Sülün Osman tactics
So far Turkey is not at war with Russia, but it definitely has a confidence crisis which carries the risk of becoming more dangerous than the current dimension. Forget the nasty odor coming from its diapers, this cherubic newborn crisis with Russia demonstrates the dimension of the risks the tall man of Ankara and his prime minister might undertake. For what? Obviously what’s in place are some sort of tactics employed by the legendary Sülün Osman (1923-1984) of Istanbul, who allegedly distracted the attention of people and emptied their pockets, or, with some convincing stories, even tried to sell the Galata bridge to gullible newcomers from Anatolia.
Turkey’s recent history is rich with evidence of how the Turkish public, and often those interested in democratic reforms in Turkey, were effectively fooled by Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments. Sometimes, like the famous attempt to recriminalize adultery, nasty developments forced them to reveal their hands before they completed staging in full the planned mockery, but often they indeed performed rather better than Sülün Osman. The one-judge criminal courts the AKP introduced while they abrogated the notorious heavy criminal courts or the heavy criminal courts introduced as they abolished the state security courts testify to their creativity in fooling the people. At the end of the day the Islamist government still has special courts to prosecute opponents. Worse, while the former state security courts or the heavy criminal courts all had a panel of judges, after the reform the country now has one-judge criminal courts. The previous ones were awesome; the current one is like a nightmare… Ask the Gülenists to explain the current judicial torture or ask Mustafa Balbay, now an MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), what a splendid torture it was to be tried by the special Silivri tribunal and spend almost six years behind bars at the Silivri concentration camp.
While the entire nation and the world are concentrated on Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet and how brutally Turkey’s kinsmen in Syria murdered one of the parachuted Russian pilots while chanting mujahedeen slogans, a new cabinet was introduced and a new play started to be staged in Ankara’s political theatre. What is the play? Come on, you could not figure it out by now? The ruling AKP clan started talking once again of the need to carry Turkey to presidential governance, avoid all political crisis and move forward with politically stable, firm governance.
Same actors, same play… The nation was against it a while ago, but who knows what it thinks now. A chameleon is often wrongly accused of not being stable, changing its colors and fitting to all conditions. It is an animal trying to survive and indeed it has proven to be rather successful at survival. What about the Turkish nation? Was it its chameleon capability which allowed it to shift its electoral preferences so quickly from June to November and push the AKP back into single-party governance, which the party was denied during the hot summer, in the fall? Was it just a survival tactic to abandon democratic hopes with strong and perhaps autocratic governance, seeing that it was being murdered in the hundreds, pockets were emptied of greenbacks and there was no hope the opposition could pull its pants on and assume responsibility? Whatever the case, the AKP has been repeatedly successful in not only fooling people but making people feel gratitude to the AKP for fooling them.
Now, would Turkey enter a war with Russia? Would Russia want to engage in war with NATO-member Turkey? This is deterrence politics. Turkey, for whatever reason, undertook a calculated risk. It was aware that NATO-member Turkey could not be easily retaliated against by Russia. Perhaps to further boost its hand, that was why Turkey downed the Russian jet and like a spoiled kid who wanted to place the blame on the other kid, rushed to the mother and complained about the incident first. If Turkey was not attacked, why did Turkey call NATO to an emergency meeting and force the alliance to declare solidarity with Ankara? Probably, even though the risk was a calculated one, Ankara’s policy-makers wanted to take some deterrent moves and make sure the bear would not strike back.
Now, for some time this crisis will continue. Russian tourists will cancel their holiday plans. Russia will turn away trucks of Turkish vegetables at its border. Every other day Turks will read in newspapers stories of probable cold evenings because of problems in the Russian gas supply. In the meantime, step-by-step the not-so-discreet but successfully veiled program of carrying Turkey to a dictatorial Turkish-type presidential system with no checks and balances will be introduced. At what cost? To see that one must concentrate on the AKP’s Sülün Osman tactics. How will it woo and win back the hearts of either the pro-Kurdish MPs or, most likely, the nationalists? It needs either of the two, preferably the nationalists, to carry further the dictatorial ambitions of the tall, bold, bald and ever angry man with a very clever son skilled in the oil and gas business with troubled neighboring lands and a son-in-law in charge of energy issues.