be picked up for free in airports and on planes. More mainstream pro-Islamic newspapers imply more or less the same message, while also not refraining from war cries against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). 

It seems that there is no worry that armed operations against the PKK and attacks against the HDP might run the risk of provoking a civil war in Turkey. The government dismisses all calls for a ceasefire as “playing into the hands of the PKK” and, moreover, refuses to engage in any dialogue with the Kurdish HDP in parliament since the HDP has been stripped of its democratic legitimacy in the eyes of the government and its supporters. Apart from the calls initiated by the president for judicial action against HDP politicians in parliament, many minor party members are now being detained on accusations that they are linked with the PKK. It means that al-Nusra is less a threat and more an agreeable interlocutor than not only the PKK but also the HDP in the eyes of government circles. 

As for the president and his party’s plan to overcome the government’s crises, it is to go to an “early election,” whose theme will be “the war on PKK terror.” Everybody knows that the HDP has some links with the PKK and that it is supported by PKK supporters. Nonetheless, the HDP got 13 percent votes in the June 7 election, which is beyond PKK support in the Kurdish region. 

Besides, everybody knows that the most unforgivable crime of the HDP was its refusal of the “presidential system.” The government’s real problem with the HDP seems to be the HDP’s growing democratic support and its success in the democratic field. Otherwise, the government was happy to talk to PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on a peace plan and still some government politicians and supporters are flattering Öcalan for his supposed criticism of the HDP. Yalçın Akdoğan, vice president of the AKP, only recently claimed that “given the chance, Öcalan would chase HDP politicians with a stick.” After all, the AKP seems to have no problem with “stick politics” – be it Öcalan’s stick or theirs. 

The core of the problem with Kurds is a highly desired “deal with Kurds on the presidential system,” and it will not be settled until Kurds are forced to agree. In fact, it is not only the core of the problem with the Kurds; it appears that the president and his government will not agree with anyone on anything other than changing the political system. Moreover, it seems that they will not need to agree with anyone on anything if they manage to change the system. 

Theirs is fatal attraction and ours is a fatal voyage into a nightmare.