The end of the road for the AKP government
What is happening in Turkey? How should one assess the current political crisis and what are the factors behind it? Analysis from the Turkish communists.
Eleven years ago, despite some hesitations, the US considered AKP as an option “worth a try” for ruling Turkey. The neoliberal Islamic party was very enthusiastic about serving the US interests in the Middle East. AKP submitted a plan to the US policymakers who were at the time envisioning the promotion of a version of Sunni Islam in the region. This version of political Islam would be compatible with the interests of the global capital and its imperialist centers. AKP was ambitious though; it would not be satisfied with the passive diplomacy of the conventional Turkish foreign policy. Having eventually convinced the US administration of its allegiance to the imperialist interests, AKP acquired a position of a first rank ally to the US, a “strategic partner” in the Middle East.
In Europe as well, both the right and “left” governments in the EU got excited with this new party’s pro-Western and pro-capitalist Islamism. Russia assumed that it would be possible to align her interests in terms of economic relations and energy with the government of Erdoğan who prided himself on his “merchant” background. Israel had already been aware of the pragmatism of the Milli Görüş (National Outlook) tradition, the movement from which AKP was born. They did not consider “Islamic identity” a problem, as long as the military and economic relations were on track.
The Turkish bourgeoisie discovered the entrepreneurial spirit of AKP and realized that this new team was a great candidate to create a thornless rosebush for the capital and could use religiosity as a means to soften the potential social reactions to the upcoming neoliberal assaults on the working class. Not only the Fethullah Gülen sect but other religious sects as well were supporting AKP for their own (economic) interests. The Kurdish movement was expecting that the AKP government, which is not in line with the policies of the “traditional nationalist state”, might create an opportunity to solve the Kurdish problem.
What went wrong?
AKP has recently been losing favor with the US imperialism in terms of its credibility and reliability as a sustainable government. An account of the reasons behind the decline of AKP should emphasize the role of two failures: the first was the total collapse of Turkey’s foreign policy in Syria and the friction on whether to support elements of the Syrian opposition directly linked to Al-Qaeda. The second failure was the government’s impotency to control the incidents that led to the people’s uprising in June against its ever-expanding oppression at home. It is also important to note that the allies of Erdoğan were also losing in the Middle East during more or less the same period. A popular movement to be followed by a military coup overthrew the Muslim Brothers in Egypt. The Ennahda Government in Tunisia had also been losing ground for a long time.
In terms of the domestic dynamics, AKP was supported by a coalition of forces which included the so-called “secular wing of the” Turkish capital and religious organizations. The main constituents of the current AKP government that has been ruling Turkey for the last eleven years are Erdoğan’s entourage and the Gülen community (also known as Hizmet Movement) whose leader has been living in the US for more than a decade. In alliance with the Gülen community, AKP irrevocably managed to put the army and judiciary under control, thus, replacing the Kemalist Republic with a new Islamist regime. Throughout this transformation and in collaboration with the Gülen community, AKP has established its own rule after seizing control of the executive, legislative and judicial powers. The members of the Gülen community, however, pull the strings of the latter and that of the police forces.
The current crisis can be understood as a fracture within the ruling bloc in Turkey. The coalition of forces, including the international capital and the US imperialism, which had supported the AKP government until recently, are now questioning whether they can continue with Erdoğan’s leadership. The last “corruption and bribery operation” that has been unleashed should be analyzed in this context. Through its cadres in the judiciary and the police, it was the Gülen community under US’s directives, which pushed the button for the operation. The aim of this operation is to weaken AKP first-hand and to curb Erdoğan’s ego, which has frequently brought his policies in conflict with the imperialist interests in the region. Although the decline of the government has started, it is expected that the operation will continue for a while before the final blow is dealt. The imperialist centers, international and national capital need time to come up with new alternatives, new configuration of powers to replace the AKP government. This new configuration may include the social democratic opposition party CHP, the Gülen community and some cadres of AKP. Another but a weaker option is that they may continue to work with the AKP, if the government could assure full obedience, firs by jettisoning all political and ideological claims, which are not approved by imperialism and convince the imperialist centers that there would not occur any better alternative to control Turkish society in near future.
There are strong signs that the secular and “left” leaning CHP under the leadership of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is ready to cooperate with the U.S. and the Gülen community. Kılıçdaroğlu has avoided making any negative comments regarding the role the U.S. and Gülen community have played in the corruption scandal. It is known that Kılıçdaroğlu has been conducting negotiations with the associations linked to the Gülen community. This can be seen from the choice of CHP Mayor candidates in the upcoming local elections. İstanbul candidate is known to have strong ties with the Gülen community and the candidate for Antakya is the former AKP Mayor, whom AKP has chosen not to nominate.
AKP is approaching the end
People had the pessimist belief that “this government will never go away.” In June, a popular movement emerged and succeeded in energizing even the most pessimists and we all have witnessed how the political balance of the country radically changed in a few days. The main slogan of the people that took the streets back in June was “Government, resign! Dictator, resign!” The main slogan on the streets today is still the same “Dictator, resign!”
The defeat of the dictator, however, should not be left to the Gülenists or the US. The people should do their own work. It is the responsibility of the TKP to organize the June popular resistance in a political movement to finish the job the resistance has started.