Gayatri Galloway, Memed Aksoy and George Galloway
15 March 2016
by Memed Aksoy
Recently I appeared for the second time on Russia Today's 'Sputnik Orbiting The World' hosted by George Galloway and Gayatri Galloway. This time our topic of discussion was centred around Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's tightening grip on power, tensions and struggle between the government and the Gülen Movement, freedom of expression, media and judiciary and the war on the Kurds.
Once again due to time constraints not everything that was necessary to complete the discussion was said. I would like to add some notes to the discussion, which you can watch at this link or at the bottom of the page.
The most important point to add to the discussion is that there are currently two camps in Turkey; one camp is the Erdogan and AKP government camp, which includes the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and large sections of the co-opted Republican People's Party (CHP) as well as conservative, neo-liberal, right-wing circles outside parliament. This camp's character is statist, nationalist, Islamist and authoritarian and its aim to get Turkey through the next 5-7 years with the state, status-quo and its borders intact regardless of any cost.
The second camp, which is much smaller is headed ideologically by imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan and politically by Selahattin Demirtas and includes the Kurdish movement, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), socialist and leftist parties and groups in Turkey and North Kurdistan and certain social democrat, labour and minority groups in Turkish society. This camp's character is based on democratising and strengthening society, weakening the centralised state and building local democratic structures for regional autonomy to resolve Turkey's longstanding Kurdish question as well as other deep-rooted issues.
Making this distinction in the light of recent developments - the declaration of the Peoples' United Revolutionary Movement, the Ankara bomb and Turkey's continued attacks on Kurdish towns within Turkey and also across the border in Rojava - is important because these two camps represent the fundamental contradiction in Turkey, not Erdogan and Gülen. But Erdogan's rhetoric has also escalated the polarisation and dichotomy that has been formed. Increasingly his rhetoric has echoed George W. Bush's "war on terror - us against them" rhetoric before the invasion of Iraq and we all know how that turned out. Unfortunately, now more than ever Turkey is faced with the danger of civil war and it is the policies of the government and president that has created the current crisis.
It is questionable whether Erdogan and the AKP ever had the intention of resolving the Kurdish question or writing up a new constitution, as they have been in power for 14 years and are yet to do either. What is for sure is that their time and credit has run out, because for the Kurds and democracy forces of Turkey who have been waiting for almost 100 years, now is a historic moment. It will either bring about lasting change in the region and strengthen a secular, leftist, democratic movement that can go on to play an active part in the politics of the Turkey or it will consolidate the AKP's historical political line, which will continue meaning an attack on freedoms, democracy and human rights.
The EU, US and other powers will not intervene or be overly critical of Erdogan and the Turkish government in the coming months or year. Although they are not very happy with Erdogan's performance and intermittent outbursts targeting them, they will try to keep him onside for as long as possible. I believe Erdogan knows he has lost their support and this is why he has turned his attention to crushing the opposition within Turkey and North Kurdistan. He believes that he will be able to stay in power electorally if he controls public perception and opinion using the media and silences dissent using the judiciary and military. But the history of Turkey and world governments tells us that this is not necessarily the case. If the 'superpowers' do decide to get rid of Erdogan and he is weakened enough to achieve this, then a very difficult time will be on the cards for the 'neo-sultan' of Turkey. Some quarters are even saying Erdogan could find himself at the International Criminal Court, to be tried for war crimes against Kurds and in Syria.
Dare I say we have crossed a line recently and there is no turning back, this may be a fight to the death.
- Memed Aksoy