Purge, revision or consensus at the AK Party? - HASAN ÖZTÜRK

Purge, revision or consensus at the AK Party?

Rapid change is going to take place in the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) post-April 16. If we repeat the known schedules, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is going to come to the AK Party Headquarters on Tuesday. He is going to join the party again. He will be speaking at the group meeting on the same day. On May 21, the AK Party is going to hold an Extraordinary General Assembly. Erdoğan is going to be re-elected as AK Party Chairman. Everything is okay up to here.

The real issue, I guess, is in relation to how the AK Party, which puts on its thinking cap after every election and referendum and makes its self-defense, will make its defense in terms of the results of the April 16 referendum and the “revision” it will undergo.

We already knew long before April 16 that in the case of a “yes” majority in the referendum, the president would be returning to the AK Party, become the party chair, that the new system is in a sense, the “Party-Member Presidency Model.”

However, in terms of the referendum results, we had no opinion in relation to the kind of change the AK Party was readying for in terms of the government, its headquarters and groups.

Now we have a picture in front of us. According to this picture, the first thing we have is the referendum achievement. We have to give credit where it's due. But there are also those who voted “no” at a rate of 48.6 percent. I had said that the AK Party was self-criticizing while the reasons behind these “no” votes were being discussed.

This is where revision begins. I believe that those who failed to keep up with President Erdoğan's tempo, those who disturbed his rhythm, those who dragged their feet, those who lazed away and those who once again left a few people to shoulder the burden while they got the benefits will be included in the reviewing process.

I met up with an important local politician in Istanbul the previous evening. He said: “Policies that touched the people on the streets, that listened to them and shared their pain to date brought the AK Party to power in the local domain. The spectacular service in the local domain brought central power and strengthened it.”

“However now,” he said, “We have some friends who are very far from being sincere and making a whole-hearted effort to destroy CHP [Republican People's Party] politics, which is built on lies.” He added that the number of those who would work day and night, those who burned with the desire to serve were many, but now, he said, “Similar to how we assign every job to a subcontractor, we are starting to become inclined to task politics to a subcontractor too. We need to overcome procrastination, this contractor approach immediately.”

He drew a pessimistic picture, saying, “Look, in 2019, there are the local elections first, then the general elections. You might be upset with me, but the elections in 2019 are the most critical elections in Turkey's history. If we go on like this, we will lose in 2019.”
He said one other thing: “With the AK Party's new MYK [Central Executive Committee], the cabinet is going to be formed through the consensus mentality, not a purge mentality. Our leader, the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan I know is the one who sees best all that is happening. Don't be shocked if you see some surprise feedback soon.”

We will see very soon whether ot not the AK Party's local politician was right in his claim that “The new period will be more a period of consensus and revision rather than purge.”

We are watching.

Against who will the US protect Syria's northern border?

There has long been a shift in Ankara between two opinions concerning the Democratic Union Party (PYD) terrorist organization which has been trying to form an autonomous region in northern Syria.

Frankly, the PYD's patron was hiding in the dark corridors of Ankara for quite some time. That part of the issue is another matter of discussion. Today, I want to touch on two opinions concerning the mode of intervention used on the PYD.

US soldier concern at the time of intervention

Not long ago, before the referendum had taken place, an important politician who also knows military bureaucracy very well had said at a breakfast table: “If an operation is conducted on Manbij in the fight against Daesh, without the advantages and disadvantages planned well, the consequences of the accidental death of a soldier from the U.S. Special Forces will be heavy. Care must be taken.”

The same politician had also said Turkey is displaying a very clear stance in the concept of fighting the terror in Syria, but that its interlocutors' – the U.S. and Russia – stance is not as clear.

Destroy Daesh and PYD's lairs

Another claim that has been discussed in Ankara's lobbies for a very long time is that the state is determined about, “Going in and destroying the spaces where they feel safe.”

This statement is made in reference to both Daesh and the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) Syrian affiliate, the PYD terrorist organization.

Those who make the second statement make a strong connection between the “perpetuity” and Syria problems. They are also certain that if Turkey wants to be freed of the terror threat, it has no other choice but to destroy the terror lairs in Syria.

Those who represent the first statement are already fixed on the opinion that in the case of something happening to an American or Russian special forces soldier by “mistake,” it will be difficult to compensate, as relations are already sour with our interlocutors.

Both views are valid.

Turkey's border line apparently an area of interest for Americans

While waiting to see which of the two opinions the state would choose in Ankara, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) conducted the Sinjar and Karachok airstrikes. One is in Syria, the other in northern Iraq. In other words, it is an operation against the PKK and its Syrian affiliate.

We find out today that American soldiers evacuated a significant number of PYD terrorists from Karachok that night. Those who could not escape died in the strikes. And we saw once again, the Americans are making statements like, “The operation endangered the lives of our troops.”

The kind of aid provided to the PKK members in Sinjar remains unknown. However, what is important is how much information the U.S., Russian and northern Iraqi administrations, which were aware of Turkey's airstrikes, shared and with whom.

As a result, it appears that for the time being, a middle path has been found in relation to the two opinions. Through the air operations, our interlocutors are being given messages of determination. It is reminded that rather than going in and destroying, the elements threatening Turkey need to withdraw and go further south.

The U.S.'s attitude is interesting. In their U.S.-flagged armed vehicles, they are in a state of transit along our southern border. They are saying, “There are U.S. troops taking moving around in all of northern Syria with our partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF], [the one that includes PYD members]. Border zones are also included within our areas of action.”

The “border zones” term is important.

Because we have already declared from the highest position that we are against the establishment of a terror corridor in northern Syria, that we will not allow the establishment of a state. We presented documents as proof to our interlocutors that terrorism is being spread into our border from areas close to our border. Yet, the Americans are making nerve racking statements that, “Border zones are also included in our areas of action.”

Then, following the meetings President Erdoğan will be holding with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 3 and U.S. President Donald Trump on May 16, Turkey needs to start asking whether it could open new fronts from the east of the Euphrates.

Which Syrian towns were on the other side of Akçakale and Suruç?

Would Turkey not try every option if necessary, including the “big risk,” for the autonomous region in northern Syria which is considers an imminent threat?

The legitimate right of defense should be telling us everything.

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