Ankara’s renewed battle against the PKK is a rather transparent attempt to undermine support for the Kurds ahead of the next election which he hopes will see AKP regain its parliamentary majority, a precondition for his plans to rewrite the constitution, creating an executive presidency. In other words, Erdogan is more than willing to plunge the country into civil war if it means beating back opposition and clearing the way for his power grab.
With the deadline to form a governing coalition just days away (August 23), new elections look all but inevitable and now, opposition leaders are openly accusing the President of staging a “coup” on the way to rewriting the country’s laws and overhauling its political system.
“Accept it or not, Turkey’s governmental system has become one of an executive presidency,” Erdogan said on Friday. “What should be done now is to finalize the legal framework of this de facto situation with a new constitution.”
“He’s now saying ‘I won’t listen to the laws or constitution.’ This is a very dangerous period,” warns Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Main Republican People’s Party. “He wants to give a legal foundation to this coup he’s carried out. Those who carry out coups always do this: First they carry out the coup, then they give it a legal foundation.’”
But the most pointed criticism came from Nationalist opposition leader Devlet Bahceli who took to Twitter, and accused Erdogan of being a “locally produced Hitler, Stalin or Qaddafi.’”
Yönetim sistemi bir kişinin eline kaldıysa vay halimize! Bizim yerli üretim Hitler’e, Stalin’e, Kaddafi’ye tahammülümüz olmaz, bu iyi biline
— Devlet Bahçeli (@dbdevletbahceli) August 15, 2015
Meanwhile, fighting between Ankara and the PKK has escalated in the guise of a fight with ISIS. As The Economist notes, “many warn that the situation could spin out of control.” Here’s more:
Yet every day is carrying Turkey further away from peace. The funerals of security personnel, broadcast on television, inflame Turkish tempers. Some Turkish nationalists vilify Kurds as terrorist sympathisers, deepening the polarisation. Human-rights groups say over a thousand Kurds have been detained in the south-east in the past few weeks. Allegations of maltreatment are spreading.
Many warn that the situation could spin out of control. Young Kurds born in families displaced by the earlier conflict tend to support the militants. In October 2014, protests against Turkey’s lack of support for the Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State (IS) led to street violence in which nearly 40 people died. Meanwhile the autonomous area carved out by Kurdish fighters in Syria, which they call Rojava, is fuelling dreams on the Turkish side of the border too. In Kurdish towns, the fresh graves of young fighters killed in Rojava, festooned with flowers and flags, testify to the growing numbers joining the struggle.
Civil-society organisations say there is little time left to avert disaster.
But it won’t be a disaster for Erdogan. The more intense the fighting, the more support AKP will likely garner. If the President gets the outcome he wants in a new round of elections he will have succeeded not only in subverting the democratic process but of rewriting the constitution in blood – literally.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the type of regime that Washington considers a strong regional “ally.”