Turkey: Cleavage, Therefore Not Suitable for Any Partnership!

Rebwar Reshid

By Rebwar Rashed:

Turkish society, its political parties and groups glide more and more into conflict. Turkey is not just fragile, but it is also too paralyzed to understand the reality and to decide on important questions. The situation of “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” in Turkey has thrown many issues, mainly the Kurdish issue, into ignorant, unserious and irresponsible hands.

Kobani is the battlefield that has unmasked Turkey. That’s why those who struggle to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question somehow are in debt to Kobani. In order to understand and to contribute to the question, it’s helpful to go through the list of what the Turks really want.


They want very much to become a member of EU, but without having to commit themselves to the fulfillment of the “accession criteria/Copenhagen criteria” which states clear requirements for membership, among them, the political criteria: “stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities”.(1)

The political parties in Turkey want to be a part of the European family but each of them has its own different agenda of disrespecting human rights, denying the national and democratic rights of Kurdish people, ignoring and abominating the issue of recognizing the Armenians genocide and so on. Turkish political parties have quite different goals, obligations, approaches and methods and they lack a national consensus, albeit that they try to avoid this from being discovered.


In their membership of NATO, the Turks have been squeezing the West for military, social and economic benefits since 1952, including getting to be allowed to exterminate Kurds, which, unfortunately, they’ve managed to do. At the same time, at least since 2003, they have been dragging their feet and refuse to be a part of a coalition to help the people of Iraq and now Syria, to live in democracy and freedom.

In the Persian Gulf War, 1990-1991, Turkey had many pre-conditions for being a part of “The Allied coalition” which was forged to throw Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait.(2)  Even back then Turkey´s two main concerns were about Kurdish issue. The first concern was to get a guarantee that the “Iraqi Kurds” would get only a humanitarian help, not political. The second concern was that the “Safe Haven” would not protect the PKK while, at the same time, demanding more military hardware for its fight against the PKK guerilla forces.

Turkey´s main argument then was that a Turkish full and whole-hearted support to the coalition would divide the Islam world. Mr. Ozal, then the president of Turkey, made efforts to persuade the Turkish opposition that “There is no profit without risk”(3) and that Turkey had no choice than to engage. As the matter of fact, since 1991, Turkey has been demanding too much “profit” without any “risks”.

The Incirlik NATO air base near the southern city of Adana is just there with no noteworthy functions, this in the middle of fierce battles between the Coalition and the Islamic State and as a Kurdish city is destroyed to ruins. This is indeed a dilemma that NATO is facing.

Back then in 1991, there were tremendous divisions between the opposition political parties and the government of Turkey. The cleavage has become coarser. It seems that Mr. Ozal was to be the last Turkish president who worked for real close ties with the US. The crack between the political establishments in Turkey is getting bigger by every day since then.


Turkey absolutely doesn’t want any successful Kurdish political status around Turkey´s border. Any successful Kurdish political status encourages Kurds in Turkey to insist on their political demands for national and democratic rights. This has become Turkish national dilemma. The opposition, for instance the CHP, is even against Mr. Ocalan´s efforts towards solving the Kurdish issue by peaceful means and criticises the government for the “Resolution Process” despite its hollowness.(4)


Turkey is not just trying to cheat Kurds by something called a “Resolution Process”, but it is also trying to cover up and to legalize the lies and dishonesties committed by Turkish governments against Kurdish people during the last 91 years.

For instance:

  • In all Turkish documents there is a talk about 30 years of war between the government and the Kurds. But the Turks have waged an uncivilized physical and denial war against Kurdish people since 1923.
  • Seeing the PKK/ KCK and now even the PYD as “terrorist” organization. Such accusations have been directed at the BDP and HDP too in recent days, while at the same time saying that there is a “Resolution Process” going on.

The Turks have great difficulty in understanding the imbalance between the state-terrorism of Turkey and the liberation movement of Kurds, between a barbaric occupation mentality that they practice in Kurdistan and Kurdish peaceful efforts and will for freedom.

This is indeed a problem. There is not a middle way of understanding between Kurds and Turks. Turks in addition have an inferiority problem, they are not originally from the Middle East and therefore see every single Assyrian, Armenian, Jew, Greek, Kurd and others as a potential “danger” to their existence. This explains the Turks schizophrenic disorder and their panic attack as soon as there is a dialogue about “the others’ rights”, for instance in the case of Mr. Ahmad Kaya.(5)

This Kurd phobia, or rather antipathy and irrational fear of everything which belongs to the origins of the Middle East, is quite interesting to be studied.

Turkey, for instance, would go wild if the question of the Armenian genocide or the Assyrians’ confiscated properties is taken up. Inability to discuss important political issues and lack of self-criticism makes Turks incapable of being constructive in social- and political interrelations and to understand the “other´s” right to live, to freedom and to independence.

Therefore many Turks, if not literally all of them, see the “Resolution Process” as hollow, but [also] are happy over this [hollowness] because of their intense dislike of the AKP’s Resolution Process, which they say is treasonous (6)  and because they simply can’t understands the Kurds call for freedom.(7)

It´s hard to explain Turkish people´s stance in seeing a crippled and hollow Resolution Process as “treasonous”. Hitherto the “Resolution Process” has only saved Turkish lives, not Kurds. The Kurds get killed, imprisoned, harassed, displaced and deported every day since 1923.

In order to understand this “treasonous”- thinking, we must understand the Turkish state-establishment in 1923, and also understand the person Ataturk, the CHP/ Turkish Social Democratic Populist Party, the MHP, the Ultra Nationalist Party, the AKP, a Salafist-Islamist Nationalist Party and many others things in Turkey.

Since 31st May 2010 (due to the Salafist-Islamist Nationalist ideology which was behind the Mavi Marmara incident (8) ) the Turks accuses Israel and the Jews of being behind every single misdeed in Turkey and in the world. The conspiracy theory is the only method of work in Turkey.

In his speech in the province of Bayburt on 11th October, when there were popular mass protests in Kurdistan and many Turkish cities such as Istanbul and Izmir to protest Turkey´s intervention to help ISIS in order to break the resistance of Kobani, Erdogan called the Kurdish protesters “hoodlums”. Those protesters were literally millions of Kurdish kids, adults, girls, boys, women, men and old people and they were from every single place in Kurdistan/ Turkey.

The result of Erdogan’s “hoodlums” mentality was that there were at least 40 Kurdish deaths, hundreds of injuries and thousands of detainees. Kurdish people pay a high price for their struggle for freedom. Erdogan´s speech is full of lies, provocations, dishonesty and irresponsibility.(9)

Why is Erdogan so mad, desperate, confused and paranoid, one can ask?

For the last eight years Erdogan has unsuccessfully done everything to be an “Islamist Ataturk”, a national-Islamist father-figure. To liberate “Palestine” and take back “Jerusalem”, to cheat Kurds and impose surrender on them, to take over Syria and half of Iraq with a “zero-problem”- policy with neighbors, to never solve the Cyprus issue, to be an over-demanding “partner” in NATO etc.

Erdogan has failed in every single agenda.

In short, since Prime Minister Erdogan was elected to office in 2003, Turkey has been doing everything to stitch together “Sultanic” ambitions with democracy and progress.

It doesn´t work and this makes Erdogan and his fellowship angry.

“Clearly, however, these steps are not enough, and Kurdish hatred for Erdogan is increasing due to his stance on Kobane in particular. He will most likely resort to accusing Kurds of being ungrateful and aggravate matters further. It is in his nature to scratch at wounds rather than trying to heal them”(10)

That explains too all the contradictions which build up from different approaches, speeches and statements made by Mr. Erdogan and Co.(11)

This can also explains Turkey´s decision to “freeze” the so-called “contact” with Mr. Ocalan. (12)

Mr. Ocalan had warned the Turkish authority before not to use the so-called Resolution process to win time and he has said that he doesn’t accept the so-called “ladder” and the “Let me do this first and then you do this”. He has asked again and again for respecting of “mutual interest”. (13)


Erdogan plays the role of a prime minister, not a president. This has been noticed since the first day he took the office on 28th August as the 12th president of Turkey. Erdogan thrives more as a prime minister, not as a president. As a president he has only informal rights. As a prime minister he can continue to be a boss in the ministry cabinet.

The Turkish opposition political parties don´t like this of course, nor do the NGOs and other interests in Turkey. This makes the split even greater.


The fight between the AKP and the Gulenists (led by the self-styled Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gülen) has created another cleavage in Turkish Islam. Once Erdoganists and Gulenists were circles of the same chain, now they are enemies. Mr. Erdogan used and exploited Gulen and his supporters fully in the first years of the AKP establishment. Once, Mr. Erdogan was “one of Gulen’s most prominent sympathizers”(14); a few years later – due to the power struggle and conflict over sharing the spoils of their conquests and the various corruptions which they blame each other for – and they were accusing each other of treason. Mr. Erdogan became clear in his stance toward the Gulenists: “I and my friends will continue to fight against these elements that threaten our national security for as long as I live”.(15)

There is also a split among the AKP leadership and members concerning many issues including the corruption within the leadership.


Noteworthy to mention, the AKP and the Gulenists together made a cornerstone in the fight against the Kemalists. Turkish people are divided roughly between a Pan-Kemalist ideology and a Turkish Pan-Salafist ideology. There are of course various leftists who are against both Pan-ideologies.


The Army usually represented the Pan-Kemalists, but since 2002 and especially after 2008, Erdogan has successfully cleared out dangerous Pan-Kemalist military figures. It is the same inside the Turkey’s Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).


The cleavage between the Pan-Kemalists is tremendous too. The CHP, Turkish Populist Social Democrats (Republican People’s Party), and the MHP, the Turkish ultra-nationalists (National Action Party/ Grey Wolves), have always been in a secret relationship but due to different reasons are also divided. Both the CHP and MHP are fascistic organizations and they are directly responsible for the atrocities against the Armenians, Laz, Cherkes, Greeks, Assyrians and Kurds: the CHP from 1923 and MHP from 1969.


The Turkish left, which is far from homogeneous but rather divided sharply, is against the whole establishment, using much of Marxism-Leninism and Capitalism/ Imperialism discourses.


In the field of religion there is also a great cleavage between the Sunni Turks and the Alewi Turks. The Sunni Turks, the same as their Arabic brothers, have always held the political power while the Alewis have been marginalized harshly. The Turkish Salafi-Islamism represented by the AKP is in sharp opposition to Kurdistani Islam. The AKP sees any Kurdish Islamism/ Kurdistani Islam as a plot against the AKP without being able to clarify why there can be Arabic, Persian, Pakistani or a Turkish Islam, but not a Kurdish one.

Almost all Turkish political parties fail to understand that the homogeneous Turkish ethnicity imposed by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, which has lasted 91 years, is no longer tenable and there must be a real opening.

The Turkish government tries to blame Qandil/ BDP and Mr. Ocalan for being unwilling to secure a political solution. However, by just taking a quick look at the recent history we see the exact opposite is the case. What is happening in Turkey at the moment is the collapse of the old homogenous and static definition of the Turkish nation. There is a civil war awaiting in Turkey between Turks on the one hand, and between Turks and other nationalities on the other hand. Turkey might prove to be less stable than other countries in the neighboring area.


[1] http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/policy/glossary/terms/accession-criteria_en.htm

[2] http://edi[2] tion.cnn.com/2013/09/15/world/meast/gulf-war-fast-facts/

[3] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/chp-leader-warns-peace-process-with-ocalan-as-counterpart-doomed-to-fail.aspx?pageID=238&nID=73781&NewsCatID=338

[4] On 10 February 1999 during the televised annual music awards ceremony, SHOW TV, at which he was to be named Musician of the Year, Kaya speaks about his Kurdish background and says that he plans to produce music in Kurdish. He announced that he had recorded a song in Kurdish. Following his announcement, he risks to be lynched by Turkish intellectuals and celebrities and then by the government and the massive opposition from Turkish people and celebrities, led by Serdar Ortaç. This was an incident which led to a prosecution case which made him leave Turkey and dies in France.

[5] Before February the 10th, the Turks saw Mr. Kaya as a Turkish “national icon”. When he said he is a “Kurd”, they saw the weakness and the fragility of Turkish identity.

[6] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-has-to-be-honest-about-the-peace-process.aspx?pageID=449&nID=73235&NewsCatID=416

[7] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/both-pkk-isil-are-dangerous-turks-say.aspx?pageID=238&nID=73791&NewsCatID=341

[8] In the matter of fact there are many surveys that show that the Turkish people have the lack to understand other people’s struggle for freedom and respect.

[9] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-president-erdogan-pledges-to-bring-vandals-to-account.aspx?pageID=238&nID=72872&NewsCatID=338

[10] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/despondency-marks-republic-day-for-many-.aspx?pageID=449&nID=73629&NewsCatID=416

[11] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-disagrees-with-us-russia-iran-on-syria-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=73466&NewsCatID=338

[12] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/both-pkk-isil-are-dangerous-turks-say.aspx?pageID=238&nID=73791&NewsCatID=341

[13] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/is-there-consensus-on-the-peace-process-road-map-or-not-.aspx?pageID=449&nID=73405&NewsCatID=513

[14] http://en.fgulen.com/press-room/columns/2985-turkish-cleric-offers-food-for-thought

[15] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-11/erdogan-seeks-to-vanquish-opponent-gulen-in-global-fight.html

Rebwar Rashed has a Ph.D. degree in Political Science. He has translated several books into Kurdish and also written many articles in Kurdish and English about the Kurdistan National Liberation Movement, human rights, anti-Semitism, equality between the sexes and ethnicities, and the need for a democratic and peaceful struggle.

4 Responses to Turkey: Cleavage, Therefore Not Suitable for Any Partnership!
  1. Amy L Beam
    November 4, 2014 | 18:38

    Dr. Rashed has stated crystal clear the problem with AKP’s and Erdogan’s vitriolic hatred of and lies about Kurds. Turkey’s action clearly demonstrate they are not interested in peace with the Kurds. Turkey continues naively to think it can crush 20 million Kurds.

  2. Alan
    November 5, 2014 | 03:09

    How is it possible for democratic country to seeks full membership in EU while it does not grant its own minorities rights? Apparently, an uprising is necessary in Turkey, too, supported by US and Barzani. Another solution is for Kurds to go for their independence.

  3. Kuvan Bamarny
    November 5, 2014 | 12:25

    Past one decade Turkey Has changed political system from the rule by secular nationalist ,Kemalists and military dictators to the rule by another nationalist dictators who wear the mask of religion.

    The difference of treatment between secular nationalist,Kemalistsand military dictators and religious nationalists towards the cause of Kurds in Turkey is, kamilists used to completely deny the identity and rights of Kurds, whereas the religious nationalist Turks do recognize few of rights of the Kurd but under the condition that all Kurds must knowledge and compromise that they are first Turks and than Moslems and than Kurd which it means you are a Kurd but a third class citizen.

    The majority Kurds of Turkey are Moslems,but than there is something different that Kurds have than Turks which are called identity ,culture langue and values.these values and norms are different than religious beliefs which Turks are not welling to recognize and let the Kurds have and practice them in Turkey.

    Court of Justice should decide whether Kurds are allowed to practice their values and norms in Turkey or not ,which apparently doesn’t exist in Turkey.

  4. Jan Best de Vries
    November 9, 2014 | 15:49

    Dr. Rebwar Rashed has made a thorough analysis of Turkish politics between 1923 and 2014, politics which by discriminating minorities of all kinds make Turkey as a terrorist state not acceptable for a membership of the EU. Now that Syria and Iraq as states will fall apart in the near future, Turkey’s friendly politics to newcomer ISIS over the last two years shows that it is also an unreliable member of NATO.

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