, 50 tweets, 8 min read
1- There is a very important point which is central to everything I am saying and I want every Kurd, Turk and other audiences understand: The world has no problem with Turkey, they have a problem with Erdogan (a version of Erdogan more accurately). What does this mean?
2- Turkey which was built by destroying Ottoman caliphate was not just a country, it was also a mechanism to make sure another Ottoman style model does not arise. Kemalism as a state ideology was the means to carry out this mission.
3- Kemalism was built on 3 pillars: a- Reversing the multi-cultural-multi-ethnic Ottoman model by equating Turkish citizenship to being Turk. B-Imposing secularism to prevent pan-ummah thinking & C-neutrality in foreign policy except for protecting Turkey’s borders.
4- Kemalism was not only a cultural and ideological departure from past. It was also a psychological barrier from Middle East. Turkey was isolated from its ‘Muslim depth’ surrounding it. ‘Ummah’ was redefined to mean the Turkish nations near and far.
5- Kemalist Turkey was a peaceful touristic destination with an army that had to periodically intervene to restore ‘secular order’ and oppress Kurds to make sure ‘territorial integrity’ was maintained. Such a Turkey was an asset to NATO due to its geopolitical location.
6- Ataturk’s ‘Yurtta sulh cihanda’s sulh’ (Peace home and abroad) meant the assimilation of Kurds at home and dealing with an iron fist with any separatist movement while keeping largely neutral in Middle East’s crisis especially on issue such as Palestine.
7- The West had no problem with Turkey oppressing the Kurdish minority or the army’s frequent interventions. The only problem between Turkey-West/NATO was the Cyprus issue. But even that did not hurt the relations with Turkey beyond reparation.
8- The ‘Isolated Turkey’ was not only an asset to NATO but also the MENA dictatorships. They were afraid of Khomeini for exporting the Islamist revolution but Turkey’s democracy was not for export. None in Turkey had such an agenda. Everyone was happy with Antalya beaches.
9- But the relative democratic opening after CHP’s one party rule had allowed the growth of Milli Gorus, a centre right conservative movement with a mixture of nationalist and Islamic slogans. Milli Gorus proved to carry with it the seed of Turkey’s conflict with the West.
10- Milli Gorus was mostly in the sidelines. It was always a part of larger coalitions. It was also banned frequently and reappeared under different names. But then came Refah Partisi led by Milli Gorus historical leader Necmettin Erbakan. And what was feared, happened.
11- Refah’s star started to rise in the 1990s. Kemalism was still the state idoelogy: Kurds and conservatives oppressed. Refah came first in 1994 elections. Erbakan became prime minister of a coalition government while a young Erdogan became mayor of Istanbul.
12- Refah was the head of a shaky coalition of government. But Erbakan embraced an openly anti-Kemalist rhetoric. He called for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue based on Islam and called for an Islamic alliance. His first visits were to Iran, Libya and Saudi.
13- Erbakan’s increasingly Islamist rhetoric made him an easy target for the strong Turkish Kemalist state institutions. Turkey’s secular media started a campaign of vilification against him and he was accused of trying to restore ‘Shariah state’.
14- The media, judiciary and all state apparatus prepared for a soft coup. The state started a heavy handed crackdown on conservatives. And in February 1995, the military forced Erbakan to sign a memorandum which was basically his resignation. Erbakan was removed in a coup.
15- The 1990s Turkey was not a hell for conservative Turks only. It was a hell for Kurds too. Ban on language, cultural rights, Kurdish songs, Kurdish parties continued. Kuridsh MPs were jailed for taking oath in Kurdish. Kurdish singers had to leave country for singing Kurdish.
16- The mutual oppression against Kurds and conservative Turks had created a natural affinity between the two. Refah’s heirs like Fazilet and Saadet continued to to embrace ‘brotherhood in Islam’ as the solution for Kurdish issue. They always came first in the Kurdish areas.
17- Erdogan himself started his national political career in mid 1990s by embarking on a ‘hearing journey’ to the Kurdish provinces. He concluded that Kurds were facing oppression and he promised restoring cultural rights when Refah in power.
18- Erdogan was removed as Istanbul mayor and jailed for reading a poem which was deemed anti-Kemalist state. After his release and following his dispute with Erdogan, he decided to take on a different course and tone down ‘Islamist’ rhetoric.
19- There was a growing sense amongst conservative Turks from Milli Gorus background that the state apparatus, the army and the West will not accept them as long as they embraced Islamic rhetoric. They changed course and founded AK Parti.
20- During these years of state oppression against Kurds and conservatives, the Western support to Turkey was at its highest levels especially in its fight against PKK. Ocalan, PKK leader, was captured in a joint MIt-Mossad-CIA operation and returned to Turkey.
21- The newly founded AKParti embraced a democratic progressive rhetoric. Promised greater reforms and more democratic opening to join EU. Erdogan started his AK Parti journey by a trip to US and EU. AK Parti became the face of progress and hope for Turkey.
22- The economic recession of late 1990s was the opportunity which gave AK Parti power. The ban on Erdogan was removed. He became the prime minister after Gul. He started a series of reforms including removing the emergency state in the Kurdish provinces.
23- Erdogan’s progressive domestic progressive politics continued. But unlike Erbakan he took a different course in foreign policy. He visited Israel and avoided making any ‘Islamist’ remarks. He said that they have removed ‘their milli gorus shirts’.
24- Erdogan made the major Diyarbakir declaration in 2005 in which he admitted that there was a Kurdish issue in Turkey beyond the ‘PKK terror issue’. It followed a period of democratic & cultural opening. Between 2001-2007, AKParti was hailed in Western press as a success.
25- Then in 2007 AK Parti decided to nominate Abdullah Gul for presidency, a symbolic position but important. The secular opposition, judiciary and army joined forces. Amongst other reasons, they said a man with a hijabi wife can’t be in Ataturk’s place.
26- Secular opposition went to streets against Erdogan in what was called ‘Repbublic Rallies’. They were saying the secular state is in danger. Judiciary wanted to close the party and failed. Army’s intervention against AKP made Erdogan stronger and more popular.
27- Erdogan’s progressive polices home continued. But on foreign policy, he started to change tone. The 2008 Gaza war was a turning point. For the first time, Erdogan criticised Israel openly. The new foreign policy proved popular in Turkey & Muslim world.
28- Erdogan’s ‘one minute’ with Israeli president Shimon Perez was the moment the new Erdogan came into stage full force. Across the Muslim world, he became the progressives Muslim leader leading a successful economy and speaking up against oppression.
29- Progressivism home and anti-oppression foreign policy abroad proved electorally popular. This gave him the confidence to take on Kemalism in full force. He reversed anti-conservative and anti-Kurdish policies and also started a peace process with PKK.
30- Erdogan’s new foreign policy was alarming to Arab dictators who saw his popularity amongst their nations alarming. Israel was unhappy and so was the Western political establishment and strong power circles in the US. And then came the Arab Spring.
31- The Arab Spring was the moment when Erdogan decided to scrap Turkey’s Kemalist foreign policy altogether. Erdogan embraced the popular movements& leading Islamists. For a brief moment it looked liked Turkey is going to take lead of a new order. This alarmed many home & abroad
32- Meanwhile domestically, Erdogan’s peace process with PKK was facing strong opposition from the secular, nationalist opposition. But also from his Gulenist allies. He was strong but for first time since 2001 he was facing real opposition.
33- Erdogan invested heavily in the peace process with PKK. He put all his credit on line. He brought back Ocalan into Turkish public life. Ocalan and his cell in Imrali became a new power house. Peace process gave birth to a ceasefire which encouraged Erdogan even more.
34- But suddenly everything went bad for Erdogan. The Arab Spring and the peace process which he has invested in so heavily proved more difficult. While counter Arab Spring current gained momentum and MB failed, peace process at home was too slow.
35- PKK refused to listen to Ocalan’s call for disarmament while AKP was losing the narrative war to the ultra nationalists who were making huge gains taking away from AKP votes. Meanwhile, HDP under Salahaddin Demirtas became Erdogan’s main headache.
36- Erdogan was cornered. He was losing Turkish vote and Kurdish vote at the same rate. His Arab Spring policy had gained him new enemies such as Saudi and UAE. Meanwhile his attempts to gain more powers had given the lobbies/media the chance to portray him as authoritarian.
37- No other modern leader of Turkey or any other country faced what Turkish leadership did. But Erdogan has all these enemies without having made any real changes in the system. The army was still largely against him and the losing electorally was always a threat.
38- Erdogan was overwhelmed. He had no allies home and weak allies abroad. He was about to lose power in Turkey electorally while eyeing expansion abroad. He had an option to change the system Or embrace it. He did the latter.
39- Erdogan decided to ally with the nationalists. But more than that, he decided to adopt nationalism which was his only way for keeping power electorally. He then adopted the ‘there is no Kurdish issue but a PKK terror issue’ cliche which is the Kemalist talking point.
40- Slowly, Erdogan metamorphosed into Bahceli (at discourse level): strong religious nationalist sentiments which are mainly about the survival of the ‘Turkish state’ mixed with a rhetorical affinity with Muslim causes around the world.
41- This Erdogan is no threat to anyone outside Turkey. Unless circumstances change dramatically, Erdogan doesn’t have any intention to do what he did between 2010-2015: Peace process with Kurds or challenging Sykes-Picot borders/order.
42- But for many in the West, Erdogan is still the person with the Islamist expansion image. Moreover, things have changed domestically. The secular opposition has adopted a new rhetoric. AKP is facing splits. Erdogan can lose power electorally any moment.
43- Erdogan’s way out looks like more nationalism and less of it. Neuralising the threat of a Kurdish pro-PKK entity on its borders is something any Turkey’s leader will do. Such an entity represents existential danger to Turkey’s territorial integrity.
44- Erdogan is basically now spending his final moments in power to protect the territorial unity of Turkey’s Sykes-Picot borders and in that he has gained admiration and support from all Turks including his dire Kemalist enemies.
45- The end of the operation with success might give Erdogan the chance to stay in power until 2023. Its failure means his end before the elections. But in both situations, Erdogan as we knew it has ended.
46- Every country in enmity with Turkey today doesn’t oppose Turkey but Erdogan and that is because of his nationalist policies or today’s war against the Kurdish entity, theh do so because of his past and the Islamist spark left in him that might develop again!
47- PKK is lucky that it is fighting Erdogan and say not another figure like Ecevit because they would get zero sympathy. And Kurds are lucky because of not for the anti-Erdogan alliance, they would have been killed in silence. But both Erdogan and Kurds are losers in this fight.
48- There is a chance that Western opposition to Erdogan might lead to a no fly zone which could eventually turn into a self ruled entity but I doubt that the NATO/West will do that against Turkey for theh know Erdogan is going while their Old Turkey friend is coming back.
49- NATO and others including Erdogan’s enemies in Israel and UAE and their lobbies abroad have zero problem with Turkey going into Syria, ending Kurdish-led entity. Turkey is a great ally. But they aren’t happy with Erdogan’s Turkey doing so.
50- In short: The New Erdogan is now for the Old Turkey. But the Old Turkey and its allies home and abroad don’t accept him.

Solution? Kurds and Turks need new leaderships that go beyond Sykes-Picot mentality and do that at any cost. END.
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