Bernard Owen, Maria Rodriguez-McKey
Since the taking of Constantinople by the “Muslim Army” on May 29, 1453 Turkey has been a warrior country. Not long ago, during the cold war, one had to look at an army battalion of Turkish soldiers to be convinced of theirefficiency. And as we all remember well, the cold war was a time of great tension, a time that included events such as the Cuban missile crisis, when NATO had chosen Turkey to be the host of the first U.S. missiles (Pershing) that were aimed against the Soviet Union.
Out of the cinders of the Ottoman empireMustapha Kemal ATATURKtried tobuikd a modern and secular Turkish state and for which he relied on the Army then, and for the follow-up.The army took over when the main organized religion reacted. To gain confirmation the army organized a referendum which it won.
Whatever the future will be, the fact that the members of its parliament are elected through proportional representation made and makes the country difficult to govern. There have been 11 governments in 10 yearswhile at the same time that far-left and far-right movements became violent. As a result of the failure of governance, the coup d’états are looked upon most favorably by the international community, the reason being that the military always restored democracy.
But as far as one of Turkey’s important minorities is concerned, the Kurds, our approach, and that of other researchers, is not made easy for two reasons. Firstly, there are 30 million Kurds who live in mostly ten different nations in the Middle East and beyond. Secondly, it appears that 18% of the Turkish population is of Kurdish descent. Turkey has made efforts to integrate them; there were even Kurdish members of parliament. And from the perspective of a foreigner coming to Turkey, it would seem that indeed the Kurds were integrated. One thorny problem was and is the PKK, a communist organization that inhabits a mountainous region.
The presence of Kurds in different countries such as Irak, Syria and Iran could eventually bring about a modification of borders that would also have consequences on Turkey.
The consequences of cutting-off the Kurdistan region of Irak from the control ofSadam Hussein’s government after the first war against him arenot yet clear. This was done because the West accusedhimof having used chemical weapons against revolutionaries that were mostly in the Kurdish area.
To come back to Turkey, it would appear that there had been large-scale killings of Kurds by Turks. The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for thousands of human rights abuses. These are the so-called “mystery killings”, the figures being over 3,000 in 1993-1994.
On JUly 19, 2016three terrorist attacked Istanbul airport killing 42 people and wounding over 200. Only Israel’s Ben Gurion airport has checks to prevent this type of attacks. Kids move around the passengers asking them questions regarding their luggage , chatting with them in an innocent way. Nobody took responsibility for some of the attacks in Turkey but the fingers pointed tothe to the Islamic State.
Anyone who knows the Turkish military well should be surprised at the large number of high-ranking officers arrested after the coup d’état: 178 generals and admirals. In other words, 27.5of the military which in July goes up to 44%. The military attaché of president Erdogan was fired.
Even the private sector is concerned: on July 28 42,777 people, including professors, teachers, administrative personnel have been fired.
In contrast to these authoritarian ways, thecontry seems to be falling into anarchy as the Jewish population is under attack and Christian churches burnt.
President Erdogan should concentrate on fighting the Islamic State wherever it is and not attack Turkish-born Kurds. It is very hard to fight on two fronts so one should not make a mistake as to who it is. The enemy is the Islamic State whchis in Syria, and Turkey has to collaborate with Russia which is the only efficient way to end the war.
After the coup d’état, Wikileaks posted thousands of E-mails written by AKP party members in government. The Web site in Turkey was closed soon after.