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Baris Karaagac says Turkey has facilitated such acts by ISIS or other terrorist groups during the last few years

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SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome back. I’m speaking with Baris Karaagac. He’s a lecturer in international development studies at Trent University in Canada. He’s also the editor of the book Accumulations, Crises, and Struggles: Capital and Labor in Contemporary Capitalism. Baris, welcome back. BARIS KARAAGAC: Hello, Sharmini. PERIES: I know these are very sad circumstances for you, Baris, and in Turkey. We are also facing an election and the tensions are high, hence why some people are alleging that the government and the government of Erdogan is responsible for the attack. Let’s talk about the upcoming elections. Who are the players and what’s at stake here? KARAAGAC: So there are four main contenders. Of course, the first one is the AKP, the party that has governed Turkey for about 13 years. And then there is the People’s Republican Party, the social democratic party. And there is the MHP, ultra-nationalist/fascist party, according to many people. And then the HDP. A pro-Kurdish party, but it is actually a coalition of a number of progressive groups in Turkey. So these are the main contenders. The election will take place on November 1. The major issue for the AKP is that the HDP, the pro-Kurdish party, stays under the 10 percent electoral threshold, so that the AKP can capture the majority of the members of the parliament. And the HDP received 13 percent of the vote back in June, so it will try to hold on to its electoral base, and the percentage of its votes. But one of the, I think, questions is that, is this election going to take place on November 1? There has been such a significant escalation of violence, particularly since July. And we are actually, we don’t know if it’s going to take place or we don’t know if it’s going to be a fair election. PERIES: And is it in the interest of Erdogan to actually postpone the elections? KARAAGAC: Well. He can. According to Turkish constitution, according to an article in the Turkish constitution which was put in there during the, right after the military took over power in 1980, he has the power to postpone elections if he claims that Turkey is in a state of war. It could be in his interest. I think the escalation of violence could serve him, but at the same time he’s playing a very, very dangerous game. He has polarized the country so much, we have never seen such polarization. Maybe it can be compared to the 1970s when right wing and left wing and militias were clashing in the streets. But I think today it’s even worse. And the escalation of violence and polarization might lead to really, really a very dangerous episode in Turkish history. It might even lead to a civil war, which the progressive forces and above all the pro-Kurdish party, HDP, has been trying to avoid. PERIES: Baris, apparently there’s been an escalation of conversation and rallies throughout Turkey asking people to, under these kind of stressful conditions and attacks that Turkish people are facing, to actually unite around Erdogan. In what form is this manifesting? KARAAGAC: It is–something very interesting took place, the day before the explosions. A convicted mafia boss, Sedat Peker, held a rally in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hometown. He asked the people to unite around Erdogan. Otherwise, there would be so much blood. So this escalation of violence and the branding of the pro-Kurdish party and its members as terrorists might really rally support for Erdogan, but it could also–it could also backfire. Because many people have started to see what Erdogan has been up to, and what he’s been trying to do. And if people are voicing their opposition–and at this moment it is really–we can only speculate. We cannot predict what is going to happen. But if this continues, this discourse and the actions by the government continue, I don’t think that anyone will benefit from that process. PERIES: Now, one would and could argue that Demirtas, the leader of the HDP, now in a more fierce position to defend the party. And elections at this time could also benefit them. What do you make of that? KARAAGAC: They could. But because of the, actually the fighting that took place between the Turkish state and the Kurdish guerrillas in the past couple of months many Turks again started to blame the Kurds for the escalation of violence. And one thing is very important, a significant part of the media is in the hands of the government. But above all in the hands of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. So they have the ability, the power, the capacity to shape public opinion. And many people have again started to blame the Kurds. So I don’t know how they’re going to respond to the process we’ve been going through, and how they are going to vote. But that is the plan, that is Erdogan’s plan, to mobilize the nationalist vote against the HDP. PERIES: Baris Karaagac, thank you so much for joining us today. KARAAGAC: Thank you for having me. PERIES: Thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.


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Baris Karaagac is a lecturer in International Development Studies at Trent University, in Ontario. He is also the editor of the book Accumulations, Crises and Struggles: Capital and Labour in Contemporary Capitalism.