By Fatih YAŞLI, Exclusive

The Ottoman and the caliphate dreams of Islamists and the world sovereignty reveries of the ultra-nationalists, that is to say, the imperial fantasies of the Turkish right-wing were revived through the Syria operations.

In the political life of Turkey, there are rare slogans as powerful and effective as the slogan “Enough! Now the people have their say!” used by the Democratic Party (DP) [1] during the election of 14 May 1950. Because this slogan has gone beyond the being of simply an election slogan, it has had a qualification being ahead of the period when it was put into words, involving and surrounding the before and after of that period, in other words, both the past and the future, establishing a paradigm.

This is related to the view to our 200-year-old modernization history. When those saying “Enough! Now the people have their say!” have looked at our modernization history, they have seen a “nation” essentially coming to fore with its piety and, on the other hand, a minority alienated from the values of the nation, intending to break off the nation from the civilization (Islamic) which it belongs to and to include it in a foreign civilization (Western), speaking for it by shutting it up, undertaking its tutelage.

The fundamental assertion, which the DP left a legacy to the successor right-wing parties, is to ensure this pious mass silenced by the Turkish modernization to speak, or rather, to be the voice of it. According to this assertion, the nation that has been silenced and those alienated from the values of the nation have spoken so far, however, the nation will now speak because those being from the heart of the nation, representing its values, bearing these values are now in power.


 The Justice Party (AP) of Suleyman Demirel, the Motherland Party (ANAP) of Turgut Özal, the Right Way Party (DYP) – again of Demirel, after 1980 military coup- and other any right-wing party after the Democratic Party (DP) -including the Islamist ones of Necmettin Erbakan [2]– could not put this assertion into practice by adopting as much vigorously as the Democratic Party, only one party would be able to achieve to exceed DP after many years: the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi-AKP) of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AKP has carried DP’s policy established on the dichotomy of “the nation vs. the elites alienated from the nation” to the extreme point, and not only that but also crossing the border, it has embarked on the construction of a new regime. For this reason, it would not be wrong to say that AKP has exceeded the legacy of Turkish right by involving it.


From the moment it came into power, AKP has acted slowly and patiently with the perspective of extending from being the government to being the state with the aim of changing the regime, and while doing that, it has built its own discourse on “the struggle against the regime of tutelage, the elites and those alienated from the values of the nation, on behalf of the nation” and has presented itself as the real and sole representative of the nation and has been recognized as such.

According to this discourse, if AKP wins this struggle, the 200-year-old angle between the nation and those governing it will close, the state will start representing the nation for the first time after 200 years, and the nation will be in power in real terms as well.


We have been witnessing this struggle and the happenings on the fronts of this struggle for more than ten years. The university, the judiciary, the media, the bureaucracy etc. all of them were acquired one by one through referendums, law amendments, decree-laws. On the other hand, there was a front where there was main concentration since the very beginning because of both its real and symbolic importance and it experienced to the biggest intervention. Its role in the establishment of the Republic, its claim to being the “the guardian of secularism”, the fact that it is an institution concretized with the alienation from the values of the nation and the hostility to religion in the eyes of the İslamists, the fear resulted from the thought which it may overthrow the power at any moment turned the army into the biggest target in the process of the construction of the regime.


The first phase of this battle was the caliper cases put into practice by the organization of the “Gülen Community” (known as Gülenists), and certainly within the knowledge and the approval of the government.  The elements within the army that may object the construction of the new regime were liquidated without any considerable resistance through these cases. It was not only that, but the ideological/discursive infrastructure of the construction of the new regime was also established through these cases. Accordingly, Turkey was democratizing, getting rid of the military domination, and the period of coups was ending. The indictments of these cases, so to say, were not written by the Gülenist prosecutors but by the liberal-conservative intelligentsia concretized with the slogan “Not enough, but yes”. This alliance won the battle, and the winners sent the losers as some sort of the prisoner of war to Silivri, which we can consider as some sort of a concentration camp.


However, the battle did not remain limited to this; because the winners started cutthroat quarrelling with each other for the ownership of the state, and certainly, the army could not stay out of this. The Gülenist Community attempted a military coup against its own old partner through its old cadres in the army in the night of July 15th and it failed. Hence, a new liquidation wave was started, and a part of the Güllenists that we cannot regard as too little but can estimate to be insufficient, was liquidated from the army, especially, the command echelon. That is to say, the liquidators were liquidated.

The power, which liquated the liquidators as well, could now claim that the army literally became the nation’s army, and it already did so.  Especially, with the appointments made in the recent meeting of the military council and before this the appointment of the former Chief of General Staff as the Minister of Nation Defense, it could be seen that the army, at least the considerable part of it, became the army of the nation, that is to say, now the new regime.


However, the transformation of the army to the nation’s army was not only made through a destruction operation, but also the holies and values of the regime turned into the holies and values of the army in parallel with the construction of the regime. “The nation’s army” was not the “the guardian of secularism”, but “the guardian of the nation’s values” now; just as the state and the society were Islamized and religionized in Turkey, so was the army.

The ironic part is that the army so-called “the guardian of secularism” has paved the way for a controlled Islamization in Turkey for the fear of the left and on behalf of anti-communism, but after a while the monster created by it got out of the control, swallowed it, and also Islamized it as well as the regime. There have been a state, a regime and an army that the codes, the symbols and the discourse of which, based on the religion and the legitimacy and the foundership of, now attributed to religion.

No doubt, the army also benefited from some religious patterns in the past. The titles of martyrdom and veteran, the mentioning of army as the place of prophet, the term “Mehmetçik” used in reference to the prophet, all of them had religious qualifications, but these were in force on behalf of spirituality and in conjunction with a state religion assumed to be under control.


However, things changed with the new regime, all of these became functional not because of their functional qualifications but because they are the values of the nation, and the new regime became the “regime of nation”, the army became the “army of nation”.  Just as the angle between the nation and the state closed, so did the angle between the army and the nation; and both the state-nation identity and the army-state identity were now ensured. Besides, the “domestic war industry” was added to this through the “groom”. The UAVs and the AUAVs, which have been produced by the groom [3], have not only formed the connection point of the fantasy worlds of the Islamists, the army and the left-nationalists, but also have made a great contribution to the anti-imperialist image of the regime and the name at its height, and the political strategy based on the discourse that the second independence war has been carried out against imperialism.

With the filling of the gap emerged after 15 July  by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the missing part also has been completed, and this time religion and nationalism have been intermeshed as the official ideology of the state. The Turkish-Islam synthesis of the 12 September was finally in power.


In the new army, there was everything that the Turkish right-wing was looking for. For example, when the ultra-nationalists looked at this army, they saw the Middle Asia, and the Islamist also saw the Ottomans. Just as the the coat of arms, sewn on the uniforms, written the inscription of Turk with the Runic alphabet titillated the nationalists, so the commandos saying Allahuekber before the military operation titillated the Islamists. Looking at the “army of nation”, the glorious good old days when forty men were breaking into the Chinese Palace and a thousand horsemen were passing over the Danube River was being reminisced. The Ottoman was being reestablished, and the world was being put in order.  

A photograph taken in one of the Syria operations shows all the things we have mentioned with a great symbolism: A soldier in front of the tank is making the sign of Rabia [4]  with his one hand and the sign of the grey-wolf with his other hand towards the objectives of the cameras.  Here was the “army of nation”, its members were the children of the nation and it represented the values of the nation.


It was needed to use this new “the army of the nation” for the hegemony establishment of the construction of the new regime, to benefit also from this when establishing the hegemony. Syria operations were an excellent opportunity for this. The operations in Syria were fulfilled by the “army of the nation”. During the operations, the voices of chants rose and the surah of conquest was announced from the mosques, the whole of Koran was read and the prayers were performed in the mosques, and the images of soldiers in person, who were praying and saying Allahuekber, were released to the public. All the things were performed in accordance with the society of the spectacle and the video clips, in which the poems full of hostility and the touching sings were sung, were added to these. It was not sufficient, the TVs were filled with these series as such, and the rating records were broken.


The Ottoman and the caliphate dreams of Islamists and the world sovereignty reveries of the ultra-nationalists, that is to say, the imperial fantasies of the Turkish right-wing were revived through the Syria operations. The securitization and criminalization of the Kurdish problem, once again, were ensured in this way, and establishing the domestic policy based on the dichotomy of friend-foe and the discourse on the internal collaborationists of the external enemies got easy. The image of the “President” in the domestic public, which was presented to as the man challenging the world and the representative of the oppressed people and the Muslims all over the world, was established as such.  The will to power of the millions of people, who barely have made both ends meet, and the average person was satisfied in this manner.


With the last operation and the military campaign towards the east of Euphrates, the water of life was given to the hegemony weakening, for a while again. The de-facto coalition between AKP and MHP was fortified. The internal problems in AKP were papered over the cracks for a while again. The opposition that acquired the moral advantage by winning the municipalities on 31 March [5] lined up like a rope. The counter voices were silenced. With a fabricated anti-imperialism, it was got support from a group of left-nationalists closing insistently their eyes to the fact that the owners of the state and the regime had been changed. The approach between the Republicans Public’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi-CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (Halkın Demokrasi Partisi-HDP[6]) was drawn the line. It was paved the way for the changes on the alliances and the taking part of the new parties in the coalition. The economic crisis, the cost of living and the raises were covered up.

In short, everything was broken to smithereens by the only one move, and a consensus, even if it is temporary, has been established once again through the new Islamic militarism, the dissolution has been postponed for a while again. Thus, it has been understood that this new militarism was not only one of the building stones of the new regime, but also would be able to become some sort of savior of it in the critical times.


What this saving show us once again is that any manner of policy has no even a chance unless it reads the policy by considering the fact that the new regime has been established in Turkey, this regime has an extraordinary qualification and therefore the opposition also must be built accordingly and unless it has position as required by this.

Apart from this, another thing we see is that the voting from one election to the other election patiently, the expectation of what “everything will be very nice” by making sentences without subjects in order to avoid the becoming a subject, the creating some superheroes, and the having dreams that somewhere can be gotten without taking on literally responsibility, all of them make no sense in reality. Yes, in no sense.

For the very reason, we will either face the reality and take a step through this confrontation or continue to go by drifting in this “bad endless”.


(In Turkish, 11 October 2019)

[1] Democratic Party (DP) was on of the main rightwing party after Turkey’s transition to multiparty system. The party shut down and Adnan Menderes the leader of the party had been executed after 1960 military coup.

[2] By the way, MHP, the main representative of nationalist-fascist tradition in Turkey, which arose thanks to Nazi politics and became pro-western apparatus. Grey wolf is a hand sign associated with MHP.

[3] Selçuk Bayraktar is the groom married with Erdoğan’s daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan. As an MIT educated engineer, he is the one of the leading figures of the team that manufacture Turkey’s first domestically produced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). He has been working as the chief technology officer (CTO) of Baykar Makina that his father owns.

[4] Rabia is a Muslim Brotherhood hand sign since 2013 military coup in Egypt that Erdoğan has adapted in his domestic policies

[5] Turkish local elections in 31 March 2019. The opposition parties won in most of the big cities including Istanbul and Ankara, the capital city of Turkey.

[6] Main opposition is the social democratic CHP, which is the founding political party in modern Turkey. HDP is pro-Kurdish nationalist party.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *