Turkey is entering a new political phase as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the one-man regime they established struggle to survive. They are now seeking to open new areas of conflict and to deepen the existing ones, consolidating the whole of society under their authoritarian regime.
The most significant group the government has chosen as a conflict area is the Kurds. This, it can be said, follows from their desperation in the face of moves put forth by the Kurdish political movement.
Attempts to trap Kurdish politics into a narrow sphere and annihilate it translate into policies that will trap and annihilate them.
It’s not that they cannot see this, but the only way to keep various cliques within the state together and to have them line up behind them is to act in a belligerent manner regarding the Kurdish issue.
This is a dead end, and such a dead end requires them to play big.
The Kurdish political movement is working to explain how the state’s “play big” strategy condemns society to violence, and to draw attention to what could happen if this situation cannot be overcome. All the while, naturally, all its aims are geared towards nullifying this strategy.
Those who dare to want to win big must prepare to lose big. Could the AKP government take this risk? And could it win?
February’s military operation in Gare, Northern Iraq was a flunk. This failure led to dissident voices within the state getting louder, and while such dissent appears to have died down, there is no guarantee that it won’t gain momentum again.
The government’s policies to drown out their internal crises via war and to repress rising discontent against the government could elevate that discontent to a massive wave turning against it in an instant.
The crisis within the AKP government reveals its soft underbelly: The AKP is not strong but weak. Not united but fractured. The economic crisis, combined with the depression of misgovernment and weariness that comes with two decades in power, looms over the ruling party like a nightmare.
It becomes clearer by the day that the state itself is looking for a breath of fresh air. Of course it is only natural that it looks for that within the alliance established by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which was the Republic of Turkey’s founding party.
The state is comprised of two cliques: The first represented by the People’s Alliance of the AKP and its partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the second by the Nation Alliance led by the CHP. Anybody looking close enough at Turkey’s political arena could tell you that both fronts are also represented within the state.
The AKP-MHP government has invested in the war against Kurds to hold all cliques together and to guarantee its hand, using war as a glue of sorts. However, after the Gare defeat, right-wing opposition Good Party (İYİP) leader and former interior minister Meral Akşener saying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was responsible as the political will that gave the order shows how delicate that balance is.
Turkey has began another election campaign period ahead of the 2023 elections. And once again, a total attack on the Kurdish movement is on the agenda. Erdoğan is putting all his efforts into achieving a war to gain results and the victory he needs.
Erdoğan’s idea to use a victory to make up for his numerous defeats is actually telling of the level of desperation. In return for dropping the veto against Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO, the president wants the green-light for a large scale operation against Rojava.
Such a nod would pull all parties in Turkey to a common ground and put a rift between Kurds and the Nation Alliance.
According to the president, the main way he could win elections is to eliminate the Kurds from the running. Or, in clearer language, he wants to direct the frustration of Kurdish voters towards the opposition to further strengthen whatever fragile support there is.
The jailing of the most progressive and best equipped cadres within Kurdish politics and letting primitive nationalists and those recruited to join his side, who act in tandem with the government, to fill the ensuing vacuum are efforts to create useful idiots for the government’s policies, and should be acknowledged as such.
Counter-propaganda that could ambush the intelligence, strategy and cool headed action of the Kurdish movement is only possible through those who appear to be of the movement but are not.
This government is playing its last hand, and how the game turns out will affect the future of both the Kurdish political movement and Turkey’s political landscape as a whole.
Ultimately, if there is something to be said for the second century of Turkey after its centennial anniversary next year, it cannot be divorced from Kurds. Despite however possible it will be to foil the backward and chauvinistic plans of those who wish to tear Kurds away from democratic politics and their role in the region, Kurdish politics will achieve gains in the second century.