This has to be a wake-up call
Turkey has never been as deeply divided as it is today. Different social groups are trying to settle various historic and political accounts. There is the Turkish-Kurdish fault line, the religious-secular fault line and the Alevi-Sunni fault line, not to mention other class and cultural divisions. All of these are highly active currently.
This became apparent once again following the massacre in Ankara on Saturday, which is increasingly believed to have been carried out by elements attached to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). There was a thinly veiled attempt by the pro-government media, for example, to pin the blame on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) without weighing the probability of this contention.
Politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on the other hand, were quick to blame the state as the perpetrator of this horrible crime, also without weighing the probability of this contention. They argued this was part of an effort to get the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to win the general elections on Nov. 1, by pinning the blame for the chaotic state of affairs in Turkey on the HDP, which the AKP sees as the political wing of the PKK.
While not going as far as the HDP to accuse the government directly over the latest atrocity, other opposition parties also believe that the AKP is trying to reap benefits from the chaotic environment that emerged literally overnight following the June 7 elections. The bottom line is that a highly poisonous political atmosphere has been allowed to emerge in Turkey by uncompromising politicians.
Many say President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s abrasive manners and open canvassing for the AKP, which he is not allowed to do under the constitution, have made matters worse. It is no secret that Erdoğan expects a strong result for the AKP on Nov. 1, having failed to achieve this in the June elections, in order to fulfill his own leadership ambitions.
He himself has said that the country needs an executive president with strong powers to keep things in order. Given his authoritarian tendencies and deep dislike for the prerequisites of any true democracy, such as a free press, Erdoğan’s general approach has caused serious concerns at home and abroad about the future of democracy in Turkey.
It is becoming increasingly apparent, however, that Erdoğan’s political ambitions will not be fulfilled even if the AKP gains its parliamentary majority on Nov. 1 by a slim majority. Most surveys show that we will in fact face the prospect of another coalition on the night of Nov.1, after the results are in.
Some argue that Erdoğan will push for early elections again in that case because he needs the AKP to be in power on its own in order to provide him cover against charges of corruption and abuse of power, which the opposition has vowed to pursue. But many are also betting that these elections will be the beginning of the end for Erdoğan since he will have no options left if the AKP fails again.
The problem for Turkey, however, is that the negative dynamics set loose in the country after the June elections will take time and effort to bring under control and put the country back on its normal path, regardless of who comes to power.
Those who sowed a wind to serve their political interests have left the country facing a whirlwind now. It is time, therefore, for politicians of all shades to leave aside their vendettas and to think about the future of the country instead. They have to realize that if this ship sinks, we all sink with it. The death of nearly 100 mostly young peace activists - many of whom represented the bright face of modern Turkey – not to mention the hundreds injured, should act as a wakeup call.
If it doesn’t, it is hard to imagine what will. +++