In retrospect, now I realize how much Turkey has changed in the last 17-years. . .
When AK Party came to power, relations with the USA were the most challenging ones among the multilateral problems it faced. To be more precise, when the USA under the George W. Bush administration was getting prepared to invade a neighboring country of Turkey (Iraq) on the grounds that it posed a ‘security threat’ according to the assessment of the September 11th attacks (2001), Turkey was expected to facilitate the American military deployment and take part in the invasion.
Public opinion in Turkey was not ready to accept this.
Our media in general -the ones supportive of AK Party in particular- opposed this fiercely.
The opposition, particularly CHP under the leadership of Deniz Baykal, was unwilling to allow a military adventure.
It seemed that considerable number of MPs in the ranks of the AK Party group in the parliament weren’t convinced of the operation either. Important leading figures of the party, including Turkish Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç, believed that Turkey’s participation in the invasion would be wrong.
The result: The Turkish Parliament refused the March 1 resolution which allowed foreign troops onto our territory and participation of the Turkish army in cross-border operations (2003).
Let bygones be bygones
These days on which AK Party is getting prepared to celebrate its 17th year in power, the situation is dramatically different.
Now, Turkey itself wants to carry out a military intervention to a neighboring country (Syria) on the grounds that the presence of a number of terrorist organizations there pose a ‘security threat’ to Turkey. Because there are American troops in the region to be intervened, President Tayyip Erdoğan wanted President Donald Trump to allow the Turkish army to operate in the region.
Almost whole of the Turkish media -those supportive of AK Party in particular- are in favor of the intervention. An important part of media members who opposed the March 1 resolution at one time -including some of the media figures who enthusiastically supported the resolution- have been purged off from the media. Present-day commentators in newspapers and television channels -including the ones who opposed the March 1 resolution in the past- now defend the military intervention.
The opposition as a whole -with the exception of HDP-, including CHP led by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu– give support to the intervention, and no dissenting voice has been heard from the parliamentary group of AK Party.
None of the first period AK Party MPs who voted against the March 1 resolution has a seat in the parliament today. Bülent Arınç, the then Turkish Parliament Speaker who played an important role in the rejection of the resolution is now a member of the High Advisory Council of Presidency, but we don’t know where he stands about the intervention this time.
The public are in a deathly silence.
In such a situation, what was expected to happen happened in the evening hours yesterday, and the parliament passed the resolution allowing a cross-border military operation through support of AK Party, MHP, CHP and İyi Party.
There is no legal or political obstacle at home for sending Turkish troops to Syria now.
What is being waited for to initiate the operation, then?
What is being waited to be intervened is completion of the discussion on the matter in the USA and withdrawal of the last US troop from the region.
We may say that the intervention will be carried out soon.
The opposition opposes to something wrong
Spokespeople of the opposition in the parliament contrived some sort of critical stand, and criticized the government to remain silent about the ‘arrogant’ statements of Donald Trump about Turkey, who decided to withdraw American troops from the region to make way for the Turkish intervention after listening to words of President Tayyip Erdoğan on the phone.
In fact, this is rather an insignificant detail in the whole picture which could well be ignored.
Donald Trump is not a usual statesman, even not a usual man. He lacks even most basic information about any topic, and his mouth knows no bounds. If this had not been the case, would he have responded to a question about the withdrawal of US troops from the region by saying, “Turks and Kurds have been in a state of war for centuries.” (Which is wrong.) As if this wasn’t enough, he added: “This is what historians tell us.” And, would he have uttered such words soon after he praised the Kurdish PYD/YPG militants to the skies?
Americans must have started to realize how badly their president whom they chose three years ago lacks skills of presidency that 58 percent of the American people support the investigation of impeachment, according to the results of a reliable public opinion search company released yesterday.
Trump’s sudden decision for the withdrawal of US troops from Syria appears to have been as effective as the claims of attempt for misconduct in office in order to gain personal political advantage, the ground for the impeachment, in the changing attitude of the US citizens.
Turkey is in the agenda of the American public once again. That was the case in 2003 when the March 1 resolution was rejected in the Turkish parliament, and now in 2019, Turkey is again being widely discussed as the American people’s attitude towards Trump suddenly changes these days.
Two topics set the agenda in US television channels recently: the investigation of impeachment and the imminent Turkish military intervention to Syria. As people who follow the American media know, US commentators use rather a negative tongue about Turkey, AK Party and President Erdoğan. . .
[I occasionally take a look at Arabic television channels. Majority of these channels show the possible Turkish military operation as ‘invasion’, and depict such an attempt as a sign of so-called ‘neo-Ottomanism’. In the Syrian television, our country is mentioned as ‘the enemy’.]
This is the state of affairs today.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on October 9, 2019]