When will the AKP provide the stability it promised?
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in November promising stability for Turkey. So far there is not even a semblance of that stability, as tensions rise domestically and Turkey’s foreign relations are beset with serious problems.
It is not clear where the war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is going. The government is promising that this will end and the healing process will begin soon, but many are doubtful since developments do not confirm the government’s optimism.
This war is also having a corrosive effect on democracy and human rights in Turkey. The latest statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein - which refers to “shocking” video footage of civilians being shot and also to claims of “atrocities” being committed – show that Turkey’s international reputation continues to plummet because of this war.
Meanwhile it is still not clear what results Ankara’s policy towards Syria and Iraq – which also have a bearing on the PKK problem - will produce in the end. Turkey initially put all its eggs in one basket and worked unsuccessfully for regime change in Syria. Now it is putting all its eggs in another basket and concentrating all of its energies on preventing the Syrian Kurds from gaining ground in that country.
Ankara won a minor victory by getting the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of the Syrian Kurds barred from the Geneva talks. But that will most likely turn out to be a hollow victory, as these talks are unlikely to make headway soon and the real lines are being drawn on the battlefield.
The government says it does not want to see either the Bashar al-Assad regime or an autonomous Kurdish entity related to the PKK along its border with Syria, but there are limits to its ability to prevent these from happening given the way things are unfolding in the region.
The refugee problem, on the other hand, continues to spin out of control. The government has no masterplan for this crisis, even though the nearly 2 million refugees are most likely here to stay, and is trying to cope with it by the piecemeal measures. Some of these are already going down badly with the Turkish public.
In the backdrop to this we have an Ankara that is at odds, for one reason or another, with a majority of countries in its region, including Russia. The latest statements from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Ahmet Davutoğlu government also suggest that rapprochement with Israel and Egypt should not be expected anytime soon.
At home, efforts to draft a new constitution are set to produce even more political bickering and confusion, thus deepening internal divisions at a time when the country least needs it. Erdoğan’s insistence that his model of a strong presidential system should be enshrined in a new constitution is also complicating matters.
Many question whether the government’s intention here is to draft a new constitution or to serve Erdoğan’s political ambitions under the guise of drafting a new constitution.
Meanwhile, the economy, while not in crisis, is faced with daily uncertainties due to political instability at home and uncertainties abroad.
Despite all this, the AKP continues to act as if it is not in the eye of a major and complex storm system. It believes there is no need to change course or for policy readjustments because it can win all of these battles and provide the stability it promised.
But how it hopes to do this and fulfill its promise of providing stability is anyone’s guess. What is clear to many, on the other hand, is that difficult days, weeks and months await Turkey.