Guardian of the nation. Why does divided Turkish society support a military operation in Syrian Afrin?

If you, when dealing with the Turkish democracy, want to know political process, you can investigate public opinion about the nation's president Recep Erdogan. The figure of the head of the Turkish state does not leave anyone indifferent: any topic of political life in Turkey, which becomes the object of attention of this charismatic and ambitious politician, automatically becomes another point of social split and lively discussions.

Already two years Turkey with state measures is struggling with supporters of a terrorist organization that supposedly stood behind an unsuccessful coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Despite the fact that radical measures are justified by security interests and the scale of threats, a significant part of the Turkish society thinks that today Erdogan has a legitimate reason for once again to suppress the dissent votes and put the courts under its control.

Another hotly discussed issue in Turkey is the reform of education. The government has been trying for several years to reform the school system, taking into account the need to train a highly skilled workforce in the country for an increasingly globalized economy. It would seem that in Turkey, these reforms should enjoy broad support in society, because all would benefit from the success of reforms. But even here one can observe discontent among the broad masses: government reform, as often as possible, is nothing more than the purposeful destruction of secular education.

Erdogan's foreign policy is no less discussed in Turkish society. Six years after the beginning of Ankara's active intervention in the civil war in neighbouring Syria, Erdogan, the main supporter of Turkey's military intervention in the conflict, can not boast of any serious diplomatic victories. Turkey is forced to provide more than 3 million Syrian refugees at its own expense, and the main object of criticism of the Turkish government, Syrian President Bashar Assad is still in power.

Surprisingly, against the background of such a strong polarization of the Turkish society, the military operation in Syria, launched on January 20 against Syrian Kurds in the Afrin area, was supported by the majority of Turkish citizens. According to the poll of the Turkish company ORC, 80% of the respondents supported the military operation "Olive Branch" in Syria. Government support was also expressed by the main opposition party of the country.

It seems that the operation caused both citizens and political forces to forget about the disputes and unite around the leadership of the country in an hour of difficulty. Obviously, the international situation played a significant role in this. The Turkish government has been trying for several years from the US to stop cooperation with the Democratic Union Party, a Syrian political organization that operates under the leadership of the Turkish terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party. The fact that the US, despite the fact of close ties between the Syrian and Turkish Kurdish terrorist elements, continues to arm and train the Syrian Kurds is a particular irritation for the Turkish citizen and the leadership of Turkey.

The US position on the issue of supporting the Syrian Kurds is based on assessing the ability of the Turkish leadership to act adequately in the interests of Western partners in both domestic and foreign policy. For the US, Turkey Erdogan is moving farther away from the standards of mature democracy. Any cooperation in Syria between Washington and Ankara should not lead to the legitimization of an authoritarian turn in Turkey, that is why today cooperation is reduced to zero.

The plans announced by the American administration several days ago to create border troops from among the Syrian Kurds became the last straw for Ankara. Against this background, the actions of the government of Turkey began to be determined by the so-called. Sevres syndrome, deep-rooted suspicion among the Turkish political elites as to the real intentions of the Western powers who allegedly want to actually split the unitary Turkish state, using ethnic groups and minorities of the country. The discontent of the Turkish leadership is also aggravated by the inability of Ankara to convey to the US leadership and the world community its own viewpoint regarding the degree of threat the Syrian Kurdish organization represents for the national security of Turkey.

Given the high public support for the military operation, the Turkish authorities easily suppress any criticism directed against military action. The main front of the fight against "accomplices of terrorism" unfolded in the Internet sphere, one of the few places where today there is a discussion about the political problems of the country. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkey, more than 300 people were arrested during the first week of the operation on suspicion of "propagating the ideas of a terrorist organization". In the service of the state apparatus there is also legislation, which contains rather vague definitions of what this propaganda is.

Go and own resources of the state. On the eve of the operation, the imams of the state mosques were ordered to read special prayers and sermons containing the words of support for the military operation. In public statements of the policy from the ruling party, first of all, Erdogan himself, began to mention the historical past of Turkey, comparing the military operation in Africa with the episodes of the War of Independence of 1919-1923. During the speeches before the Turkish nationalists, the authorities turn to Turkic myths: the history of the Red Apple (tour Kızıl Elma), the mystical object, the symbol of prosperity and greatness of the ancient Turks, for which brave wars go to distant lands to conquer.

Obviously, in the reaction of the Turkish society to the military operation and high support ratings, there are processes that are important for Russia. A significant part of the Turkish society is dissatisfied with the political situation in the country. Everyone recognizes that the level of polarization has reached previously unheard-of heights, while no one shares any optimism that the existing power will be able to reconcile different social groups. In addition, the country does not have a healthy atmosphere of discussion on the most important issues, and any criticism is suppressed under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The situation of the country in the region also does not cause joy to most Turks. The country's main military and political ally renders direct support to the terrorists, who then kill Turkish soldiers. Turkey's impotence as a regional player is also evident in neighboring Iraq, where Iraqi Kurds last year also ignored Ankara's objections and decided to hold a referendum.

Loud foreign policy actions allow society not only to forget about problems and social schism, but also to feel to each indifferent citizen the pride of his country, which can operate in the world independently, even against plans to world powers.

An interesting paradox is observed. Support for such foreign policy actions is certainly used by the ruling party of Turkey to mobilize the electorate: in political lobbies, it is increasingly said that the authorities plan not to wait for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2019, deciding to hold them this spring. Thus, broad support for the population of a military operation is transformed, in the absence of public self-reflection, in support of the authorities, whose unsuccessful foreign policy in many ways caused the need for such military operations.

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