Things in Turkey will get worse before they get better

Things in Turkey will get worse before they get better

Turkey has entered a dangerous period the likes of which it has never seen since our republic was founded. It is surrounded by enemies or rivals internationally and is a “house divided” domestically. Even the latest atrocity by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet Square is enough to show this. 

In socially advanced countries, such crimes generally unite people. In Turkey, however, everything is used to deepen social divisions. We lack a political elite that is able to put differences aside and rise to the occasion when the country needs it most. 

Looking at our political parties, one has to say that with such a political class, Turkey does not need enemies. A major portion of the blame must go to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the simple reason that they are at the helm. The responsibility in trying to unite the country rests first and foremost with them.

The AKP was elected with a strong mandate on Nov. 1, 2015, by promising stability. Following the June 7 elections, which saw the AKP lose its parliamentary majority, opposition parties were so blinded by their political ambitions that they convinced a significant portion of the electorate that they had nothing to offer.

So the pendulum swung back to the AKP, which not only regained its parliamentary majority but also gained a strong mandate from the people. The performance of the government of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu – which is operating under the overbearing shadow of Erdoğan – so far has shown, however,  that it is more concerned about promoting its personal ambitions, rather than serving the country as a whole.

Erdoğan himself proves almost every day that he is not the president of all of Turkey but only the president of Turks who voted for him and the AKP. Any critic, anyone who did not vote for him or any opponent to the AKP’s policies is his enemy, and the adjectives he uses against them show this.

He is now hounding over 1,000 academics who, acting according to their conscience, have signed a petition critiquing the security operations in the southeast, which are providing scenes reminiscent of Syria, and which are resulting in collateral deaths among innocent civilians, not to mention the “domestic refugees” they are creating. 

It seems that it is not just freedom of expression that is endangered in Turkey, but also the freedom of conscience. A popular television host is also under investigation, accused of “disseminating terrorist propaganda,” because a female caller to his entertainment show asked the public to spare a thought for women and children being killed in the southeast after being caught between the security forces and terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

This is almost Kafkaesque. What makes it stranger is that it is not clear how Erdoğan and Davutoğlu hope to roll back the damaging developments that they have allowed to occur under their watch, and which are preventing them from implementing even their own plans for Turkey. The forces that have been unleashed are bound to backfire on them, too. 

This is also apparent when one looks at Turkey’s current international standing. The AKP has managed to surround the country with enemies or rivals. It has painted Turkey into a corner and does not know how to extract it. 

Looking at what is happening, and considering the inability of its present administrators to look facts in the eye in order to determine realistic policies, one can comfortably, but sadly, say things are going to get much worse in this country before they start getting better.