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Erdoğan drags Turkey into a dangerous path

interview with political analyst Cengiz Aktar

Funeral ceremony of some victims of the suicide bomb in Suruç

Funeral ceremony of some victims of the suicide bomb in Suruç gettyimages / Anadolu Agency

"No steps back will be taken in our fight against terrorism, this is a process and it will continue with the same determination." With these words President Tayyip Erdoğan made clear his intention to go on with the vast anti-terror operations against suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A campaign launched after the July 20 suicide bombing in Suruç, that killed 32 people and left other 100 injured among the young socialists and aid volunteers, which were preparing a summer expedition to help rebuild Kobane, across the Syrian border. The Suruç massacre reignited the tensions between the Turkish state and the PKK, with the latter stepping up attacks on police and soldiers, while Turkish jets have targeted the Kurdish group’s camps and its militants have been arrested by anti-terror units. The protests held across the country against the ISIL and the government policy on Syria have been dispersed with water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas. Also internet and social media are facing restrictions in Turkey: a Criminal Court of Peace in Ankara has approved a decision by the country’s government-controlled internet watchdog to block 96 Kurdish and left wing news websites and 23 Twitter accounts on the grounds of making terrorist propaganda. Among the blocked websites there are Rudaw, BasNews, DİHA, ANHA, daily Özgür Gündem, Yüksekova Haber, Sendika.Org and RojNews.
Many argue that the aggressive strategy launched by Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) is motivated by election calculations, after the success of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) at the June 7 vote stopped the AKP from getting a parliamentary majority. Erdoğan’s goal would be to isolate the HDP and undermine its position in the next early elections.
HDP's leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, strongly reacted and accused AKP of “dragging Turkey step-by-step into a civil war, regional war” to regain its power to rule alone in the next elections, adding his party will not allow this.

For a comment on the possible options for HDP and the future of the Kurdish peace process, Gariwo interviewed Cengiz Aktar - Turkish political analyst, Senior Scholar at Istanbul Policy Center, expert in minorities issues and supporter of the Turkish-Armenian dialogue, former director at the United Nations for 22 years, writer and columnist at Al-Jazeera network, Today’s Zaman and Taraf dailies, Hrant Dink Foundation's Board member.

Is HDP isolated in this effort to stand AKP's attack or might it find an ally in CHP or among other institutions?

In coalition talks with the AKP and yet very eager to share power with AKP, CHP will never dare to corner its future partner. Despite the fact that it is the only constituency which could support HDP and pro-peace civilian forces against the dangerous path Turkey was dragged in by President Erdoğan.

Erdoğan has put an end to the Kurdish peace process, saying “It is not possible to carry on the peace process with those who target our national unity and brotherhood”. So has this long lasting negotiation definitely failed?

That was never a peace process in the scholarly or classical understanding of the concept anyhow. It was simply a ceasefire which is no more despite declarations to the contrary. HDP as an elected and legitimate part of the Kurdish political movement will find itself in an increasingly difficult position vis-à-vis the more radical segments of the movement.

Do you believe Western allies will agree to acknowledge Turkey’s fight against the PKK as part of “the struggle against terrorism in the region”?

It is highly dubious that the amalgamation between PKK/PYD and ISIL that AKP rulers are trying to sell, as two terrorist organizations will be bought by Western public opinions. Besides Iranians Kurds are the sole meaningful ground force to fight ISIL and the West won’t normally betray them; the consequences of such betrayal look deadly to all. 

by Viviana Vestrucci

29 July 2015

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