Turkey Day?

A couple of us Agonistas solicited Sean Paul Kelley’s views on the current brouhaha involving Turkey and Syria. Having recently returned from Istanbul – a city and culture he knows well – and with his familiarity with the peoples and history of the area, he was kind enough to enlighten us with the following:

  This last election, just two weeks behind us now, more or less, proves the following: The AKP has firmly consolidated its power in Turkey in the political realm, the media, the military, the ministries and the provinces. They have swept the board, run the table, pick you metaphor. They’ve won.

  This victory means that the AKP has effectively destroyed Kemalism, which was that broad political consensus from the left to the right regarding modernization and secularization. For the longest time Turks believed that to have modernization it must be accompanied by secularization and vice versa. But the legitimate economic miracle Erdoğan presided over drove a nail into the coffin of the great Kemalist consensus. Modernity and secularism were no longer to be sought after equally. In fact, modernism wasn’t the enemy, secularism was. And now secularism is under complete attack from all directions. To those wishful thinkers in the West who think, “Oh, if the Turks just get the right media savvy, moderate, attractive candidate things will change,” I tell them this: if you believe that silliness Erdoğan and the AKP have some great seaside property they want to sell you near Erzurum.

  It is time to accept reality: the Turkish Left is dead. Any one who says otherwise is like the young boy whistling past the graveyard at night. And Erdoğan? He’ll be Turkey’s Putin, changing places with Davotoglu every few years, or some other stand in.

  Finally, the AKP, in order to keep its grip on power will now attack the Kurds with every weapon in the post-modern arsenal to keep Turks unified. They’ll support ISIS to attack the Kurds, they’ll attack the Kurds in the schooling systems, and in many other ways. The sole goal of the AKP domestically is to stay in power and all keep Turks united by fighting their internal enemy: the Kurds.

  Do I sound cynical? Well, Turkish politics are not American politics. We’re talking about the place that gave rise to the term Byzantine as shorthand for the place where all political agency, gets sucked into Schrodinger’s cat’s furballs and become quantum super-entangled, shattering assumptions into a million particles, just like the big supercollider at CERN does to a single atom.

  One question remains unanswered: how long does Turkey remain a member of NATO? If Davotoglu and Erdoğan’s covert and sometimes overt alliance(s) with ISIS and Al Qaeda like elements in Syria is any indication, Turkey leaves sooner than the NATSEC elite desire (replete with cries of “but no one could have foreseen!”), but longer than the realists who see the region in need of a general way and realignment. It will be ugly. Paisktan has nukes and so does India. It’s a tough neighborhood.

  What we’re witnessing is a return to the old way of politics, when the Akkoyunlu, Safavids, Karakoyunlu and Ottoman’s battled it out with each other and then, when everyone was exhausted from fighting, the leading power would graciously offer his hospitality in his tent that evening for dinner. Once all the princes arrived, he had them slaughtered and became regional hegemon. This is what Erdogan seeks. Perhaps not as graphically as I laid out, but he wants the role of big boss in the Levant. Erdogan is not America or the EUs friend.

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I might add that the marketing by ISIS of oil to Turkey and particularly via Erdogan’s son illustrates another reason for Turkey’s action. Like power everywhere, money is a significant player in the game. Russia was interdicting that oil flow.

    The cooperation of Iran in the rescue of the co-pilot means that Turkey is likely to have competition from Iran for dominance in the area. Russia may well be able to play off Turkey & Iran to influence events in the Levant more effectively than the US/NATO/Saudi alliance is doing.

    My gut feel is that Saudi Arabia’s days are numbered. Some pundits give them another 10 years at most, perhaps less. While there are other ‘oil states’ in the area, when the Saudis fall, the others won’t amount to much politically. And without Saudi financing, fundamentalists movements may be curtailed. If Turkey and Iran (and Russia, directly or by proxy & alliances) end up writing the script for the MidEast for the next 50 years, I don’t see how it could end up much worse than what America & its puppets/allies – EU, NATO, Israel, Saudis – have done, given Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya & Yemen.

    Updated: Note that Albania is the only NATO member with a significant Muslim population. A sectarian Turkey may end up either withdrawing from NATO or being booted, or (more likely) simply unsupported if it gets into trouble and expects NATO to come to its aid no matter what it does. It seems to me in the case of the Russian jet, Turkey was playing ‘Let’s you and him fight’. I suspect NATO is taking a dim view of Turkey trying to pick a fight with Russia, hoping they would get NATO support, which does not seem to be the case.

    • Many Turks were also suspicious of fraud but ballot analyses like this one show AKP increased its vote from its own base who didn’t goto the polls on June election (“Oy vermeyen”) and other small parties (“Diğer”).

      There are reasons to be very pessimistic about Turkey’s future as Erdoğan at the helm but his own party AKP and prime minister Davutoğlu are also worried about him. SPK’s analysis may become true but I’ll give another 6 months to see how much Erdoğan will be effective after the elections. Strong election results after June disappointment made PM Davutoğlu a real player (he is no Medvedev) and he will be at the crossroads with Erdoğan on many issues. The opposition is powerless but AKP itself can stop Erdoğan. Here is a related piece:

      Davutoğlu’s victory brings issue of power-sharing with Erdoğan to agenda

      New cabinet’s composition shows that Davutoğlu is trying to strike a balance between repairing the damage of Erdoğan’s last 3-4 years and not making Erdoğan very angry.

  • I thought this was about the quaint celebration on the last Thursday of November.
    A myth of the feel good beginnings of that which presaged the end of the indigenous nations of the North American continent; following the rape of the Central and South American indigenous populations.
    This thread is just pathetic…

    • The post was deliberately titled to contrast Thanksgiving Day and the events in Turkey, but evidently irony is not your forte.

      I question what you find pathetic about commentary on the state of affairs in Turkey and events in the Middle East. Or does ‘pathetic’ refer to the imaginary post you expected?

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