War on Terrorism in The Middle East?

Turkish public opinion learnt a militant organisation’s name in June 2014 why the organisation captured Mosul which is an oil rich city in Iraq. The organisation’s name is Islamic State of Iraq-Sham. Sham means Damascus in Turkish. As it is known it’s the capital of Syria. But Sham does not indicate Damascus in the organisation’s initials. It has the same meaning with Levant which is in French word and it is used to define Eastern Mediterranean. So ISIS or ISIL is used for the organisation’s name.  ISIS seized Turkey’s Mosul consulate and took the consol and officials, their families as hostages until September. On the other hand Turkey has been blamed several times about cooperation with ISIS in the context of training militias, sending weapons and illegal oil trade.[i]  But Turkey is striking ISIS places from the date of July 23 2015. What has changed? Turkey also opened NATO’s Incirlik base in her soil for allies’ air attacks against to ISIS. Turkey has agreed to support allies against to ISIS from September 2014 but we’re facing the tangible developments in summer 2015. Here’s the main cause indicates ISIS attack to Turkish army on June 23, 2015. Before the attack, ISIS used suicide bomber to Turkish citizens in Suruç on June 20, 2015.  The young activists were going to Kobani in Syria for sending toys to children and they were members of HDP which is the pro Kurdish party in Turkey. 31 young persons were killed and ISIS tried to underline blast as a clash between ISIS-PKK (PYD). However the massacre targeted Turkey’s stability. The demonstrations started in the country and provoked the polarisation.

Turkish war planes also bombed to PKK camps in Iraq from June 23, 2015.  There were expactations about ‘solution process’ in Turkey. It was announced to public opinion since 2012. AKP the ruling party declared many “Kurdish openings” from 2005. Some intelligence officials have gone to Imrali island which is the island of PKK terrorist organisations’ head’s imprisoned. The government denied the bargainings with the terror organisation, but also made a collaboration with some inteclectualls and show stars for persuading the citizens. They were called as ‘akil adamlar’. But what was the ‘solution process’. There was not a clear answer. Some of the group members made different explanations. AKP underlined a new policy, promoted a structural changing in the constitution. Federalism or an autonomy offers  were discussed among the journalists and academicians. But there were no official package. The expactations reached the top point before the June 7, 2015 elections. Nevruz[ii] 2015 (March 21, 2015) would be the origin point for the last decisions. Ocalan’s text were read in Diyarbakir meeting in Nevruz.  But president Erdogan stopped the process, first of all he has criticized ‘Dolmabahce mutabakati’[iii] in February 2015. Dolmabahce and Nevruz would indicate the new step in the ‘solution process’. Erdogan used ‘nationalist discourse’ during the election campaign. The main obstacle was HDP’s location in Turkey Grand National Assembly (TBMM) for AKP’s catching the simple majority. AKP’s target was to gain constitutional majority for the presidency system, but after AKP tried to reach the simple majority. HDP has gained 13% in the elections and won 80 MP’s. It was the ending of AKP’s ruling era and Erdoogan’s authotarian situation.

June 7 elections created the new political spectrum but the parliament’s arithmetic and nationalist MHP’s attitude necessitated a cabinet with AKP. In spite of the political vote losings (9%), AKP got the 40% and 258 MP’s in TBMM (total 550). According the constitution, a new cabinet must be found until August 20, otherwise a new early election would come to the agenda.

PKK terrorist organisations regional wing KCK announced the ending of the ‘solution process’ and so called cease fire on June 11, ISIS killed Turkish citizens on June 20, PKK killed Turkish soldier on June 20,  ISIS killed Turkish soldier on June 23, Turkish Armed Forces started to strike ISIS in Syria and PKK in Iraq. Also Turkish police institution made operations against to PKK and ISIS. PKK attacks started against to officials and citizens again.  Also pro Kurdish demonstrations are being realized massively.

Can the situation be only called war on terrorism? Why the war on terrorism be delayed to July 2015? What is the next step to ISIS, would be a ground intervention against to terrorist organisation? PYD is a wing of PKK in Syria. PYD has three regions in Syria close to Turkish border, and ISIS’ existence is seemed the last obstacle for completing the Kurdish corridor in the country.

What is the calculations of domestic policies? How can the Middle Eastern balances be commented in that context? And how can Turkey pass this crisis with the ruling party’s insolvent approaches…

By: Asst. Prof. Dr. Deniz Tansi- Political Sciencist

[i] The Guardian, “Turkey sends in jets as Syria’s agony spills over every border”, July 26, 2015,  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/26/isis-syria-turkey-us

[ii] Nevruz is a public tradition in the Middle East and Center Asia for welcoming the Spring.

[iii] Mutabakat means reconciling

About Deniz Tansi

Yeditepe University Economic and Administrative Sciences Faculty Public Administration Department