Turkey’s Erdoğan uses military operation to overcome domestic troubles – BirGün
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is using the military operation launched this week in northeast Syria to shore up support and divide opposition parties at home, journalist Hüseyin Şimşek wrote for leftist daily BirGün.
Operation Peace Spring was launched on Wednesday against Kurdish-led groups in control of northern Syrian areas bordering Turkey. The Turkish military says it aims to clear the area of groups it views as a security threat, but Erdoğan has taken the opportunity to strengthen his hand in Turkey, Şimşek said.
Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered major losses in local elections as the economy stuttered this year, and the president has faced dissent from within his own party.
This week that has changed, with discussions among AKP politicians shifting from the rifts in their own party to the military operation, said Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist known for his close links to the ruling party.
Peace Spring has also put a resurgent opposition on the back foot. The Nation Alliance of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and nationalist Good Party won five of Turkey’s largest provinces in the local elections this year, but only with informal help from Turkey’s Kurdish movement.
Both parties voted in favour of the motion to authorise the military operation this week, driving a wedge between them and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party and deepening rifts between Turkish nationalist and more liberal factions of the opposition.
Thus, Erdoğan’s comment as he returned from a visit to Serbia on Wednesday that he viewed the dissolution of the Nation Alliance as “very important” was highly significant, Şimşek said.
The AKP are both “talking about ‘national unity’ with the support (for the military operation) they got from us and making the dissolution of the Nation Alliance a key issue,” Şimşek quoted CHP parliamentary group leader Özgür Özel as saying. “There’s no problem in our alliance.”
Good Party deputy leader Salim Ensarioğlu also stressed that no major issues were affecting the alliance and said it was “impossible” that his party would end its relationship with the CHP and make an agreement with the ruling party.
Reports this month said senior members of the Good Party had been in talks with the AKP to join the ruling coalition.