As you may know, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been able to postpone the Kurdish settlement process they started in 2009 until after the 2015 elections.
Those who are familiar with the political backstage in Ankara as well as Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) sources are aware that Erdoğan is trying to buy time before the elections. Despite this, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan made a critical move in 2012 and won Erdoğan over; now Erdoğan depends on Öcalan, who has ensured that the PKK will maintain control in the region in the process and who has weakened the state's abilities.
Erdoğan is so weak vis-à-vis Öcalan and PKK that the PKK does not feel the need to threaten Erdoğan with starting armed conflict again. Even the PKK leadership's statement that they would expose the content of the agreement with Öcalan is sufficient to raise concerns in Ankara. The AKP does not want to disclose the content of the memorandum with Öcalan, and the PKK holds this as a card that they can use as a threat against the AKP whenever they want something. 2015 will be a year in which the content of the settlement agreement between Öcalan and the government will be disclosed. But Erdoğan will not be able to justify this content so easily.
In addition, the Syrian issue will gain a different dimension in 2015, one in which Ankara will have to take measures to address the probable impacts of its intricate relations developed to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey, which has promised to join the “train and equip” part of the American strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), will have to revisit its relations with ISIL and al-Qaeda. It will not be easy for Ankara to end its relationship with al-Qaeda and to stand against them.
This is the reason why in 2015 Ankara will face the consequences of its Syria policy over the last five years. This will cause some fragility in Turkey. While parting ways with its previous partners, Turkey may become a terror target.
On the other hand, the PKK's Syria policy will also be clarified in 2015. Ankara will have to maintain its own security by considering the delicate balance between the PKK, the US, ISIL, al-Qaeda and Assad's forces in Syria. This is the reason why Turkey will have hard times.
However, if proper policies are not developed, Turkey may become a terror target in 2015; the southern parts are particularly vulnerable to possible terror attacks.
Anti-Hizmet strategy in 2015
Erdoğan has not been able to identify Fuat Avni, who posts tweets from the presidential palace; but he declared a victory in his fight against the Hizmet movement. He did so because as the so-called struggle continues, the coalition he assembled is falling apart. This is the reason why Erdoğan had to declare victory. But this declaration of victory is similar to George W. Bush's “mission accomplished” statement in the Iraqi war.
Despite Bush's claim that mission had been accomplished, tension and violence escalated in Iraq, where many American soldiers were killed. A total of 5,000 American troops were killed after Bush's declaration of victory.
Because of these casualties, the Republicans lost the elections, and Obama promised withdrawal from Iraq in his election campaign.
Erdoğan's "victory" is something like this. It is a prematurely declared victory. It is true that Erdoğan has done some harm to the Hizmet movement, but the fatal wounds he has sustained while doing this are making him weaker with every passing day. Every fist he throws makes Hizmet stronger while weakening his position. The most recent operation, against Zaman and Samanyolu TV, was echoed in the world media, whose reports show that Erdoğan is alienated in the world.
As the Hizmet movement remains decisive, the domestic coalition Erdoğan has built based on fear is collapsing. Some religious communities that seemingly side with Erdoğan have sent messages to Hizmet movement telling them to hang on because they might be next in this witch hunt.
Likewise, Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı himself has stated that some AKP figures told him that they did not endorse what happened to him. Erdoğan, who, despite all efforts, realizes that he is unable to finish off the Hizmet movement, knows that the wall of fear will fall and that his current supporters will change side if this fight takes long time. For this reason, he makes statements declaring a victory to keep his supporters around.
However, there has been no victory at all. Public surveys show that support for Fethullah Gülen has increased significantly in November and December.
It has now become apparent that Erdoğan and the AKP will lose in this fight; in that case, Erdoğan and his aides will have make a finale in their fight against the Hizmet movement in 2015. This means further authoritarianism and illegality. The economic and political fragility of Turkey will not be able to tolerate further stress. This is the reason why Erdoğan has to take abrupt steps and measures to seal the case with the Hizmet. However, Erdoğan does not have such a miraculous option. Erdoğan will lose this battle as time passes by.
There are also arguments suggesting that Erdoğan will confiscate Zaman and Samanyolu to silence the Hizmet movement. Erdoğan will certainly want to do this. However, unlike the pro-government media, Zaman and Samanyolu will not surrender. In case Zaman and Samanyolu are confiscated, the Hizmet movement will publish fliers and distribute them to the people. In other words, confiscating Zaman and Samanyolu will not be sufficient to silence the Hizmet movement.
2015 and corruption
Corruption has remained a major debate in 2014. The corruption allegations involving Erdoğan and his aides are now being covered by the global media as well.
Even the future decision of the corruption commission at Parliament on Jan. 5 has caused disagreements within the AKP. If four former ministers are referred to the court for prosecution, the papers will make reports on corruption. If not, this will reinforce the public perception that the government has tried to cover up the charges.
In addition, the trials of the police officers that were placed under arrest in response to the corruption operations will have to start in 2015. It is not hard to predict the content of the media reports on the information those police officers would reveal in courts. Even the information Ali Fuat Yılmazer, who announced that he met with Erdoğan 50 times in the Ergenekon process, would alone make the AKP and Erdoğan uncomfortable. This is why corruption will remain a major discussion in 2015.
The AKP will conduct new operations to cover the corruption allegations, but the AKP's operations are so ridiculous that they have to place people under arrest because of a script. And this makes everything very complicated for the AKP.
Published on Today's Zaman, 02 January 2015, Friday