20 august 2017

Central Asia news

Vote or die: Who benefits from blasts in Turkey

16.10.2015 10:35 msk

Ilshat Sayetov

Politics Turkey, Republic of

Photo by Reuters

The intense explosions that rocked Ankara on October 10 caused the deaths of some 100 individuals and wounds of scores. A rally for peace organised by trade unions and leftist organisations, including Kurdish ones, ended in a bloody mess. The Turkish authorities, undoubtedly, will attempt to lay the blame squarely on the Kurds and IS (a so-called “Islamic State”). But doing so will be not be easy, since there is no single compelling proof for the claim. The IS is maintaining de-facto neutrality with Turkey and able to sell oil thanks to Turkey only. Further, Turkey is one of the major corridors through which the IS obtains weapons and new recruits as cannon fodder. All that the IS was able to come up with was “We are happy the communists got blown up.”

The Workers Party of Kurdistan (WPK), designated as terrorist organisation, obviously would not explode its own Kurds and leftists; furthermore, the party has recently announced temporarily halting terrorists acts. One could perhaps take conspiracies at face value and say WPK has deliberately killed Kurds in Ankara; however, answering to such questions as “why” and “what for” would prove impossible.

Independent experts have no doubt that the explosions in question are “timed” with the upcoming unscheduled November 1 parliamentary elections in mind, whoever the masterminds and executors might be. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) were very unhappy with the outcomes of elections on June 7 and have then applied every effort to expedite new elections. That said, the only chance they have to secure the majority of the seats is preventing the pro-Kurdish Democratic Party of People (DPP) from passing the 10% threshold. As I wrote in my previous piece the next day after the June elections, the authorities could attempt demonising the DPP and [cause] provocations to achieve this goal. That is exactly what happened: terrorist acts shook Turkish cities, Kurdish towns and cities became military theatres; and harsh anti-Kurd debates among politicians proliferated. None of the parties in the parliament, save the AKP, has even slightest benefits from “rocking the boat”—then current seat layout in the parliament was the best in 13 years.

Involving themselves into the course of events by using such dirty methods is a traditional practice of certain groups inside the Turkish political establishment over the last several decades. Many a case were investigated to establish the role of “a state within the state” in various assassinations and terrorist acts and coup d’états along with tens of books allegedly providing proofs of such activities published in the country.

Allow me to provide just one example. An investigation into the Congress of Kurdish Communities identified two high-ranking terrorists, who turned out to be agents of the National Intelligence Organisation (NIO). The finding prompted the investigating prosecutor to summon NIO Chief Hakan Fidan for questioning in 2011. However, President Erdogan and his supporters adopted a new law overnight, which helped Fidan avoid questioning. The links between the NIO, which was very recently bestowed a wide range of new powers, and the terrorist WPK are so close that it is no longer possible to definitively identify leaders, their whereabouts and subordinates. Meanwhile, Hakan Fidan, as President Erdogan recently acknowledged, is the “black box” of his secrets.

One such secret was talks between the Turkish intelligence and the Kurdish terrorists in Oslo, Norway, in 2009—the topic and outcomes of these talks are still undisclosed in entirety. However, most apparently, the Turkish intelligencers were haggling for a super-presidential regime for Erdogan in exchange for Kurdish autonomy under the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan or his appointees.

Erdogan himself was quite open, if desperate, when he asked the voters ahead of the elections: “Give me 400 [parliamentary] seats and let this matter resolve peacefully.” As the election results show, the voters did not grant the requested 400, but 259, and the matter took a different turn. The attempt to turn Turkey into a super-presidential republic completely and irreversibly failed on June 7, while the Kurds have triumphantly joined the parliament under the unpronounced slogan “We will not let you become a super-president!” Burhan Kuzu, an odious AKP member, has then made an ominous statement: “People voted for chaos.” The AKP policies aimed at resolving the “Kurdish issue” took a 180-degree turn: Provocations, assassinations and explosions ensued, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 700 individuals in Turkey and thus marked one of the most terrifying periods in the country’s entire history. The Turkish president was quite cynical when commenting on the situation: “The recent increase in terrorist violence is the result [that surfaced after] the voters did not vote for one party to have a sufficient number of seats in the parliament [so it could] change the Constitution and grant the president absolute power.” Professor Ahmet Akgunduz, an Erdogan supporter, put a proverbial colon after the unfolding events the day after the explosions in Ankara. Rector Akgunduz stated, “If you want to stop [further] bloodshed, vote for the [incumbent] authorities.”

On the one hand, it is clear that the electorate is being openly blackmailed; on the other hand, the events are unfolding the way I described they would a month ago. Having brought the situation to its tensest conditions, President Erdogan can declare the state of emergency—he would be happy with [thus paralysing] three or four Kurd-dominant regions. The state of emergency was partially imposed in several eastern regions, while Van was under martial law for 15 days. Lowering the number of votes for the DPP in these regions would allow the ruling party blocking the Kurds from securing the necessary 10% of votes. Doing so would then pave the way for the AKP to get the majority of seats in the Turkish parliament. This is a very risky game. However, the current Turkish president and his supporters do not have options to choose from and they are “forced into” cheating given the fading popular support they used to enjoy. And the only factor that would bestow the current regime an appearance of legitimacy is outcome of elections. Should the situation remain stable and normal, the voting results would not be very different from those in June, as many polls suggest.

The names of many politicians in the highest echelons of Turkish authorities and their relatives are of interest in several serious criminal investigations. Losing power would mean they investigations would be “unfrozen” and result in subsequent arrests. The interested reader who learned the details of corruption cases dated December 17 and 25, 2013—which were available online—knows that everything is very serious and the body of damning evidence is quite significant. Therefore, preventing judicial proceedings and trials would be almost impossible unless the incumbent authorities create a despotic regime a-la Saddam in Turkey. Indeed, there is a reason why Erdogan sent his son Bilal with the entire family to Italy away from Turkey: Bilal is one of the main suspects in the December 25 case. And the main suspect in the December 17 case—Iranian Reza Zarrab—has fled for Dubai just in case. If the upcoming parliamentary elections are held fairly, despite all the attempts to prevent them from happening, one can expect many private jets take off from the VIP zones in various Turkish airports in the night of November 1.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Turks are taking to streets and striking throughout the country, waving posters with such statements as “We know the killer’s face!” or “The government is the assassin!” If they are “properly” dispersed, as were the Gezi Park demonstrations, then the government could be facing mass protests, which is just what they want to declare the state of emergency even in large cities. Everything is moving in the pre-planned direction so far…

Ilshat Sayetov

Fergana International Information Agency