By: Guadi Calvo. This article was first published on The Dawn News.
The resounding, and expected, resignation of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is based, mostly, on the need of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to carry out a constitutional reform that eliminates the Prime Minister seat, to establish a purely presidential regime that allows him to broaden its power.
The resignation of Davutoglu, who was in charge of the discussions with the European Union in Brussels that sealed the questionable agreements on the refugee crisis, to temper the flow of refugees, mostly Syrians, from Turkey to Greece, aren’t the best news to the European Union since some analysts think that the agreement could be reviewed by Ankara.
In Brussels’ eyes, Davutoglu was considered to be moderated in comparison with the current President, who, despite having authorized the agreement, could, in his desire for power, resort again to extortion to get more advantages.
On the other hand, the EU, which has not given Turkey the amount of money they had agreed upon —6 billion Euros to “take care” of refugees—, must resolve the number of refugees that will be received in their land, a debate that will surely take a long time.
Meanwhile, there are still two other issues pending: the first one, which should have an immediate resolution, is referred to Turkey’s claim for a visa for all their citizens to access to the free European transit zone known as Schengen. The other is the hardest one: the entering of Turkey to the EU.
The disagreements between Erdogan and his former Prime Minister were triggered by the delay of the EU regarding the visas and a very expensive issue to Erdogan, the end of the hard critics of both the EU officers and the press. Also, Davutoglu had caused Erdogan much concern due to being in the spotlight during the negotiations. Also, Davutoglu’s angle in dialogues with the Kurds, didn’t not satisfy Erdogan either, because he intends to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) until it’s antiquated, and even wants to remove the pro-Kurdish deputies, denouncing them as members of a terrorist organization.
Among Davutoglu’s potential successors is the current Transportation Minister, Binali Yıldırım, who comes from Erdogan’s closest circle, also his son in law, Berat Albayrak, married to the oldest daughter of the President and since 2015 Energy Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, Vice Minister and Bekir Bozdag, Justice Minister.
Ahmet Davutoglu became one of the most popular men in Turkish politics, apart from being the head of the Party of Justice and Development (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, AKP), created by him and Erdogan, and he is in conditions of creating an internal line of opposition to the President within the party.
The Constitutional reform that Erdogan intends to achieve would make possible for him to put an end of the secularism established in 1924 by the father of the new Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, to which Davutoglu would oppose.
Fights between Davutoglu and Erdogan are focused not only in regard to national policy, but also regarding foreign policy; it’s worth recalling that Davutoglu was Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2009 and 2015. As the President seeks to get closer to the Islamic world, which would go against his aspiration to join the EU, the former Prime Minister aspires to strategic relations between Turkey and the European Union, which would result in Ankara’s entry to the bloc.
In line with the European point of view expressed by Davutoglu, an anonymous blog published, earlier this month, the “Pelikan report” which accuses him of “betraying Erdogan by selling himself to the West and preventing the political transition in Turkey.”
Recep, the Sultan
The Justice and Development Party, founded in 2011, was born with great links to Islamic radicalism, Salafism and the Muslim Brothers. In more than 15 years in power, the AKP has radicalized its ideology and left behind Ataturk secularism. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 3 times President (2002, 2007, and 2011), has led the country to what many consider as a gradual “Islamization”
Erdogan aspires to a “new Turkey” as announced in his speech at the Fourth Congress of his party: he called on the Turks to celebrate the Battle of Manzikert (1071) in which the Ottoman army, under the Sultan Alp Arslan, defeated the Byzantine troops of Roman IV Diogenes —also known as Romanus IV—, which meant the beginning of the fall of the Byzantine Empire and allowed the creation of the new sultanate of Ancient Rome (Rüm).
This return to Turkey’s history gives reasons to believe that Erdogan could be flirting with the idea of the creation of a neo-Ottoman regime, where the idea of racial supremacy is not excluded, even though Turkey has only 50% Turkish population (Sunni) and 20% Alevi (Alawi Shiite), 20% are Kurds and 10% are from different Catholic and Christian minorities. Many analysts hold that the current Turkish President is offering himself as a candidate to lead a Muslim alliance.
In his way towards Turkey’s islamization, Erdogan has diminished the Army’s power, to which the Ataturk nation had given a key role in the development of the young and secular Turkey. At the same time, in 2012, Erdogan increased in a 20% the budget for “Religious issues”, has promoted the creation of Islamic schools (or “Madrasas”), the creation of more than 10 thousand mosques since 2002, while also introducing, as the overthrown Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had attempted, the Sharia or Islamic Law in the daily life by limiting the selling of alcoholic beverages, and allowing the islamic veil, even in the public administration, which had been forbidden by Ataturk in 1924.
The process of islamization of the Turkish society comes hand in hand with the arrival to the urban center of big social sectors of the rural areas, where religion was free from the restrictions of the Secular State.
Erdogan, in his project to build an the Islamic State and while trying to get the support of other muslim nations, has operated shamelessly against secular governments like the one of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where muslim extremism counted on Turkey as a headquarter.
In his domestic policies, Erdogan has developed true extermination plans against the Kurdish people and left-wing organizations. Besides, he has the “merit” of having the larger average of imprisoned journalists in the world, as well as sustaining a well-oiled policy of intimidation and repression against his people. Turkey is right in the middle between Asia and Europe, and it has neighbors that are tumultuous such as Syria and Iraq; others with a high rate of internal conflicts like Egypt or the petro-monarchies of the Gulf, a secret and good relation with Israel and to the East bankrupt countries like Greece or Cyprus: this is a geopolitical situation that could allow Erdogan —provided that he handles the Turkish military and the US state department gracefully—, to raise with the Sultan crown.