Turkey Analysis: How Can Ankara’s “2071” Vision See the Kurdish Issue?

Enduring America – 18. 12. 2012 | Ali Yenidunya in EA Middle East and Turkey

Speaking at the Parliament last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denounced the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Syria:

    Those Syrian Kurds, Syrian Arabs, Syrian Turkmens resisting against the cruelty are with us whereas those collaborating with cruelty, such as PYD, those collaborating with Bashar Assad are against us! After the attempt to detach the PYD forces from other Syrian Kurds, Davutoglu lectured to deputies on the next part of his “normalisation of history” module:

    The main method difference between us [between the government and the opposition] is this: Today, the history of humanity is flowing with a great momentum, major historical transformations are occurring. Our reading is this: While these historical transformations are taking place; a country, a state, a nation that wants to be the subject itself in the future, cannot be satisfied with watching this historical transformation. With the thought of ‘these risks could emerge’, it cannot watch that historical flow as an ordinary object.

Davutoglu, who argues for the “necessity” of a country claiming the future by drawing from the past, continued: “History is not a phenomenon you can run after and catch. History can only be understood if you run inside and precede it.”

Then, Davutoglu accused the opposition of an “orientalist” viewpoint, losing sight of necessities with a mis-guided picture of the Middle East.

    We want to carry out a foreign policy through embracing the humanity and to walk along with the Balcans, the Caucasians, the Middle East; with all of which we sided for the better!

    You have criticized our refugee policy and that we opened our door to our Syrian brothers and sisters. Because you are looking at the region with an orientalist approach, from outside. You are not sharing Syrians’ pains. We, on the other hand, are watching with burning hearts! Davutoglu concluded his romantic realism: “You will see the state’s rise by 2023 and will already be living inside a global power as honourable citizens by 2071.”

Why 2071? Just hours before Davutoglu’s speech, his premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan was talking in Turkish province of Konya. Calling on young people to get married and have at least three children for a “dynamic Turkey”, Erdogan said: “You are going to raise the generation of 1071.”

What happened in 1071? In Malazgirt, the Seljuq Turks won against the Byzantine Empire and, as Turkish education books teach, “the doors of Anatolia were opened to Turks”. Then Turks continued towards the West and the Ottomans were founded by the end of the 13th century, ready to march into their glorious future.

In the age of globalisation, Davutoglu’s vision is not that of an empire through swords. Instead, Ankara’s ascendancy is through soft power. And that brings in the Kurdish problem.

Last week, the Assistant General Secretary of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Omer Celik, said they were “representing all of the Kurds in the region”. Put into the 1071-and-2071 context of Erdogan and Davutoglu, that project wants to draw a clear line between “good Kurds” and “bad Kurds”. Just as the proper Syrian Kurdish communities will be detached from the miscreant PYD, so Turkey’s Kurds will be separated from the insurgent PKK.

However, the pro-Kurdish opposition Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has not taken the past-and-present lecture. The BDP’s Sirri Surreyya Onder told Parliament on Saturday, “Kurds don’t want brotherhood; they want equality!”. Colleague Ayla Akat said on Sunday that the poverty in Turkey has become that of Kurds and women, as the Government tried to break the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella for the ethnic movement.

On 28 December, it is the first anniversary of the Uludere (Roboski) Massacre, when 34 Kurdish civilians, most of whom were under 18 years of age were killed by Turkish F-16 jets. The Government has not apologised nor has it found those responsible for the violence. On the contrary, Erdogan continues to antagonise: “If you want compensation, here it is”; “I believe that every abortion is an Uludere”; “Who can know from that distance whether he is Ahmet or Mehmet!”.

Davutoglu and Erdogan might be saying “2071”, but many in their country may be thinking, “What about 2013?”