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The deep Kurdish divide between Turkey's PM and president

The disagreement between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and conservative pro-government Zaman daily's columnist Fehmi Koru came under the spotlight of the Turkish media at the weekend.

Fehmi Koru said the reason for the situation emanated from a disagreement over the Kurdish issue that exists in Turkey's southeastern region after he defended the freedom to both 'criticize the prime minister’, and ‘be criticized by the prime minister’.

 

It may seem a simple excuse and might not even be a consideration if Koru's political stance is overlooked. The outcome of considering this issue so simply could be major mistake.

 

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The Kurdish issue has caused many governments to lose their positions of power.

 

Some politicians shoot from behind the military, others use the army as sub contractors, and another thought he could bravely save the situation by heroically saying... All of them are lost in the same black hole.

 

The ruling Justice and Development Party, who took lessons from the past, established balanced relations with the new administration of the Turkish Armed Forces.

 

Within these relations, political responsibility was left to the government while the authority for military operations was given to the chief of General Staff.

 

The majority of you may hold a contrary view, but the things have started to improve, not worsen.

 

This closer relationship between the army and government also had the affect of limiting the room for maneuvering of certain parties.

 

For example, sect leader Fethullah Gulen's community is very active in Turkey's southeast in recent years. This is not a secret, it is reported in newspapers. "In an Internet message last year, leader Fethullah Gulen recommended to his follows to send the meat from their religious sacrifices to the country’s southeast regions. After this recommendation hundreds of thousands of sacrifices were sent to those in need in Turkey's southeast." (Mehmet Kamis, Zaman Daily, Oct 14, 2007)

 

The Gulen community's politics to expand in the region through building schools and organizing gatherings is also not a secret. Gulen's southeast balance sheet written by Huseyin Gulerce, a Zaman daily columnist, is a striking example of this. In his column he says, "... Who helped the east and southeast in this context? Who rushed to the provinces of Van, Diyarbakir, Hakkari, Batman, in an effort to put out the fires and prevent the region's people from joining in with terrorist acts through his schools and reading rooms? Who ran to distribute sacrificial meat, home by home, on the very first day of the religious Sacrifice Holiday, before even celebrating the day with his family." (Oct. 13, 2007)

 

In short, the community that presents an Islamic alternative, forming a joint front against the terrorist organization PKK and the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society, cannot be expected to be pleased about closer government and military relations. It could even be said that it would consider peace in Diyarbakir a threat to its existence.

 

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Fehmi Koru's stance is also important when the issue is analyzed from prime minister’s perspective. Even if this situation does not exist, it gives the impression that Erdogan is concerned Koru's reaction could be perceived as a reflection of Turkish President Abdullah Gul's stance.

 

At this point, the word "perceived" needs to be underlined... Even if it is untrue, such an impression is hugely disadvantageous and very dangerous.

 

The reason is that the perception of a disagreement between the prime minister and the president would make AKP supporters uncomfortable.

 

In fact, I heard that similar topics were discussed between Erdogan and those close to him during their dinner gatherings.

 

 

 

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