Biden - Turkey’s last chance at any kind of democracy

It is time to accept an undeniable truth about Turkey: It is impossible to form a Western-style democracy and state of law in a country, where an effective state worship and monism mindset have become firmly rooted. In this country, the judiciary will always be dependent on the state, prompting it to cover the latter’s crimes, which in turn paves the way for the judiciary’s own corruption. This is how it has always been.

This process began with the severing of Islam from science and the prevention of the formation of a commerce class that was independent of the state, coupled by an increased religious control over the latter. It was intensified by the efforts of the Committee of Union and Progress to render Anatolia more Turkish and Islamic, including the Armenian genocide.

The end result is evident: A state that is far removed from any notion of human rights, and a society that believes every narrative of that state while denouncing as enemies any entity the state so declares.

We are speaking of a structure that sustains itself by way of paranoia, fears and empty calls for confrontation.  A state that vindicates itself through the oppression of children, women, the LGBT community, the powerless - a society that is dominated by men, who are backed by religion.

It is a pipe dream to expect for a Western-style democracy to emerge from this reality without a large-scale and deep-rooted transformation. This society, together with its religion, rage and political parties, is under control of the state. No one is bound by the law, so long as they parrot the state and act on its behalf.

However, Turkey is currently experiencing a primitive era that is unprecedented in its recent history. Corruption and lawlessness, as well as ransacking state resources and arbitrary decision making, have reached such a point that they could give the country’s pre-democracy single-party era between 1925 and 1945 a run for its money. No one bats an eye at millions of Euros transported in cars to ruling party officials. Society has lost its culture of co-existence while Turkey became increasingly isolated in the world as its economy inched towards the brink of collapse.

And at the current juncture, the state of Turkey’s opposition does not offer much hope, either. But in a country with a lack of strong unionisation and organisation, they continue to remain the only flicker of expectation for a better future The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), under the leadership of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, may have made amends with Turkey’s religious and conservative population, but it has not progressed any further. Kılıçdaroğlu is surrounded by state-appointed party officials. He is conducting politics within the restricted parameters allowed by the state, like a children’s playground fenced off from its surroundings.

He keeps a distance from Kurds and can’t even embrace the Alevis, which form the backbone of the CHP.

Turkey is at the most critical state of its century of existence as a republic. It may continue along this path as a pro-Islamic Turkish regime without oil, like the Iranian model, which in the long run will threaten its existence.

Or, it could become a country that aligns itself with the European Union and NATO, with a parliamentary system and a functioning judiciary, which attempts to maintain good relations with neighbours.

Turkey’s recent history and the state of the country’s opposition signal that even establishing such a weak democracy model may prove difficult with current internal dynamics.

The only hope and chance comes with the election of U.S. President Joe Biden, whose presence has brought democratic winds in the West.

As Ahval editor İlhan Tanır pointed out in a recent article, there seems to be a “Biden doctrine” forming in Washington.

Biden appears to be willing to attempt to bolster the pro-democracy front through NATO against an increasingly hostile China and the United States’ traditional foe Russia. This is the basis of his doctrine. It likely that this will be the main item during the first phone call expected to take place between Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan later this week.

Turkey’s opposition must understand the reality that this is the last window of opportunity for the country. Unline China, Turkey, which will be treated like an outcast by NATO after receiving the same treatment from the EU, doesn’t have the necessary natural resources to make a $400 billion investment deal with China. If Turkey breaks off the Western orbit, it will be left entirely to the mercy of Russia.  Those who look at Russia’s actions in Syria’s Idlib during a time when Biden has yet to call Erdoğan will understand what this means.

Opposition parties must not surrender to the anti-Western mindset that has taken hold of the state at the moment, and instead manage to form a democratic model which, even if not fully complete, allows citizens of the country some breathing room.

Turkey is in de-facto wars in Syria and Iraq, where Kurds and other large segments of society have become hostile towards one another. Its economy is in shambles, with an administration that is unable to fix it. The country is headed towards an unprecedented disaster.

If the opposition fails to stake a claim to a democracy, albeit imperfect, and fight for such a system, they will have thrown into danger the very state they are trying to protect.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.