Turkish nationalism loses at polls—Kurdish nationalism wins?

In the July 22 ballot, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured the largest share of votes in a Turkish election since 1965, in a contest which saw heated controversy about the country’s future as a secular republic. His Justice and Development (AK) party—its pro-capitalist brand of political Islam sometimes dubbed “Islamic Calvinism“—captured constituencies across Turkey, leaving only isolated pockets to the secular nationalist parties. “The divide between the AK Party and its secularist-nationalist opponents has emerged as one of the most important fault lines in Turkish politics,” writes Turkey’s Zaman.

Yet most US media (e.g. Bloomberg) have downplayed this fundamental dispute, instead emphasizing Erdogan’s supposed “mandate to bring the nation closer to the European Union and weaken the political influence of the military.” A 2002 BBC profile reminds us that when the AK first swept to power that year, Erdogan was barred from becoming prime minister due to his 1998 conviction for inciting religious hatred. A fast change in the law cleared the way for him to run for parliament, and within days of his victory he was named prime minister. The 1998 case concerned his public reading of an Islamic poem including the line: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…” (He was sentenced to 10 months, but was freed after four.) Moreover, as the once-hegemonic power of Turkish nationalism wanes, the once-forbidden force of Kurdish nationalism grows. In another critical angle largely overlooked in the US media, the London Times notes that the election also saw Kurdish nationalist parties winning seats in the Turkish parliament, “complicating Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s landslide election victory.”

An AP account notes the return of the Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) to Turkey’s parliament in general elections for the first time in more than a decade, winning 23 seats in the 550-seat body. Several Kurdish lawmakers were ousted from parliament in 1994 for having ties to PKK guerillas—and one of them, Leyla Zana, urged Turkey last week to accept a federal structure and declare the Kurdish-dominated southeast as “Kurdistan.” After her speech, Kurds stoned the office of a hardline nationalist party whose chairman has called for imprisoned PKK leader Ocalan to be hanged. Zana, who served more than a decade in prison for having ties to PKK, campaigned for the DTP but was not allowed to run for parliament again herself because of her criminal record. The day before the election, Prosecutor Mustafa Kucuk filed charges of separatism against Zana for her remarks.

AK Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul ruled out cooperation with Kurdish lawmakers in parliament, unless they denounce the PKK as a terrorist organization. Kurdish politicians have refrained from doing so.

Meanwhile, a PKK commander announced on the day of the elections from neighboring Iraq that he expects the Turkish military to launch an offensive across the border in the coming days. Murat Karayilan said his fighters were prepared to resist the incursion.

See our last post on Turkey and the struggle for Kurdistan.

  1. The elections in Turkey: Execution phase of Project Lebanization
    The elections in Turkey : Execution phase of Project Lebanization

    If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates”as happened in Lebanon”into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.” Bernard Lewis

    Bernard Lewis created the term “Lebanization”, which translated in to keeping a country divided on ethnic, sectarian or whatever exploitable differences there may be within that given country, in order to control and conquer.

    Who are the real winners of this election?

    Imagine a country where over ninety percent of population is against the US neo-con policy and practices in the Middle East and, in the world. A country over seventy percent of the population believe in secularism yet, a religious party wins the elections with a margin of forty six percent. A religious party whose leader’s recorded view is “either you are religious or secular, one or the other, one can not be both”. A religious party which is so willing, and ready to cooperate with the US neo-con policies at any cost. A party much closer to US neo-cons than to EU.

    While the religious AKP gets forty six percent of the electoral vote, so called “secular” CHP with twenty percent of the electoral vote loses fifty five seats. CHP, a party that openly banned any anti-US policy and practices to its members. .

    There is a third “winner” party, MHP, which is well known with its member’s participation in NATO’s infamous “left behind” or, “Gladio” death squads. A party whose service to US during the Cold War era can not be forgotten.

    These three parties, all pro-US, all pro EU, have five hundred twenty three seats of the total five hundred fifty seats of the parliament. There are twenty seven more seats which will be occupied by “independents”, majority of whom are made up of those in competition with the Northern Iraq Kurds in serving the US policies of Middle East.

    The picture is of a parliament ready and willing to cooperate with the Neo-cons of USA in their Middle East Policy, policy of Lebanization of all the Middle East Countries. Clearly it is a win not for the people of Turkey but for the neo-cons.

    A look at the recent history

    Let’s start with a previously succeeded project from which this policy and its name derived.
    Lebanon, a country in which Muslims and Christians lived together for centuries yet with the execution of `project` country has become a country without a real centralized power, where feuding sects, tribes, regions, interest groups fight with one another. A country where it’s military remains impartial to foreign military attacks and invasion of her land, yet, same military acts viciously against her own people after a provocation.

    There was a country in central Asia, a Muslim yet secular country. Religious fanaticism and fanatics have been supported, armed, trained in and by the US and European Allies. Country was provoked in to a war, and secularism replaced with the US backed religious government, eliminating any and all the democratic rights the people enjoyed. With the Collapse of Soviet Union, US and its European allies, after numerous provocations by the use of the same people they trained, declared war on their ex-puppets in order to justify their new world order policy. They replaced their fanatic religious puppets with religious-corporate puppets leaving the country in a state of an ongoing war and ongoing chaos.

    There was a country in Middle East, fiercely secular, economically stable yet, her leaders have made the mistake of aligning themselves with the US and its European allies. Country was provoked in to a war with her neighbor, ethnic and sectarian divisions supported…at the end, similar to one in Central Asia, the ex-puppets were declared to be enemies and toppled. They replaced the dictatorial-secular-puppets with religious-corporate puppets leaving the country in a state of ongoing war and ongoing chaos.

    All these have been done in the name of “democracy”, “freedom”, prosperity” and under the justification of “fight against the religious fanaticism” by those who have been supporting the religious and otherwise dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan …..

    It is interesting to see that US and its European allies have been supporting the religious fanatics in Turkey on one side, and supporting the “secularism outcry” on the other.

    It is well known that one of the strongest religious cult supports this elected anti-secular party, has its billionaire leader, and quite large number of its followers residing (and possibly being trained) in the US and all over Europe.

    Looking at such recent history and the current situation in Middle East, the election results in Turkey may well be the indication of “the execution phase of the Lebanization Project” of Turkey. Question is, will this “phase” be a simultaneous integrated part of “Lebanization of Iran” or another step to one or to other. Simply put it; will it (Lebanization) be Turkey or Iran first, or both at the same time?

    “Execution phase” of such political projects usually carries within the practices of “sensational provocations”. In this sense, the results of the elections may, at the same time, well be the indication of “cured- foundation “, meaning: “set to go” ……

    Only the secularist culture, recent historical experience, and “common sense” of people from involved countries may prevent such ‘sensational provocations’ to achieve its goal of hate and war mongering. Let’s hope people have drawn lessons from recent such sensational provocations.

    July 25, 2007
    Erdogan A.