Turkey’s ‘Kurdish Process’ is mired in leader cult

Less than three months left to the elections, the overall political and social picture of Asia Minor leaves hard traces of havoc. The series of events, one after another so irrational that they lost the effect of baffling the observer, altogether show that uncertainties rule over Turkey, contradicting the simple fact that the country is ruled by a single majority government.

The Cabinet meetings enforced to take place in the huge palace have now become major measures to indicate how much more power the current prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, has lost.

Needless to conclude that the yo-yoing of Hakan Fidan from his key post as the director of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and back, under legally disputable circumstances, should come as a very serious blow to Davutoğlu, let alone to Fidan himself.

Both gentlemen should presumably be aware of the damage caused to their reputation, not at home so much, perhaps, but internationally.

Fidan first being nominated as a deputy for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and now inserted back will only cement the skeptics’ perception that Turkey’s journey advances to a model of a “mukhabarat state.”

As for Davutoğlu, it now looks like a story of a politician whose ordeal is defined by his struggle to remain relevant in the future of the AKP, as someone carrying some weight. Alas.

The latest episode boosts the currently popular joke in Ankara’s political circles, that “Davutoğlu is the prime example of the hidden unemployment in Turkey.” Nasty, that one, but as days go by, there will be points to it.

The unknown in capital letters, meanwhile, is about what on earth is going on in the umpteenth round of “negotiation on negotiations,” which the current state of the Kurdish Peace Process is to be called. In columns that strongly smell of spin, pro-government pundits harden their attempts to persuade the electorate that the laying down of arms by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is somehow imminent; that Abdullah Öcalan is to declare during Newroz celebrations in about 10 days that the end of the armed struggle is here.

The false euphoria reaches such levels in some flunky media outlets that the utterance of even the slightest doubt about the state of the talks between the PKK and the government is instantly declared war-mongering at best, or treason, period.

The poor public of Turkey may have been left wondering (but of course, clearly at ease that no more killings occur due to violence stemming from the ethnic conflict) and the spin doctors may give their best to open a gap between Öcalan and the military wing of the PKK, using old templates from elsewhere in the world, but as days go by, the most sobering remarks come from the Kandil bases of the PKK. In the past 15 days, at least three top figures of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) came out with identical remarks:

There will be no such things as laying down arms or putting an end to armed struggle for good as of now, they repeat. What can be expected is, if we are to take the Kandil statements by the letter, only a stronger emphasis on an extended cease-fire. The most important part of the remarks can be as summarized:

Not much will happen before the elections, so don’t jump the gun.

What about the elections, then? With the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) still stuck in a dusty, outdated vision of republicanism and the minor opposition, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), consistent in its anachronistic nationalism, the ground is open for the dynamics of the Islamist AKP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). What feeds the unknown into new heights is the apparent volatility one sees among the AKP vote, and HDP vote, which is at a hair’s breath around the 10-percent threshold.

Two pollsters (SONAR and Gezici) so far have “dared” to show AKP at the critical 40 percent — and below — levels. If the HDP gets as much a vote as it says it will (about 12 percent or more), the AKP, both pollsters indicate, may no longer have an overall majority. But, if the HDP fails to pass the threshold, Turkey will advance closer to a one-party state, with the horrible risk of breaking apart.

Put this even simpler: The current dynamics are between the wills of two men, who one way or another struggle for their own political future: Erdoğan and Öcalan. Turkey’s fate is stuck in between.

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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