(Armedia.am) Last week, radical changes took placein Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East . If by that time Turkey was conducting the so-called moderate foreign policy and did not directly interfere in the chaos in neighboring countries, last week after telephone conversation between the presidents of Turkey and the United States, Erdogan agreed to open air bases in Incirlik and Diyarbakir, which would allow the NATO partners to conduct air strikes in the direction of IS militants in Syria.
At the same time Turkey organized two direct military actions on two fronts – air strikes in the direction of Syria against the “Islamic State”, as well as in the direction of Northern Iraq against PKK fighters.
(IndefenceofMarxism): While NATO throws its weight behind the reactionary Erdogan government, he continues his onslaught against Kurdish and left forces. Erdogan however, is acting from a position of weakness and he could provoke a mass movement against himself.
“The Kurds were born to be betrayed. Almost every would-be Middle East statelet was promised freedom after the First World War, and the Kurds even sent a delegation to Versailles to ask for a nation and safe borders.” – Robert Fisk
Turkish auto workers on strike in 2015
Yet again, today, the major western imperialist powers gathered to under-sign yet another betrayal of this tested people, whose fate has been traded between every major power of the region for a hundred years, as if it were just another item on their shopping list. Following the emergency meeting of NATO – a very rare event – General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg expressed “strong solidarity” with Turkey in its war on “terrorism”. The joint declaration by the NATO members stated that, “The security of the alliance is indivisible,” and condemned the recent terror attacks in Turkey, describing terrorism as “a global threat that knows no border, nationality, or religion — a challenge that the international community must fight and tackle together.”
Erdoğan’s “New Turkey”: End of Pragmatism?
On June 7, 2015, Turkish constituents will be visiting the ballot box to elect a new leader. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has won seven consecutive elections (three general, three local and one Presidential) in the past 13 years, is once again the main contender of this election cycle.
This time, however, there are different dynamics shaping the political scene. For one, opposition parties wage a wiser election campaign this time. Rather than focusing on ideological divides (Turkish/Kurdish; laicite/Islam), and blaming the AKP for polarizing the nation (which has been a valid critique that surprisingly did not gain them much leverage in previous elections), they prioritize social policies pertaining to welfare and democratization. The constructive language that they adopt in their election programs and the concrete steps they lay out online, through social media, and on the ground, through political rallies, instil in the constituents greater confidence, and more importantly, relief that the AKP is no longer the sole contender for Turkey’s progressive and innovative political party slot.
What is Happening in Turkey and Why?
In spite of the public disclosure of widespread graft allegations that were copiously documented through illegally attained tapes, the ruling Justice and Development Party (hereafter AKP) managed to maintain its political dominance after the 31 March 2014 elections. This came as a dispiriting shock to more than half of Turkey’s population opposing AKP. How could people vote for a party that had so evidently lost its moral compass, aggressed upon any opposition, closed down the social media and clearly violated citizens’ rights? I too have been thinking about this question and would like to share my thoughts, regarding AKP’s success, the opposition’s current failure, and the future course of Turkey.
In the 1990s, my colleague Yılmaz Esmer and I conducted a survey in Istanbul and Konya on the rise of the Islamist movement in Turkey. Two results struck us in particular. One was formal: Islamists did not at all feel marginalized by the militantly secular state and its governments, demonstrating they were ready to become politically active. The other result was more informal: we wanted to compare our results with the research conducted by political parties. Visits to all party headquarters in Istanbul revealed that among them, only a single party periodically and systematically conducted surveys: the Welfare Party (hereafter RP), that is, the predecessor of the AKP. And this is probably AKP’s most significant asset: it continuously monitors the pulse of the populace, and does so in accordance with the latest technology. And it is no accident that RP and later AKP had the best voter records in the country that they could then utilize to get out the vote. Many AKP researchers were educated and trained in the United States how to develop campaign strategies, reach the electorate, and raise funds.