How to walk to the presidency

How to walk to the presidency

A war is continuing in Turkey; a war far bigger than Israel’s eight-day war of attrition on Gaza. There are several campaigns of this war. Fierce fighting continues on the Gülen front while important strides have so far been achieved in the Kurdish front. On the nationalist front, the chief commander is still pondering which tactic to follow.

Indeed, there are suspicions that the absolute commander has not even made up his final decision how to capture the presidential hill? Should he walk to the hill which still hosts the historic vineyard house as well as the posh presidential complex through the main gate across the official prime ministry residence? Or, should he march up the hill singing a nationalist song or with a two step forth, one step back janissary march in harmony with the tunes of the Mehteran Band? Should he walk there while a team of mullahs recite from the holy book?

An eminent friend from the Islamist flank of the society, Professor İhsan Dağı was commenting the other day that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not yet made up his mind on how to walk to the presidency. Would he climb there with the Kurdish ladder or would he prefer the nationalist one. Could he indeed believe that he has sufficient electoral base to carry him anywhere he wanted; that he no longer needs any sort of crutch to help him toward any position, including the presidency, and thus abandon the Fethullah Gülen Islamist brotherhood?

Mind you, no one asks whether he would be a candidate for presidency. The question is how he will want to be elected. Would he try to appease the nationalists, play nationalist tunes and become harsher on the Kurdish separatists? That would mean blood and pain ahead. Would he woo the Kurds, walk the reform road, align with the West? Could Turkey manage to preserve its integrity if he pragmatically and with accustomed opportunism walks that road?

What about the campaign against the Gülenists? Yes, the premier believed he has 50 percent of the electoral support and no longer needed Gülenists and thus had no reason to share power with them. Closure of the private courses (dershanes) where Gülenists organized best is in the cards. Such a step would mean all out war with the Gülenists. Can he dare? The premier says he is “absolutely determined,” but is he? On the Internet, the F-group has been campaigning for some time to build pressure and save their dershanes. Fethullah Gülen Hodja, on the other hand, has already instructed his people to open student hostels should dershanes be closed.

The latest flare-up of the prime minister regarding the “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” TV series indicated that he will probably play the nationalist-religious card again. But, can he fool nationalist-religious conservatives with such cheap rhetoric revealing his mindset? A leading newspaper of that group, Milli Gazete, replied with a banner: “Can’t fool us!”

How sad it is indeed for Erdoğan if he cannot fool his die-hard political base.