Turkey must prepare for much more turbulence

Turkey must prepare for much more turbulence

What is important at this stage is not whether the latest tape allegedly revealing a highly incriminating discussion between Prime Minster Erdoğan and his son Bilal is authentic or an insidious fabrication.

It might be authentic and it might not. I am sure we will never know the truth. Those who believe in the authenticity of the recording will continue to do so, come what may, and the same is true for those who believe Erdogan when he says that the recording is a fake.

The question to be asked is, “how long can this war of attrition between Erdoğan and Fetullah Gülen - which is ultimately a struggle to the end between two Islamist groups - go on?” The corollary to this question is, “how long can Erdoğan keep his Justice and Development Party (AKP) united during this war?”

There must, after all, be an increasing number of people within the AKP who are asking themselves some questions about what is happening and where this is all leading, even if they chose, for the sake of party solidarity, to remain silent today.

This is politics at the end of the day. As matters get worse for Erdogan and his inner circle - and hence the party - many within the AKP are more than likely to start wondering what all this will ultimately mean in terms of their own political plans and calculations for the future.

There is an assumption in pro-government circles; at least among those close to Erdoğan, that everything will calm down after the local elections at the end of March once the AKP gets the votes it wants. But this is a mistaken assumption.

All the indications are that things will get worse after the elections, when Erdoğan will go with added fury against his enemies, real or perceived. It is clear that this war is not going to end after the elections because all bridges between the sides have been burned. Put another way, the Rubicon has been crossed, making this a war in which no holds are barred.

The fact that presidential and general elections are up next will also add to the intensity of this war. There is also a very good chance that the larger the vote for the AKP in the local elections the worse the situation will get because Erdogan will feel he has the necessary mandate to run his enemies down. His vindictive speeches show clearly that he is in no compromising mood.

His enemies, on the other hand, among whom one may count the thousands of state officials who have been uprooted and displaced by the government since the Dec. 17 corruption scandal erupted, will clearly not just sit idly and simply let matters rest. They too will be in a vindictive mood.

If the AKP sees a significant drop in its votes in the March elections, even if it comes out the winner, this might help concentrate minds for party executives who have to factor in the presidential elections to be held this year, and the general elections planned for next year. Erdoğan too may be in a more compromising mood then.

But this is by no means guaranteed given that Erdogan sees himself facing an existential zero-sum war that he has to win unconditionally. One thing is therefore certain. Turkey must prepare itself for a prolonged period of political turbulence and instability over the next few years.

It is also apparent that with so many allegations flying around, and much more no doubt to come, it is not possible for Erdogan and his government to provide proper governance; especially when they are embroiled in trying to settle scores with their enemies.

Government circles get angry when they hear you say such things, and accuse you of being a spoiler. But one need not be a political scientist to see what is going on in Turkey today.