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article imageOp-Ed: Turkish president risks civil war in bid to win majority

By Ken Hanly     Aug 21, 2015 in Politics
Ankara - While Turkey is facing huge economic problems and increasing civil strife, President Recep Erdogan seems intent on creating more conflict in order to boost his chance of forming a majority in an election that is expected to be called soon.
According to an article in the Independent, Erdogan is being encouraged by his prime minister: Egged on by a delusion of neo-Ottoman grandeur, created by his former foreign minister and now prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, Erdogan has been intent on creating what many see as his own caliphate, but was blocked in the June election by the Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party).
While Turkey recently agreed to join the battle against the Islamic State and has allowed the US to use a Turkish base for bombing raids into Syria and Iraq, at the same time Erdogan has mounted an offensive against the Kurdish Worker's Party(PKK) in Iraq and also Turkey as described in a recent Digital Journal article.
The HDP achieved a breakthrough in June elections winning 80 of the 550 seats in the Turkish parliament and depriving Erdogan of the votes needed to amend the Turkish constitution so as to give the president more executive power. Erdogan has been trying unsuccessfully to form a coalition government. It appears now that he will instead try to ramp up nationalist sentiment to ensure that he has a majority in elections that may be called in November.
Erdogan has completely changed his direction on the Kurdish question. In 2005 Erodgan was the first Turkish leader to openly acknowledge that there was a Kurdish problem in Turkey. Secret talks were held between Turkish intelligence and the PKK regarded in Turkey as a terrorist organization. The imprisoned leader of the PKK called for a ceasefire two years ago. There was even a ten-point peace plan agreed to by the government and the PKK the end of February this year. Yet, by mid-March Erdogan was again claiming Turkey never had a Kurdish problem and in July after the election he turned his back on the agreement. Now with recent bombings and revenge attacks by the PKK the whole peace process is in tatters.
While Erdogan resides in luxury in his new palace the Turkish economy is going down the drain. The Turkish lira is daily hitting new lows against the US dollar as confidence in the government wanes as it becomes clear that Erdogan will not form a coalition government and intends to ramp up the battle against the Kurds in order to discredit the Kurdish party that thwarted his ambition to change the constitution. Erdogan is willing to foster civil strife in the hopes that Turkish nationalist sentiment will rise giving him the majority he wants in the next elections. None of this impresses potential investors in Turkey, who want stability now and a solution to the Kurdish problem.
Violence and conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK has been escalating. At the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul assailants tossed a grenade at a guard and then opened fire sparking a gun battle in the middle of Turkey's largest city. In another attack in a southeastern province 8 soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb. The attack was blamed on the PKK.
In another development the PKK announced that it has formed a democratic autonomous region in Dersim province. It established checkpoints on the main road in the province last Tuesday. The group released a video showing PKK fighters controlling the road and searching vehicles. In the video, a PKK fighter claims that under the right of self-defense the group had declared democratic autonomy for the region. Warfare has already begun in Silopi, a remote southeastern city as masked militants and Turkish security forces join battle in the city. Silopi is on a border where Turkey, Syria, and Iraq meet. The majority of the estimated 15 million Kurds in Turkey live mostly in cities throughout southeastern Turkey. Militants are taking the battle from attacks on remote military outposts to urban neighbourhoods in Kurd majority areas creating a situation that begins to look more and more like a civil war in some areas. The lust for power has changed Erdogan from being a reformer who appeared to be leading Turkey forward to become a stable, democratic, inclusive country into an autocrat willing to risk creating chaos and ethnic strife with the sole purpose of creating more political power for himself and his cronies. The appended video gives the Russian view on the situation.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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