THE POLITICAL CRISIS IN TURKEY DEEPENS
BEFORE THE LOCAL ELECTIONS

statement by the Communist Party of Turkey

The AKP has been the ruling party of Turkey for the last 11 years. While the AKP represents the interests of the capitalist class and its main policies are shaped according to these interests and its collaboration with imperialism as any previous governments, the AKP’s reactionary policies blended with a pro-market and pro-imperialist Islamism. It is important to note that the AKP as a ruling party holds a special place in the Republic’s history. The AKP had the mission of officially transforming the secular Kemalist Republic of 1923 into a new Islamist, neoliberal one. Full privatization of public resources, an all-out attack on the working class with cutthroat neoliberal policies on the economic front, full compliance with the dictates of the US imperialism and subservience to its interests in the region on the foreign policy front were the defining attributes of this new Republic. Backed by the international capital, the AKP was able to sustain the economy, keeping the effects of the global economic crisis to a minimum possible.

Promoted to a “strategic ally” in the “Greater Middle East Project” by the US administration, the AKP soon deployed a dramatic shift in its foreign policies. Branded as Neo-Ottomanism, the AKP’s foreign policy was dominated by a Sunni neo-Ottoman vision that considered it a natural and historical right for Turkey to dominate southern borders. As part of this new aggressive policy and in line with the interests of US in the region, the AKP started acting more boldly towards the Syrian crisis. Throughout the crisis, the AKP has provided shelter, funding and arms to the terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government.

The coalition of AKP and the Gülen movement

On the domestic front, the AKP consolidated many different religious sects and organizations into a coalition of allies. There is one particular ally that stands out among these religious communities that has played a major role in the transformation of the Republic: the Gülen movement. The movement is known for thousands of religious and schools it runs over 140 countries including Russia and former Soviet republics in the Central Asia. It also has substantial investments in media, finance, and for–profit health clinics. Led by Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic preacher who resides in the USA, the movement allegedly receives massive amounts of funding from the CIA. Some of the movement’s schools in Russia were closed down because they were reportedly CIA fronts.

With its religious organizing within the ranks of the critical institutions of the Republic, the Gülen movement played an instrumental role in the effort to shape the new Republic.

The transformation of the Kemalist Republic into an Islamist, neoliberal one As the AKP and its coalition of allies headed by the Gülen Movement were gaining a strong hold in the state mechanism, they also started a ruthless liquidation of the Kemalist elements from the state. In the new regime, after gaining control of almost all universities, the AKP coalition moved on to the judiciary with the Gülen movement given control over most of the judiciary as well as the police force. In order to pacify the military, which had been active in the political scene up until then, the AKP initiated a number of public trials like Ergenekon and Balyoz. Promoted as a democratic effort to cleanse the “deep state”, these trials not only helped the AKP in locking up a lot of military top brass, who could be potential problems for the new regime, but it was also a very convenient tool for the AKP to silence and suppress all forms of opposition. Sentenced to jail on fabricated evidences and incongruous indictments, the majority of the defendants sentenced were journalists, writers, lawyers and military officers with a broad range of ideologies including secularists, Kemalists, socialists and communists.

The collapse of the alliance between the AKP and the Gülen Movement

In the recent year, however, the AKP has lost favor within the ranks of the US and European imperialism in terms of its credibility and reliability as a sustainable government. An account of the reasons behind the decline of the AKP should emphasize the role of two failures: The first was the total collapse of the AKP's foreign policy in Syria and the friction over whether to support elements of the Syrian opposition directly linked to al-Qaida.

The second failure was the government's inability to control the incidents that led to the people's uprising in June against its ever-expanding oppression and authoritarian rule at home, the religionizing of the social life. Millions were out on the streets demanding the resignation of the government. It became obvious to everyone, including the US ruling class that AKP would have great difficulty in ruling the country without creating deeper crisis. The only force that kept the government going was the single-handed and fascistic leadership of Erdogan.

Following these two failures of the AKP government, the alliance between the AKP and the Gülen movement, which despite various minor turbulences and crisis had been sustained successfully for years, has also started to fall apart.

December 17: The Graft Probe against the AKP led by the Gülen Movement

On December 17th, steered by the US administration, the “corruption and bribery” probe was unleashed on the AKP by the prosecutors, judges and police affiliated with the Gülen movement. In order to thwart the probe, the AKP quickly responded by replacing the pro-Gülen prosecutors and police chiefs by ones loyal to Erdogan and stalled the judiciary process in order to cover up the corruption. The regulations of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice were changed forcing security forces to inform their seniors of their actions at all times so that AKP would not be caught off-guard the next time. The State Council later rejected this regulation since it was in violation of the constitutional principle of the “separation of powers”.

The second wave of the probe operation was initiated in Izmir on January 7 but the operation was stalled after the members of the police involved in the operation were removed from the case. According to claims, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan was among the list of names, who would have been detained in the second wave for interrogation on corruption charges. In order to gain full control of the judiciary, AKP has now a pending measure to have the “Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors”, HSYK, to become subject to the oversight of the Justice Minister. HSYK is the body responsible for appointing judges. It has 27 members. The opposition and the HSYK both have declared this bill to be unconstitutional since it would completely eliminate the separation of powers between the government and judiciary. EU officials have also warned the government against passing such a measure, but it doesn’t look like Erdogan will be backing down.

The AKP’s trucks transferring arms to Syria

On January 1st 2014, in the southern province Hatay, acting on a tip, the Turkish gendarmerie intercepted a truck allegedly carrying weapons and ammunitions to Syria. According to the reports, the gendarmerie found out that there were MIT (Turkish National Intelligence Organization) officers on board the truck. Despite the search warrant issued by the public prosecutor at the scene, the search had to be halted upon receiving written orders by AKP’s Hatay governor. It was claimed that the truck had been hired by the IHH (Humanitarian Relief Foundation). IHH, under AKP’s supervision, is accused of using the money gathered from the public under the pretext of humanitarian relief to send supplies to Al-Qaeda groups in Syria.

The prosecution did not have any authority to issue a search warrant for the truck since the search would require special permission from the prime ministry. The PM has deliberately twisted the application of the MIT law in this incident in order to cover up the unlawful act of transferring arms to terrorists groups fighting in Syria. The law in question dictates that PM’s permission is required for a criminal proceeding to be initiated on MIT personnel suspected of illegal activity but gathering of evidence to prove illegal activity is not subject to PM’s permission.

On January 14th, Turkish police conducted a simultaneous operation in six provinces against Al- Qaeda. A local branch of the IHH in Kilis was also raided. At least five people with alleged links to al-Qaeda, including an IHH employee were detained. Within hours of the operation, the government dismissed two police chiefs, who were among the teams that carried out the operation. On November 7th of last year, a similar truck allegedly hired by the IHH with a cargo of rocket heads, bazookas, missiles, bombs and guns had been seized by the police in the southern province of Adana near the Syrian border.

The incidents incited a debate in Turkey since the act of transferring arms to a group of armed gangs fighting in a neighbor country is essentially a declaration of war against that country. This is not only a clear violation of the 92nd article of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey which states that the authority to declare war only belongs to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey but it could also qualify as a “War Crime” and “Crimes against humanity” based on previous UN and International Criminal Court rulings.

New options considered by the US

There is a very real and deep crisis of governance and Erdogan’s AKP does not have control of all the state mechanism anymore. By a major reshuffling in the judiciary and the police force, AKP has attempted to get back the control of these two institutions. Yet in the pipeline, there are probably more deadly blows, similar to the graft probe the recent truck incident, waiting to be inflicted by the “parallel state”, i.e. the Gülen movement as Erdogan refers to it now.

In the eyes of imperialism, it can also be said that it is over for Erdogan, if not for all of AKP cadres. Led by the US, the imperialist countries are after new formulas, which, while replacing AKP, would still allow the continuation of the main characteristics of the AKP regime. A potential option considered is the combination of CHP, the main opposition party and the Gülen movement. It is known that Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, has recently conducted negotiations with the associations related to the Gülen movement. This is also the reason why there is a clear recent shift to the right by CHP. This can be seen from the choice of CHP mayor candidates in the upcoming local elections. Istanbul candidate is known to have strong ties with the Fethullah movement, the Ankara candidate is a former MHP member (MHP is the nationalist right wing party) and the candidate for Antakya is the former AKP mayor whom AKP has chosen not to nominate. It can be said that the upcoming local elections will be a good testing ground for the imperialists to put to test potential new actors for the future government of Turkey.

The Kurdish movement on the other hand has to wait for the final victor of the fight between the AKP and the Gülen movement to take any clear positions, a tough wait-and-see mode. In the meantime, they cannot really burn bridges with Erdogan. At first they took a position that implicitly defending the AKP against the Gülen movement, since the collapse of the AKP government would mean the end of the so-called Kurdish peace process led by Erdogan. However, as the Kurdish movement has been witnessing the endurance and cruelty of the fight, they have adopted a more wary rhetoric lately.

International Bureau of TKP Communist Party of Turkey