The Rocket Strategy of Erdoğan’s Politics

by    /  December 21, 2015  / No comments

Citizen-lawyer Tahir Elçi

Citizen-lawyer and peace activist Tahir Elçi, who was recently killed.

The liberal intellectuals who supported Erdogan’s rise to power are now voicing criticism of his regime, but the criticism may come too late.

How do engineers send a rocket beyond the atmosphere, to the moon? They use support rockets, getting rid of each one when its fuel depletes and it becomes a burden.

Erdoğan (or his team) managed to use all the supportive elements they needed to rise to power, and then discarded them one by one. Knowingly or not, it appears that he (or his team) made use of the same strategy that engineers use to land a rocket on the moon.

He keeps failing on all fronts, except by dangerously imposing his autocracy step by step.

  1. Wor(l)ds in Danger, a column by Tarik Günersel
  2. Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
  3. Humans are about to destroy their spaceship Earth. Some of them are aware of this and they try to change the course of events. Will they succeed? Will more humans be alarmed and do something?
  4. Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
  5. Though I shall focus on the literary scene in Turkey and its problems regarding freedom of expression, I shall not omit the other parts of our planet. Today local is global and vice versa.
  6. Tarik Günersel
  7. Poet, playwright, actor, and director Tarık Günersel worked at Istanbul City Theater as a dramaturg.
  8. His works include Breaths of Infinity (a mosaic of poems) and My 300th Birthday Speech (short stories). His Becoming consists of his aphorisms and various ideas from world wisdom.
  9. His plays include Billennium, Nero and Agrippina, Sociology of Shit, Threat and Virtually Yours. He has written four libretti for the composer Selman Ada: Ali Baba & 40, Blue Dot, Forbidden Love, and Another Planet. His translations into Turkish include works by Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Savyon Liebrecht. His presentation of World Poetry Day to PEN International in 1997 led to its adoption by UNESCO. As the former president of PEN Turkey Center he was elected to PEN International Board in Tokyo from 2010 to 2012. In 2013 he initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the collaboration of several intellectuals from around the planet.

900

This is the number of the court cases Erdoğan has opened against citizens whose comments — whether on Facebook, Twitter, or spoken — he considers profane. Swears directed at him, the president, were met with imprisonment.

At least one third of the voters still seem to favor him. Yet it also seems that no other president in Turkey was hated more.

Murder as censorship

Tahir Elçi, a leading peace-loving Kurdish-Turkish citizen-lawyer, has recently been killed in Diyarbakır. Erdoğan’s AK Party government accuses the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of the murder and impeding the investigation. In turn, the PKK accuses the government. Both sides declare that they demand truth and justice. A basic fact is that Elçi (which means “ambassador” in Turkish) was critical not only of the government but also of the PKK’s use of violence, as the Turkish daily Aydınlık published posthumously.

He has been silenced. Murder is a form of censorship.

Arrested journalists

The murder took place soon after the scandalous but unsurprising arrest of leading secularist journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül.

Can (pronounced as “John” in American English) Dündar is the Editor-in-Chief of the daily Cumhuriyet (pronounced as “Joom-khoo-ree-yet,” meaning “Republic”), and Erdem Gül (whose name means “Virtue Rose”) is the head of the Cumhuriyet Ankara office.

The news of illegal shipments of weapons to ISIS upon a secret order of Erdoğan’s government to MIT (National Intelligence Organization of Turkey) is not new. Two years ago, it had been brought to public attention by the daily Aydınlık (“Enlightment” or “Light”), a pro-Atatürk secularist newspaper led by Dr. Doğu Perinçek. Perinçek, leader of the Vatan (Homeland) Party, was recently released from six years imprisonment following the Ergenekon trials.

The illegally (yet openly, thus almost a de facto civilian coup d’etat) pro-AK Party president Erdoğan threatened Can Dündar six months ago on TV, right after the publication of related photos. He waited until the general election on June 7, the results of which did not please him. So he (or his team) managed to declare an early election on November 1. The pre-election process was far from being fair: The supposedly autonomous state TV-Radio TRT (Turkish Radio and Television) hardly allowed any opposition parties while embracing the ruling party.

The film director Tolga Karaçelik dedicated his award to Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, which was censored by broadcaster ATV during the award ceremony.

Even Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says the two journalists should be tried without arrest. But Erdoğan manages to dictate his will.

Remember?

Erdoğan (or his advisors, who write whatever he reads on TV or at meetings) promised democratization, but in close alliance with the successive pretentious US governments that want to redesign the Middle East.

Erdoğan’s “secret” agenda was known: Turning the secular Republic of Turkey into an Islamist one in harmony with his taste. His imperialistic re-Ottomanization project coincided with the goals of the US government, as outlined in political scientist Samuel Huntington’s book, The Clash of Civilizations. Getting rid of Atatürk’s Westernization program includes secularism — thus gender equality, scientific thinking, philosophy, democratization, fine arts etc. must go.

The Gülen movement…

… has also been a religious-political movement. Two years ago there came a point when the group began to clash with the government. The alliance was replaced by hostility. Since then the pro-Gülen media and his supporters (or agents) in the judiciary and the police force have been under pressure. Each day a number of people are arrested. The former president Abdullah Gül and the former head of the Parliament Bülent Arınç have been left aside by Erdoğan, as they were found to be affiliated with Fethullah Gülen.

It is good to see that there is finally an international judiciary procedure focusing on the Gülen Movement.

Most Turkish secularists…

… have been critical of both Erdoğan and Fethullah Gülen.

Some liberal and even left wing intellectuals overconfidently supported Erdoğan for a decade. Especially since the Gezi Park protests were brutally crushed by Erdoğan, they have finally taken a critical stand.

But it’s too late now. Erdoğan (or his team) used them and then got rid of them. Their late criticism is not helpful enough. They are considered naïve (to use a polite term) to have supported Erdoğan, unaware of the build up of his autocratic rule. Expecting democratization from him was as futile as expecting a cock to lay an egg.

Did Erdoğan’s team initially have what I call “the rocket strategy” in mind? Maybe not. But now the political process we witness in Turkey has become a clear example of the strategy after years of bitter experience. Bitter for freedom lovers, sweet for the insistently imposed new fascist regime that I call Erdocracy. You may also call it Erdo-Fascism.

Downing a Russian plane

Meanwhile, the unnecessary and suspicious downing of a Russian plane by Turkey has been followed by an alarmingly exaggerated reaction from Putin. Have the ties between Russia and Turkey been too good for some Western governments? Did a Western power plan to destroy the growing friendly ties between Russia and Turkey, especially in the areas of economic cooperation and tourism?

France is right to side with Russia in the support against ISIS, siding with the Assad government.

The refugee crisis…

…is primarily the result of the US-led Western governments that have aided the fanatically religious organizations in Syria. What percent of Americans know that Assad’s regime is secularist, and women have semi-equal status under his regime? Assad is right when he says there is hardly any “mild opposition” in his country.

The plot against the Turkish Army

Planned accusations led to five years of imprisonment for several army officers without conviction. The Gülen circle and Erdoğan seem to be jointly primarily responsible for that destructive plot.

Is it a coincidence that most of the imprisoned army officers, including four-star generals, were in favor of Atatürk’s secularist legacy? Atatürk would never have approved an adventure in the Middle East. His motto was “Peace at home, peace in the world.”

Nowadays, an alternative motto is common: “Jihad at home, jihad in the world.” We hear this not only in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Europe and the US.

It is high time the West expressed tribute to Atatürk.

Needless to say, it is also high time for us Kurdish-Turkish secularists (including secular Muslims) to cooperate for democratization. Easier said than done. But what other option do we have?

About the Author

Poet, playwright, actor, and director Tarık Günersel worked at Istanbul City Theater as a dramaturg. His works include Breaths of Infinity (a mosaic of poems) and My 300th Birthday Speech (short stories). His Becoming consists of his aphorisms and various ideas from world wisdom. His plays include Billennium, Nero and Agrippina, Sociology of Shit, Threat and Virtually Yours. He has written four libretti for the composer Selman Ada: Ali Baba & 40, Blue Dot, Forbidden Love, and Another Planet. His translations into Turkish include works by Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Savyon Liebrecht. His presentation of World Poetry Day to PEN International in 1997 led to its adoption by UNESCO. As the former president of PEN Turkey Center he was elected to PEN International Board in Tokyo from 2010 to 2012. In 2013 he initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the collaboration of several intellectuals from around the planet.

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