Turkey (GV) – “This country is split down the middle like a watermelon,” political commentator Hasan Celik kept repeating again and again in a live broadcast on Kanal D* as the results of the country’s controversial April 16 constitutional referendum trickled in. Initially they…
Turkey plans a referendum by next May on constitutional changes that would expand the powers of the president and will then hold presidential and parliamentary polls together in 2019, a deputy prime minister said on Friday.
Nurettin Canikli told A Haber TV in an interview that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would submit its proposal on the constitutional changes to parliament on Friday and that the nationalist MHP opposition would support the bill.
“The referendum looks like it could be held around March or April, but it could also be pushed to May,” he said, ruling out any early election before 2019, Reuters reported.
On Monday, Wikileaks released a batch of almost 58,000 emails sent and received by Turkish president Recep Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak.
The release, termed by Wikileaks as ‘Berat’s box’ includes thousands of emails detailing Albayrak’s dealings as the Turkish Minister of Energy. The emails encompass a span of sixteen years beginning April of 2000 until September of this year. Wikileaks was given the database of emails by a Turkish Marxist-Leninist ‘hacktivist’ group known as RedHack.
RedHack had initially announced that they had obtained the emails in September but their social media accounts and pages containing news of the hack were taken down. Originally the group threatened to release the emails if the Erdogan government wouldn’t release Alp Altınörs, a member of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and a journalist named Aslı Erdogan. Suspected members of RedHack have been threatened since September by the government and subjected to the ongoing post-coup torture.
Kurds find themselves in the eye of a fast paced and changing storm in the Middle East. We travel to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party mountain stronghold in northern Iraq to get a first-hand take on a critical moment for the whole region. Karlos Zurutuza interviews Riza Altun, Kurdistan Communities Union executive member and co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast is witnessing, what is possibly, an unprecedented peak of violence. Fierce clashes between Turkish security forces and urban militants have levelled districts to the ground. The ongoing post-coup crackdown in Turkey targets Kurdish political representatives as new fronts also open for Kurds across the Middle East. ‘It’s a turning point for our people,’ says Riza Altun from the headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Qandil mountain range.
The whole experience was psychedelic, even for seasoned observers of Turkish politics, most of whom were first-hand witnesses or indeed victims of the periodic interventions of the “guardians of the republic” – in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1997 and, for that matter, 2007.
Fighter jets and helicopters flying over Istanbul and Ankara, dropping bombs on police headquarters and the parliament, sporadically opening fire on civilians; tanks and platoons occupying central locations, among them the two bridges on the Bosphorus, the Ataturk airport, TV stations and General Staff headquarters; a president defying the mutiny on Facetime and calling the “nation” to take to the streets; a quick denouement which left 265 dead, 1440 wounded and an even stronger “strongman” behind.
This week the widening rift between Turkish Prime Minister Davutoğlu and President Erdoğan was officially acknowledged when Davutoğlu’s resignation as the party leader was announced after a long meeting between the two. Anextraordinary party congress will be held to elect the next leader.
The discord between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu was well-known for a while; but it reached a peak last week when the Prime Minister was stripped of his power to appoint the heads of local AKP branches through a decision taken by the pro-Erdoğan members of the AKP’s executive board. There were rumours about ‘an internal coup’ against Davutoğlu, especially after an anonymous blog calledPelikan Dosyası appeared a few days ago with many claims and conspiracies in an evident attempt to discredit Davutoğlu.
Despite efforts to present a unified front, tensions between Turkey’s President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu could soon reach a boiling point, and result in the latter’s resignation.
Fourteen years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Legally, Erdogan can not serve as party head while serving as president, and he personally chose Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to replace him as the party’s chief.
For many, Turkey advances towards a dark future at a fast pace. Having a rather noncommittal relationship with democracy, the Republic has muddled through with significant ups and downs. It still takes a lot of optimism to talk about political power becoming fully accountable to the public.
Politics, already a one-man-show, is becoming increasingly intolerant towards any form of criticism. It pushes dissidents off the stage. Turning the Parliament into a technical apparatus President Erdoğan is moving to lift the parliamentary immunity of deputies. Relying on a judicial apparatus that he formed when he was the prime minister, Erdoğan will target the deputies of the pro-Kurdish, left-leaning People’s Democracy Party (HDP). Following this pattern, he will further target HDP deputies and position them as public enemies in the fight against terrorism. The recent performance of the HDP gives little hope about their remaining fully inside the legitimate political sphere by distancing themselves completely from PKK terrorism. Since the last general election on November 1, Erdoğan seems to be succeeding with his political strategy of pushing the HDP further to the margins and the HDP seems to be taking the bait doubly pressed upon them by Erdoğan and the PKK.