Category Archives: ΑΚΡ

Τουρκία-Ισραήλ: Η Αναθέρμανση μιας Παγωμένης Συμμαχίας;

Από τη δεκαετία του ’80 οι σχέσεις Τουρκίας-Ισραήλ γνώρισαν σταδιακή αναθέρμανση με έτος σταθμό το 1996, οπότε και υπογράφηκαν οι μεταξύ τους συμφωνίες στρατιωτικής συνεργασίας και εκπαίδευσης. Οι συμφωνίες αυτές ήταν εξέχουσας στρατηγικής σημασίας, αφού οδήγησαν στην ανάδυση ενός φιλοδυτικού στρατηγικού άξονα, ο οποίος είχε σοβαρό αντίκτυπο στις περιφερειακές  ισορροπίες ισχύος.

Η άνοδος του ισλαμικού Κόμματος Δικαιοσύνης και Ανάπτυξης (ΑΚΡ) στην εξουσία του τουρκικού κράτους, το 2002, λειτούργησε σταδιακά με αρνητικό τρόπο στις σχέσεις των δύο χωρών για δύο βασικούς λόγους. Ο πρώτος λόγος ήταν οι συστημικές αλλαγές που επήλθαν στην περιοχή μετά την 11η Σεπτεμβρίου και την αμερικανική επέμβαση στο Ιράκ (2003), και ο δεύτερος λόγος ήταν η ίδια η ιδεολογία του ΑΚΡ, το οποίο βρίσκεται μεταξύ πολιτικού Ισλάμ και δημοκρατικού κόμματος, παρόλο που απορρίπτει τη σχέση του με το πολιτικό Ισλάμ και διακηρύττει ότι είναι απλώς ένα «συντηρητικό, δημοκρατικό» κόμμα. Όσον αφορά τον πρώτο λόγο, η Τουρκία κλήθηκε να διαχειριστεί ένα ιδιαίτερα ασταθές γεωπολιτικό περιβάλλον τόσο για την ίδια όσο και για τα δυτικά συμφέροντα, που την έφερε πιο κοντά στον αραβο-μουσουλμανικό κόσμο, ενώ σε σχέση με τον δεύτερο λόγο, η ιδεολογία του κόμματος αλλά και το δόγμα του «στρατηγικού βάθους» υπεδείκνυαν καλύτερες σχέσεις με τη Μέση Ανατολή και διατήρηση απόστασης από τη Δύση και το Ισραήλ. Hπροσέγγιση του ΑΚΡ στον αραβο-μουσουλμανικό κόσμο και η αντι-δυτική του στάση έλαβε ακόμα μεγαλύτερες διαστάσεις, όταν μετά το 2006 η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση απογοήτευσε την Άγκυρα ως προς την ενταξιακή της προοπτική, ενώ οι τριβές μεταξύ Άγκυρας και Ουάσιγκτον για το ζήτημα του Ιράκ – το οποίο συμπεριλάμβανε και την σημαντική παράμετρο ασφάλειας του Κουρδικού – συνεχίζονταν.

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The Syrian Crisis and Turkey

After Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Syria is fast becoming one of the bloodiest domino pieces of the Arab Spring which has shaken the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf. Yet, the Syrian crisis is a little different in the sense that it could have much greater and more tragic implications for its neighbourhood – namely, in Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. However, at the moment, the unrest seems to have had direct effects mainly on Turkey which has found itself in a very difficult situation.
When the riots in Syria first started they were relatively small scale and so today’s mass turnouts could hardly have been predicted. At the outset of the protests (mid-March) the Turkish response was fairly calm, although everyone knew what was at stake if the crisis were to escalate. What Turkey did make clear though was its opposition to any intervention in the area. Specifically, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said that any international intervention must be avoided because it could bring unwanted results, while Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that if the international community were confronted with massacres in Syria, then Turkey should undertake a leading role in any response. In the same spirit, Turkey asked for more time to be given to Syria in order for it to implement the reforms promised by President Bashar al-Assad. In the meantime the Turkish government sent humanitarian assistance to its border with Syria to ease any problems caused by the influx of refugees.
Despite the Turkish government’s outward calm, it soon realised the instability that this crisis could bring within its borders, and gradually changed its position. That is, of course, because of the great strategic importance of Syria and its Kurdish population to Turkey in terms of the broader Kurdish problem that Turkey is facing internally and externally. The intensity of the Syrian/Kurdish problem together with the international presence in the region would be a threat to Turkey’s national interests and territorial integrity and so it is understandable that Erdogan’s government would want to take the lead in managing any response.
As it turns out the crisis has not remained limited. Over 1,400 people have been killed and the Syrian refugees that Turkey hosts now number more than 10,000. Furthermore, Bashar al-Assad’s army has been battling protesters and attacking Syrian villages very close to the Turkish border. As the situation with respect to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) worsens and the refugee numbers in Turkey rise, the Turkish government has started to lose its cool. The possibility of a further escalation of the crisis in major civic centres like Damascus, would likely lead to a substantial increase in the flow of refugees. Such a scenario, which could destabilise Turkey internally and give opportunities to the Kurds, is what Ankara fears the most. That is why Turkish authorities are considering the establishment of a safety zone inside Syrian territory to prevent such a development.
The danger though is very real given that the tipping point where a revolt against a regime becomes a civil war seems very close in Syria. That is when the military becomes divided – and marked the decisive point in Egypt’s crisis for Mubarak to step down, as it did in the Libyan civil war we are now witnessing. It has been reported that Syrian military units “clashed with each other” over orders to “crackdown on protesters”. Indeed, this may only be the tip of the iceberg given that we do not know exactly what is happening in Syria, since all foreign media have been prohibited.
It is worth noting that the US and UK share Turkey’s concerns. After all, another war in this geopolitically sensitive region, between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Armenia is the last thing both the West (particularly the US) and Turkey want. It is true, however, that the current situation challenges in the hardest way Turkey’s doctrine of “zero problems with neighbours” and its “soft power” diplomacy. The newly re-elected government under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and PM Tayyip Erdogan are facing a very difficult situation which could determine whether Turkish foreign policy since 2002 when the AKP was first elected has been successful or not. No matter how difficult the task is for the Turkish government, it seems determined to closely monitor the developments not only in Syria but also in the Middle East more generally. Such intentions have been made clear after foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced his Middle East tour, which will also include Syria.
The good relations between Turkey and Syria of late have undoubtedly become strained as a result of the recent crisis. It is clear that no one, neither the West nor Turkey, want a further escalation although the Syrian regime does not seem to be about to give up anytime soon. However, Turkey seems ready to take the appropriate measures in order to maintain the stability in the region and more importantly within its borders. A military confrontation between Turkey and Syria or a rapprochement between Turkey, Israel and the US should not come as a surprise given that Turkey will use all necessary means to achieve its goal of achieving national cohesion and securing its territorial integrity. At this stage of the game for Turkey, the stakes are too high for half measures
Zenonas Tziarras
Posted on Global Politics, July 2, 2011.

Elections in Turkey

Abstract
The victory of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was very much expected in the recent Turkish Parliamentary elections that took place on June 12. The AKP managed to get 49.9% of the votes which is not sufficient for an overall majority in the parliament and means that the winners will likely have to seek cooperation with their opponents in order to achieve certain goals. Below we examine the possible outcomes of the AKP’s attempts to create a new constitution as well as assessing the broader outlook for Turkey as it goes forward.
Even without the vast majority that many expected, the AKP’s victory is clear and will help it to start implementing its agenda, albeit with more difficulty than it would like. Of course, this agenda has been much discussed over the last weeks and many of its points are probably known by now. Among other things it includes Turkey’s relations with the EU, the Kurdish question, energy policy and the effort to create a new constitution. The latter point about the new constitution is the culmination of Erdogan’s policy since the AKP’s first election in 2002 which aims to weaken Turkey’s “Deep State” – or in other words the military’s influence in political life – and reduce its influence in the state’s governing apparatus. This will enhance and ease the AKP’s rule by promoting its political objectives, especially its challenging foreign policy agenda.
The efforts to create a new constitution seem like a relatively easy and mostly bureaucratic undertaking since, as has been argued by many, the AKP will likely be able to implement it eventually, either through cooperation in parliament or a referendum. That would, of course, be yet another victory for the AKP after the success of the referendum of September 12, 2010 and the past elections. But this is far from the reality. The political battle[1] that Erdogan and the AKP are about to fight, is perhaps the hardest since the “Ergenekon” case where Kemalists, linked to the army, planned to overthrow Erdogan’s government.
It is important to note that a large part of Turkish society, approximately 30% or more, still supports the Kemalist character of the state and is concerned about the future of the country under the Islamist government of Erdogan. Perhaps the gradual emergence and strengthening of Islam in the country’s political life was inevitable since Kemal’s attempt for modernisation overlooked the extent to which Islam was part of the culture of the people and elites. Nonetheless, Erdogan’s policy today is not all that different. Since 2002, using the guise of Turkey’s candidacy for EU accession and its quest for democratisation, the AKP has implemented various reform packages which aimed, among other things, to undermine the Kemalist influence. We have seen, however, that this process has not left the Kemalist generals unmoved for yet again in the history of the Turkish state, they have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to overthrow the government.
In this light, Erdogan’s attempt to implement a new constitution could be shown to be an even greater danger to the country’s stability. The Kemalists, though weakened, are likely to react unpredictably if a serious attempt to revise the constitution were to take place, since it is this very constitution that made them protectors of the Turkish state and the guardians of the Kemalist principles. In essence, Erdogan is methodically trying to uproot the ideology upon which the creation of the Turkish state rests.
The AKP’s challenges in establishing a new constitution are expected to be stiff. In terms of Turkey’s policy on issues such as the Kurdish Question, the Greek-Turkish Relations and the Cyprus problem, the country’s behaviour is not likely to change. This is mainly because of the geo-economic developments in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as because of Turkey’s questionable ambition to become part of the EU. At its core, the clash between Islam and Kemalism is a conflict over power. However, in national issues (e.g. Armenia, Cyprus, Greece), the interests at stake are the same for both sides.


[1] There has always been a political battle between Kemalism and Islamism (in this case the AKP). Kemalism (named after Kemal, the founder of Turkey) is the ideology upon which the creation of Turkey was based and is mainly driven by secularism and nationalism while opposing the engagement of religion (Islam) in politics. The armed forces are by law the protectors of the Kemalist principles. Islamism – and particularly Turkish political Islam – has its roots in the Ottoman tradition and culture. Since the mid-20th century up until today it has been getting stronger and more involved in the state’s political life, thus causing a clash between the secular Kemalists and neo-Ottoman Islamists.
Zenonas Tziarras
Posted on June 26, 2011, on www.global-politics.co.uk.

Ο Ερντογάν, το Βαθύ Κράτος και οι Εκλογές στην Τουρκία.

Μετά την αναμενόμενη νίκη του Ερντογάν και του κόμματός του (AKP),  η προσοχή στρέφεται στο επόμενο βήμα των νικητών. Ακόμα και χωρίς την συντριπτική πλειοψηφία που πολλοί περίμεναν, η νίκη του ΑΚΡ είναι ξεκάθαρη και – αν και με περισσότερη δυσκολία απ’ ότι θα ήθελε – θα τον βοηθήσει να βάλει μπρός την υλοποίηση της ατζέντας του. Βέβαια, η εν λόγω ατζέντα έχει πολυσυζητηθεί και πολλά από τα σημεία της είναι πλέον γνωστά. Μεταξύ άλλων περιλαμβάνει τις σχέσεις με την ΕΕ, το Κουρδικό, τη ενεργειακή πολιτική και το νέο σύνταγμα. Ο τελευταίος στόχος που αφορά το νέο σύνταγμα είναι και η κορύφωση της πολιτικής που ακολουθεί ο Ερντογάν, από την πρώτη εκλογή του ΑΚΡ το 2002, που στόχο έχει την αποδυνάμωση του Βαθέως Κράτους και την μείωση της επιρροής του στον κρατικό μηχανισμό. Αυτό θα ενισχύσει και θα ευκολύνει την διακυβέρνηση του ΑΚΡ δίνοντας ώθηση στους πολιτικούς του στόχους και στις υπεραισιόδοξες διεκδικήσεις του στην εξωτερική πολιτική.

Η διαδικασία αυτή μετά τη νίκη του Ερντογάν ίσως να φαίνεται σαν ένα σχετικά εύκολο και κυρίως γραφειοκρατικό εγχείρημα, εφόσον προβλέπεται ότι θα εφαρμοστεί, έστω μέσω συνεργασίας στο κοινοβούλιο και δημοψηφίσματος, αποτελώντας ακόμη μια νίκη μετά τις επιτυχίες του δημοψηφίσματος της 12ης Σεπ. 2010 και των εκλογών. Αυτό όμως πόρρω απέχει από την πραγματικότητα. Η πολιτική μάχη που πρόκειται να δώσει ο Ερντογάν και το ΑΚΡ είναι ίσως η σκληρότερη μετά την υπόθεση «Εργκένεκον» όπου κεμαλιστές οι οποίοι συνδέονταν με τον στρατό σχεδίαζαν την ανατροπή της κυβέρνησης Ερντογάν. Πιο κάτω εξετάζουμε το πως θα μπορούσε να εξελιχθούν οι προσπάθειες για νέο σύνταγμα.

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