As is well-known, the last elections in Turkey on November 1, 2015 witnessed the unexpected success of the AKP Party led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Justice and Development Party, the AKP of President Erdogan and the outgoing Prime Minister and former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Davutoglu, is a complex organization. It won by gaining 317 seats out of 550, with an increase of approximately 9% compared to the elections of June 7, 2015. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) gained 40 seats and 11.9% of votes, losing 4% and nearly 40 seats. The new Kurdish Party was voted by its people (who, anyway, have Iranian origins) and by the “Gezi Park” boys, but the Republican People’s Party (CHP), heir to national and secularist Kemalism, still has 134 seats, equivalent to 25.3% of votes.
A political situation which certainly dispels the fear of a collapse for the AKP, which would certainly also mean an implosion of the Turkish political system, but does not reduce the traditional political factionalism and fragmentation of the Kurdish society, where the separation between urban and rural areas, nation and regions, central and peripheral middle class, nationalism and localism will certainly not be silenced by the victory of a “moderate” Islamist party such as Erdogan-Davutoglu’s AKP.
Were there patronage pressures on the elections? Surely.
Was there Saudi funding? Undoubtedly. Israeli intelligence sources certify that the funds provided to the AKP Party by Saudi Arabia for the last elections amounted to 17 billion US dollars.
Was there also financing from other sources? This is likely, in the framework of the cross-relations existing between powers which oppose each other in a region where no hierarchy of powers has been defined yet.
The Russian Federation has no sympathy for President Erdogan, but it cannot do without a stable and – for what is needed – not unfriendly Turkey.
The reply made by President Putin, last August, to the Turkish Ambassador to Moscow, Umit Yardin, is well-know: “Then tell your dictator President he can go to hell along with his ISIS terrorists and I shall make Syria to nothing that a “Big Stalingrad” for him!” The Turkish authorities reported that on November 6, 2015 a Russian airplane violated the Turkish airspace, but this is certainly irrelevant for the Russian policy in Syria.
Undoubtedly Russia wants Turkey to sit at the negotiating table after having “calmed down, exhausted and subdued” – just to put it in Alessandro Manzoni’s words – all forms of jihad in Syria. Later on, the Russian Federation will create a “contact group” on the new de-jihadized Syria – a negotiating table where Iran, China, the European Union, the United States, Turkey and, probably, Egypt will sit.
The starting point for the AKP, however – the current configuration of which was shaped in 2001 – is the non pro-jihadist Islamic Virtue Party, found unconstitutional by the Turkish Constitutional Court in December 1998 and then forcedly dissolved by it in June 2001.
After being banned and dissolved authoritatively, the Virtue Party divided into two groups, the AKP, and the more Koranic and traditionalist Happiness Party.
In all these moves, it is not hard to imagine a specific role played by Saudi Arabia, interested in a friction with Iran and the Turkish Panturanic and ethno-nationalistic policy envisaged, from the start, by the AKP government.
It is easy to understand that – as the political transition of the 1990s was a break, for Italy and the other pivotal countries acting as a hinge, between the various areas of influence – the Saudis have designed a series of regime changes in their Sunni region, including Turkey and, obviously, Egypt and the Arab Emirates’ system.
Islamization – albeit “moderate”, according to the weary Western language – revived the old project of Turkish Panturanism, from Anatolia to Lake Bakhtash, in Northern Manchuria, the place of origin of the pro-Turkish peoples and the area bordering on the current Chinese Turkmenistan.
An ideology in the style of the “Young Turks”, who secularized Istanbul, translated again in the weary and uninspired jargon of the voluntary or mandatory “moderatism” of Turkey in the first decade of the 21st century. And think that the Young Turks’ sect had been brought up and protected by the many powerful Italian Masonic Lodges of the Grand Orient existing in the Ottoman Empire, from Thessaloniki to Cyprus, from Athens to Istanbul itself.
The breakpoint of the AKP political system in relation to the many more or less modernizing para-Islamist parties was the systematic destruction of the secret organization Ergenekon, which had started in 2009 and regarded a clandestine political-military structure standing as protector of the national historical-political identity, along the lines of the “Young Turks” and Kemal Atatürk, in contrast with an Islamization bringing back Turkey into a dangerous Iranian-Saudi Arabian front, with the Alevi Turks “siding with” Iran.
And it is worth recalling that we are speaking about the second military power of the Atlantic Alliance.
In Turkey, and probably for similar reasons, we witnessed the destruction of a “deep State” apparatus, which outlived the Cold War, as happened – more or less in the same years – in another NATO bordering area, namely Italy.
It was the infra-Islamic divide emerging after the 1979 Shiite revolution, in which – as theorized by the members of the secret organization Ergenekon, named after a mountain of the Altay chain – Turkey would lose any autonomy and future Asian hegemony.
Turkey’s Kemalist tradition is the tradition of a deep national identity, with or without secret organizations, and also President Erdogan’s “moderate” Islamism shall come to terms with it, either nationalizing and ethnicizing his Sunnism or reaching an agreement with the political parties referring to that tradition.
Without it, there is only the great Abbasid Caliphate, a myth dangerously close to the Daesh-Isis’ myth.
It is also worth recalling that the “Alevis”, the Alawi Turks of Anatolia, range between eight and fifteen millions, and the tension between this group, now fully pro-Shiite, and President Erdogan’s Party – also in the last elections – has skyrocketed.
Either President Erdogan, who is now again in power, strengthens his pressure on Kurds and Alevis, or his supporters inside and outside Turkey – who control Turkey’s economic cycle – will sooner or later corner him. Nevertheless if President Erdogan creates this tension, it will be increasingly difficult for him to rule the country and many people will take advantage of the future Turkish chaos.
The victory of today’s AKP means that we have a NATO great military power under the tutelage and protection of the Sunni region of the Greater Middle East. And if something irreparable happens, the regime of the “Justice and Development” Party will obey to the South, not to the West.
Hence the fight between the covert sect, a kind of Deep State, and President Erdogan’s regime is the true breakpoint between the AKP regime and the recent Turkish past. On the other hand, the purpose of Ergenekon operations was precisely to organize a coup against the AKP government.
The Kurds are another difficult problem for the new Parliament dominated by the Party led by Erdogan and Davutoglu which, however, has not the possibility of changing the Constitution.
The People’s Democratic Party, the Kurdish party which recorded some success in the last elections, is a cross between the Greek Syriza Party and the old national, identity-based and socialist parties of Kurdistan.
Apart from the AKP government’s authoritarian pressures during the elections, today the situation is the same as in 2011.
If President Erdogan does not change the Constitution with the cooperation of the current opposition forces, which will ask for something in exchange, he can neither move towards the EU – which is the natural option to avoid the Islamist disaster – nor credibly carry out his Panturanic project of hegemony – at least partial – over Central Asia.
In the coming days we will see how President Erdogan and Davutoglu will manage what is, intuitively, the porro unum et necessarium, the prerequisite of the current Turkish geopolitics.
Giancarlo Elia Valori (@GEliaValori)
Honorable of the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France.