Russia, Malaysia, Afghanistan… What will happen? What will not? (V.U. Arslan)

Russia, Malaysia, Afghanistan… What will happen? What will not? (V.U. Arslan)

Dani Rodrik, Turkish professor at Harvard University has been very pessimistic.  He speaks of the risk of civil wars as most other do. He mentions that Turkey will be like Malaysia at best and be like Afghanistan in the worst case scenario. Rodrich emphasis that he has given up hope on Turkey for it may return to the democratic system after the attempted coup.

We have been encountering the odds of civil war lately, and Rodrick also speaks of them. Moreover, he brings forward the probability of becoming Afghanistan-like. As we all know, we have just experienced a civil war environment in the Turkish Kurdistan. There were city wars at Sur, Nusaybin, Sırnak, Yüksekova etc. We have witnessed scenes similar to those in Syria in these cities. However, a civil war spread all around Turkey apart from the war against the Kurdish since 1984 is what he talks about when he says that Turkey is becoming Afghanistan-like or that there is high possibility of civil war. That is not exactly true. Inasmuch as there has to be opposing armed parties who risk the mass casualties and civil war for war. Turkey has been experiencing serious cleavages in terms of cultural and identity politics. Still, there is no power or organization that could become a side for any kind of civil war on the social or dominant class base. Kurds have their own power. That is why, the clashes has been taking place more than 30 years. Yet, we cannot talk about any opponent party organization or base that could risk a civil war. What I want to clarify is that Rodrik’s exemplifying Afghanistan, a civil war country, has no basis.

What about examples of Malaysia and Russia?

Malaysia is economically improving while it is culturally conservative. The country does not have an European standard democracy and the minorities treated badly along with the opposed ones. Nevertheless, the Putin Russia is suitable for Erdogan’s main model; the ultimate hegemony and charisma of one man similar to supreme Tzar. Besides, if you ask for elections, there you have the country where the people supports the nationalist Russion leader and government.

Malaysia and Russia are not suitable examples for Turkey. Because the deficient democracy and government pressure can be practiced there, but it would not be effective in Turkey as it is the home for rooted and powerful social dynamics that the other mentioned countries is not. In Turkey, there are powerful opposed lines coming through the social existence of the Kemalists, Socialists and Alevis, apart from the Kurdish dynamic which has been very effective against AKP government. Even if the majority rights are practiced like they are in Russia and Malaysia, the opposition in Turkey can make these cleavages an opportunity and this country will not be a Malaysia or Putin’s Russia. The coup that doesn’t kill, would make the countries which has struggle traditions like Turkey.

Will we become Iran?

If the Turkey is to be monophonic, all of the democratic rights have to be swept out and the social opposition has to be crushed. We may picture an atmosphere like September 12. In that kind of atmosphere, the parties like CHP and HDP should be closed and even the free elections should fall off the agenda. Without a destructive and complete downward pressure, struggle will path the way for itself, and the opposed ones will find the means to address to a large potential in a bribetaker, oppressive and corrupt system. Thus Erdogan has to risk the Iranian model if he wishes to create a monphonic Turkey.

On the other hand, petrol is the economic source that will enable the Iran to organize this kind of regime. Turkey does not possess such sources. Erdogan cannot even remove the free elections and cross to another dimension. He cannot afford the Iranian model that would make the separation from NATO and west block a current issue. He has neither the economic nor the geopolitical power that can pull it off. Besides, there is a chance of Turkey not being able to handle an absolute police government which alone itself is enough to terrify Erdogan.


Saying Turkey has a weak social opposition is one thing, while saying Turkey is becoming and Afghanistan, Russia, Iran or Malaysia is something else. Turkish social opposition is weak, yet has stubborn and powerful roots. It is weak, yet has great potential. That is why; we should reveal that potential instead of yielding to pessimist scenarios. The only way to achieve this is to extend the struggle and organize the youth, proletariat and urban poor.

Çeviri: Sevde Öztürk

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