Political Observation - The Political Dynamism in Turkey

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Political Observation - The Political Dynamism in Turkey
Turkey’s political milieu has been subjected since 11 November 2020 to a barrage of unprecedented shockwaves, tensions and splits, which by and large have been revolving around the conservative nationalistic discourse and its ideological models, i.e., full secularism and partial secularism, being hijacked and monopolised by the main political parties, namely the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP), due to what the conservative discourse, with its sentimental Islamic and secularist tinge, holds in terms of cranes to lift the parties to power.
It is common knowledge that a host of sheer domestic factors and some foreign factors that have crept in through the political forces affiliated to foreign powers, play a focal role in the tensions and polarisations taking place on the political scene and influencing the Turkish parties’ domestic agendas pertinent to the regime and the constitution.
From this perspective, we can expound the Turkish domestic and foreign political situation while taking into account that some domestic events are not detached from the meddling of the US who has been endeavouring to reshape the regime and bring Turkey back to her stable since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became independent and disrupted some of her agendas in Turkey and the region.
As for the splits that have dealt the major parties a heavy blow and resulted in the emergence of 4 new parties led by prominent figures from the main two parties, their motives are divergent in accordance with the party from which they originated. The decision of Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan to split and establish two opposition parties falls within the attempts to exert pressure on Erdoğan and end his monopoly over the Islamic sentimental discourse and the conservative nationalistic discourse, knowing that Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu split from the AKP amid a tense relationship between Erdoğan and America and at the height of America’s pressure on Turkey.
Ahmet Davutoğlu conveyed America’s demands to Bashar Assad at the beginning of the “Syrian revolution”, whereas Ali Babacan studied and worked in the US. It is also common knowledge that both men oppose Erdoğan in his domestic and foreign policies, which clash with US policy.

As for the split within the CHP, its plane is merely domestic. The party suffered widespread resignations which included parliamentarians and prominent figures. This could tear apart the CHP, which is deemed as the main rival of the ruling AKP, and undermine its chances of toppling Erdoğan and the AKP from power in the coming elections after the successes it had achieved in the latest mayoral elections, especially the snatching of Istanbul’s municipality, the stronghold of the AKP, at the hands of Ekrem İmamoğlu.
A month after three CHP parliamentarians had announced their resignation, namely Hüseyin Avni Aksoy, MP for the northern province of Karabük, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, MP for the western province of Izmir and Özcan Özer, MP for the north-western province of Yalova, prominent CHP leader Muharrem İnce announced his resignation during a press conference on 8 February from the party led by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. It was the biggest wave of resignations the party has faced for almost 12 years. This was a heavy blow to the US-affiliated CHP party. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu justified his resignation by the ideological deviations and deep crises the party had been experiencing, in addition to the rifts between its popular base and the administration. “I am now parting company with those who solicit democracy from the US and those who do not follow the path of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,” he said, adding “I am parting company with the fake CHP, and with those who protect the Gülen organisation, and those who do not understand the meaning of the Blue Homeland, as well as those who could not stomach Turkey’s support of Azerbaijan”. This indicates the presence of deep rifts between the various wings of the party, which is linked to the widespread state of polarisation that has swept the entire Turkish political milieu, including the AKP from which Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu resigned. It is also common knowledge that the fever which has stricken the Turkish political milieu has intensified since the change of guard in the US administration and in light of Joe Biden’s hostile stance towards Erdoğan and his huge support for the Kurds. And this explains the alliance that has been concluded between the CHP and the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the internal rift within the CHP and the scathing attack of Muharrem İnce who left the party and harnessed the conservative secularist nationalist discourse to attract support for himself. This is why Muharrem İnce is banking on the US stance towards Erdoğan and the damage Kemal Kilicdaroglu inflicted on the principles of the CHP in response to America’s demands on the Kurdish issue, to launch his political venture to achieve his leadership aspirations separately from the CHP whose alliance with the HDP and flirting with the religious sentiments of the Turkish people constitute, in his opinion, a deviation from the Kemalist principles of the party and the nationalist populist discourse. He is hoping that the US pressure on Erdoğan, such as through the statement of former chief of staff Mehmet İlker Başbuğ “had Adnan Menderes called for early elections, he would not have been ousted [and executed]”, and the report of the US Rand Corporation claiming that a fresh military coup in Turkey could not be ruled out, in addition to the rumours spread by Ahmet Davutoğlu suggesting that a coup against Erdoğan was in the offing and that his supporters were about to abandon ship, and what will follow ahead of the coming elections, will secure a place for him on the political scene, hoping that the political manoeuvre of Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan to establish an alliance with Saadet Party (aka Felicity Party) against the AKP will damage the popularity and popular base of the alliance of the nationalist movement and the AKP to his own advantage.
This is why Erdoğan visited the grave of former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, and visited the Chairman of the Felicity Party High Advisory Board, Oğuzhan Asiltürk, at his home in the hope of winning him over and disrupting Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan’s attempts to forge further alliances against him.
It is also in this context that Erdoğan visited his ally, chairman Devlet Bahçeli of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), at his home in order to strengthen their alliance following Bahçeli’s statement of “Once the HDP is shut down and our call is answered, we will do what we have to do.” Amidst this dynamism, Erdoğan’s team fanned the flames of discontent when they launched a scathing attack on the CHP with the aim of deepening its divisions and demanded from its members to explain why their delegate, Özgan, had a meeting with the CIA and the Pentagon on the eve of the failed 2016 coup. The story caused an uproar and amassed further pressure on the CHP and its leaders. Erdoğan has also been instrumental in adding fuel to the political tussle and scattering the standpoints of the opposition by proposing a constitutional amendment to consolidate the presidential system which the CHP and its allies, especially the “Good Party”, have called to be repealed and revert to a parliamentarian system.

The unfolding events of the Turkish political scene could be summed up in a host of gambles and political investments from all stakeholders amongst the new regional and international facts, and in preparing for the upcoming elections according to personal and international agendas. A vivid example of this is the ongoing tussle that erupted at Bosphorus University, the stronghold of the secularists and the first university America founded in the Islamic world before the collapse of the Ottoman Khilafah, after Erdoğan appointed a new president from the conservative movement.

Erdoğan has been endeavouring to consolidate his political gains by staging a host of manoeuvres and tactical withdrawals in foreign policy such as the issue of the Russian S400 defence system, and by exploiting the terrorist acts carried out by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to amass support for his policies and standpoints while shoring up his popularity. He has also been attempting to bulwark his approach and policies by updating the constitution, consolidating the presidential system, circumventing his opponents’ call for a parliamentary system and dividing their ranks with the help of the Turkish intelligence services, which is most likely behind the Kemalists’ efforts to split the CHP, and via his flagrant calls for rebellion against CHP president Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu who has mortgaged the thoughts and the progression of his party to America’s domestic and foreign plans in Turkey. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had previously confirmed this when he accused Erdoğan and his men and intelligence cronies of driving a wedge between the opposition parties. Meanwhile, the opposition parties for their part have been attempting to rattle Erdoğan’s cage and to forge further alliances against him by taking advantage of the American trend towards regional issues in disrupting Turkey’s achievements from which Erdoğan derives his popularity.
9 Rajab 1442h
21 February 2021