Turkey is going through a difficult period of being tested on both the domestic and international planes, and sadly, Turkey is unable to pass this test because it is confused and exhausted. I am afraid everybody will have to pay the price for this huge failure, as those who govern the country seem to have long forgotten their original role and mission. The problem of failing to focus on what really matters is so severe that, as a consequence, the reasons for grave failures are not identified and the repercussions of the disasters that these failures caused are not properly analyzed.
Take the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) problem and its effect upon Turkey, for example. Turkish foreign policy should have distanced itself from such organizations and groups from the very beginning; however, its obsession with the Syrian matter made it commit grave mistakes. Those who argued that the Syrian regime would be toppled in a very short time continued to make strategic mistakes even when they realized that this was not going to be the case after all. They failed to predict that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime would attract the support of some regional powers, including Iran, and consolidate its power. They should have predicted that Turkey's close relations with radical Islamist groups in order to topple the Assad regime would cause problems. But they did not, because Turkey lost its vision and its reason when it made miscalculations in the Mavi Marmara incident where nine Turkish people were murdered by Israeli defense forces. It is now unable to make bold diplomatic moves and maneuvers.
The Egypt policy failed. A coup was staged against the Muslim Brotherhood and Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won the election. What can you do now? Given that you have to continue to have a relationship with Egypt, shouldn't you have been able to predict what would happen? The bloody balance the repressive regime created in Syria via its alliances drove Turkey to the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and an armed group like ISIL. And yet while all these things were happening, the Turkish state preferred to pay attention to a so-called "parallel state" and exhausted its energy. As part of this approach, it took some disgraceful action against the members of this imagined “parallel state.” This is such a shame. What they did was not just an ethical mistake; it was also a criminal act. What will state officials, members of the intelligence services, the foreign ministry and diplomatic missions say if a person asks how and on what basis you profiled him and asked another state to take measures against him?
There is another side to the story, a saddening side. Namely, that because of the allegations about a "parallel state," Turkey has become a country that is unable to identify what is happening next door. ISIL created a state and an army and then occupied Iraq. It also invaded our consulate building and took the diplomatic mission hostage; but those who rule Turkey were unable to predict what happened because they failed to focus on their original task. Instead, for more than seven months, people have been collectively accused and insulted without concrete evidence ever being offered.
The lack of proper focus and attention is the main reason for many other problems and turmoil, as well. The energy spent and time wasted in meaningless discussions and debates could be cited as a main reason for the foreign policy failures.
While you accused innocent people of being members in a gang and referred to constructive civil society groups as "parallel state," a real terror organization recruited new militants and resorted to violent measures, including taking down the Turkish flag. You must have realized who "the parallel state" is now. Those who made not one single remark against the PKK and its leader as these developments took place and yet still continue to insult innocent people who have done nothing wrong in their lives. Nearly 20,000 police officers were reappointed; this created a huge security breach in the country. The mafia has become more influential; does anybody know about this? Drug abuse has become a widespread problem; do you feel any responsibility? The number of homicides has increased significantly; does this bother you?
Things are going badly. God forbid, but things may get even worse because the repression of innocent people is still in place. Due to the lack of focus, the country is being dragged to the edge of total collapse. There is only one remedy: Turkey needs to return to common sense and turn to democratic rules and the supremacy of the law so that it can stand against the growing threats. Those who think that this is not the case endanger their own futures and will threaten the future of the country, as well.
Are religious communities ready for repressive measures?
No religious community is a “parallel state;" the tradition and orientation of communities and religious orders simply dismisses this allegation. Communities are not enemies of the state, they are part of it. Every community fills some void in social life as it lawfully trains and serves the public. It is a huge mistake and a sinful act to affiliate them with having a political orientation, make them part of the state and intimidate them with repressive measures.
Unfortunately, when you refer to a religious community as "a parallel state" and use this allegation as a pretext for repressive measures, this excuse will eventually be used against all civil society groups. We raised this concern a while ago and sadly, time proved us right. Now we have a new situation: "Risale-i Nur," a seminal collection of works by Said Nursi, has not been published for 75 days, victimizing some Nurcu groups. The Religious Affairs Directorate (DİB) continues to participate in this repressive measure. This attitude against the publishers who are legally entitled to publish these books is nothing but an operation to intimidate all religious groups.
The unlawful action taken against the Çarşamba community and its followers is the outcome of this brutal and repressive approach. Mahmut Hocaefendi, leader of the community, denied the aggressive allegations made by the Yeni Şafak daily. He accused the Albayrak family. Now I wonder if the Albayrak family feels guilty about the ugly campaign against the religious scholars. Well, there is more. It all became clear when the Çarşamba community said in a written statement that deputies had been sent to threaten the community. How dare they do this?
Recently, a famous “Islamist” columnist, instead of exposing these hidden relationships, praised the attempts to make the religious communities submissive to the wishes of the government. He alleged that all communities had the potential to become a "parallel state." This is the mentality. Who is next? The Menzil community, the Erenköy community? It should be recalled that people should be fearful of Allah. Eventually, brutality and repression will hurt the perpetrator.
Published on Today's Zaman, 16 June 2014, Monday