When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Turkey Right Now: Awful Government, Awful Opposition
Nuray Mert

ISTANBUL — The country is at a dead end, and everything is a mess.

The main Turkish opposition, if such a thing really exists, is still unable to clearly express where it stands on the Middle East, foreign policy in general, a new constitution and the debates about the presidential system. Certain opposition groups still dance around such issues as the corruption and smuggling trial of Riza Sarraf, the Kurdish question, the Obama-Erdogan meeting and the country's looming economic crisis. On the other hand, the Kurdish movement believes that politics is based on how loud you are, and are betting that the present chaos in the country will somehow weaken the ruling administration.

The Kurds think the government will have no choice but to sit at the table again for restarting the negotiations. If not, then it is "the peoples' revolution" time. Others think the government will either come to its senses or lose power by gradually getting exhausted as it faces more problems, at home and abroad. All factions of the opposition seem to be counting on a strategy whereby they will win when the government loses.

Turkey, however, is now on a path in which everybody will lose more, and it will remain so unless a serious exit plan can be found.

Have no doubt that the weakened government will be more oppressive, more cruel and more lawless. If not, it will write its own laws and enforce them. The government will enhance a policy of confrontation instead of negotiations as the Kurds' room for maneuver diminishes by the day.

This is the path that the government has chosen, furiously blaming anybody from the opposition for "supporting terrorism" instead of questioning their own policies. This is the kind of government we have: It is not disturbed by the status of the country — on the contrary, it perceives the difficulties that Turkey faces as a solution to its own problems. All of this "martyrdom" propaganda, "the red on the flag is the color of blood," and "dying for the homeland is what makes it real," all is used toward that goal.

Dictatorships don't end well

On one hand, it is hard these days to say out loud things such as, "No sir, let us not be martyrs but brothers," or "homeland should be where you are happy to live" or "let the red of the flag be the color of a flower." But the issue is not only about courage. Forget about the suicide bombings, how can our voice not get weaker as news of martyrs occur almost daily? When they say "we killed eight of them and they killed one of us" how can we make the people say "no, eight and one equals nine of us?"

It must also be realized that further alienating Turkey in the international community is not a solution, but rather another factor to drive the current administration to more extreme stances. Which country led by someone the world declared a "dictator" ever got something good out of it? We see what happens to these countries. It is true that those most worried about this are those in the government, but it is actually the whole country that collapses in such situations. Nobody hands you a "plug-and-play democracy."

I am not suggesting one shouldn't criticize this government. On the contrary, I say it is a dangerous road to walk. Tying all hope to the government getting weaker and not putting up a struggle for democracy — I say nobody will win anything on that road. I say standing up against a terrible government is not possible with a terrible opposition. The way is not an opposition of the hardcore nationalists of the MHP, nor the CHP"s indecisive and ineffectual style, nor the Kurdish movement's efforts to cut ties with the democratic struggle. Democrats, liberals, and all the other lines of opposition: I simply say that putting all hopes in the weakening government will never provide a real way out.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


How Turkey Can Bring Its Brain Drain Back Home

Turkey heads to the polls next year as it faces its worst economic crisis in decades. Disillusioned by corruption, many young people have already left. However, Turkey's disaffected young expats are still very attached to their country, and could offer the best hope for a new future for the country.

Photo of people on a passenger ferry on the Bosphorus, with Istanbul in the background

Leaving Istanbul?

Bekir Ağırdır*


ISTANBUL — Turkey goes to the polls next June in crucial national elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is up against several serious challenges, as a dissatisfied electorate faces the worst economic crisis of his two-decade rule. The opposition is polling well, but the traditional media landscape is in the hands of the government and its supporters.

But against this backdrop, many, especially the young, are disillusioned with the country and its entire political system.

Young or old, people from every demographic, cultural group and class who worry about the future of Turkey are looking for something new. Relationships and dialogues between people from different political traditions and backgrounds are increasing. We all constantly feel the country's declining quality of life and worry about the prevalence of crime and lawlessness.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest