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  HOME PAGE 22/01/2022 14:49 
13.05.2013 11:35 News >> Who Is Behind Reyhanlı ?

Who Is Behind Reyhanlı ?

The heinous terrorist attack in Reyhanlı came at a very critical juncture for Turkey.

The heinous terrorist attack in Reyhanlı came at a very critical juncture for Turkey. In both domestic and foreign policy, Turkey is going through historic times with potentially deeply destabilizing aspects. What was the main objective of the attack?

The fact that Turkish authorities quickly identified the Syrian regime as the main culprit does not solve all the problems. Two different but ultimately connected objectives come to mind. One is related to the Kurdish peace process at home. The other is connected to foreign policy, particularly as it relates to Turkey's contentious relations with Damascus, as well as with Baghdad and Tehran. To be sure, the information that Syria is behind the attack emphasizes "external" dynamics and put less tension on the Kurdish domestic peace process. A provocation that would have derailed and probably "ended" the rapprochement between the government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was the much more feared alternative. Everyone knows that the Kurdish peace process is a high risk reward strategy. If this Kurdish opening fails like previous ones in 2005 or 2009 the consequences will be much more severe because of heightened expectations. No one wants to see such an outcome.

The government has indeed invested tremendous political capital into a peace process aimed at putting an end to PKK terrorism. If successful, this peace process will fundamentally alter the foundational principles of the republic. The nature and definition of Turkish citizenship, as it is defined in the constitution, will have to change. References to ethnic Turkish identity of the state and its citizens will be eliminated in favor of a "civic" and more "multicultural" understanding of citizenship. The education system, based strictly on education in Turkish language, will also have to change. And finally, the public administration system, based on a centralized unitary state, where Ankara makes all the decisions, will also have to come to an end. A more decentralized system, potentially along federal lines with elected governors, will have to emerge. As if all these radical changes are not complicated enough, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also doing his best to push for a presidential system that will put an end to the parliamentary regime.

This heavy political agenda amounts to a political revolution. The Kemalist paradigm of the country is on the verge of being replaced by a post-Kemalist consensus. If successful, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government will be remembered by future historians as not only changing the nature of civil-military relations -- by putting an end to the system of military tutelage -- but the same government will also be seen as the one that solved the Kurdish problem by ending the assimilation of Kurds into the Turkish identity. Turkey will have to become multicultural and decentralized, with a clear Turkish and Kurdish duality in the education and public administration system. Such achievements don't come easy. It was entirely plausible that a terrorist attack would derail the peace process. It is therefore not surprising that the Turkish authorities were rather quick to point fingers at Damascus, partly to spare the Kurdish peace process. Had the terrorist attack been connected to fringe Kurdish groups willing to derail the peace process, the Turkish nationalist backlash would have been impossible to contain. This is why Syria as the suspected enemy is the more "preferable" scenario. But one should not underestimate the interplay between the Kurdish opening at home and Turkey's Iraq and Syria strategy. Syria may very well want to derail Turkey's Kurdish peace process as well. The reason is simple. Ankara finally came to a visionary strategic conclusion that it must first solve its own Kurdish problem if it wants to have a more effective approach to Iraq and Syria. It is not in the interest of Baghdad, Damascus or Tehran to see a Turkish state that has "solved" its Kurdish problem because a Turkish state in peace with its own Kurds would have a much easier time dealing with Kurdish autonomy in Iraq and in Syria. Yes, in the Middle East everything is interrelated.

ÖMER TAŞPINAR (Cihan/Today's Zaman)



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