Turkey. On June 12, the ruling Islamist AKP (Justice and Development Party) won its third straight parliamentary election with 49.8% of the vote. The second largest was the secular CHP (Republican People’s Party) with 26%. These two parties advanced compared to the previous election, while the third, the right-wing extremist MHP (Nationalist Party of Action), dropped to 13%. The pro-Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) officially boycotted the election but 36 of its politicians, more than ever before, won the mandate by running for independence. However, several of them were then prevented from participating in parliamentary work by being arrested or convicted of so-called terrorist propaganda or similar crimes linked to the fight for the Kurds’ rights.
According to Countryaah official site, the AKP government’s previous attempts to resolve the Kurdish issue failed. The battles between the Kurdish PKK guerrilla and the government forces escalated during late summer and autumn. In a series of attacks against police and army posts in the Hakkari province near the Iraq border, the PKK killed October 26, 26 Turkish soldiers. Turkey responded with a massive flight and even land offensive against PKK positions in Iraq. Nearly 200 PKK soldiers were killed according to Turkish sources during July – November. Civilian casualties were also required on both sides. On December 28, government flights accidentally killed 35 young Kurds who smuggled cigarettes and gasoline across the Iraqi border.
The investigation into two government-hostile conspiracies, Släggan and Ergenekon, took new complicated tours. The revelations had in recent years resulted in the secular dominance of the military being broken and the Islamist government established a power base there as well. The country’s top military command – Commander Isik Kosaner and the commanders of the army, navy and air force – resigned on July 29 in protest of the arrest of approximately 250 high-ranking officers suspected of slaying the country in chaos to justify a military takeover. Also journalists were arrested in the Ergenekhärven, among them Nedim Sener who wrote a book about the police involvement in the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink 2007.
The membership negotiations with the EU went extremely slow. In March, the European Parliament criticized Turkey for weakening press freedom. Turkey turned to its former ally Syria in the autumn and at the same time, relations with Israel deteriorated further.
About 600 people in and around the city of Ercis in the Van Province died October 23 in an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale. The same area was shaken by another quake on November 11, when at least 13 people were killed.
In late December 2012, the conflict took an unexpected turn when Prime Minister Erdogan said in an interview that the government had initiated a negotiation process with PKK’s Öcalan. There were several attempts by the military to derail the peace process through assaults on key players both inside and outside Turkey, but the process continued. In March 2013, Öcalan sent an open letter read to the media in both Turkey and Kurdistan. In the letter, he called for a ceasefire and for the PKK to withdraw its partisans from Turkey. On April 25, the PKK announced that they accepted Öcalan’s proposal in order to start peace talks. However, there were no direct peace talks. Instead, the Turkish government set up a “Committee of Wise Men” to come up with proposals. Although 58% of the Turkish population supported the peace process, the committee seemed most like a jam jar. The fundamental problems that caused the conflict in Kurdistan were not addressed.
On June 22, 2012, Syrian antiaircraft shot down a Turkish F-4 fighter jet over Syrian territory. The incident was close to triggering a Turkish attack, but it was revealed that the fighter aircraft had not flown over Syria at high altitude, but at low altitude and had therefore been shot down by ordinary anti-aircraft fire, and the aircraft was subsequently located in Syrian territorial waters. Turkey failed to activate NATO’s “musketeers”, which would otherwise have quickly put Syria at war with NATO. The incident also marked Turkey being deeply involved in the destabilization of Syria. The country had set up a command center at a military base in Antalya as command and intelligence center for the FSA’s operations in Syria. The United States admitted in early August that it was involved in these intelligence and command activities in support of the FSA.
On October 3, the Turkish border town of Akçakale was hit by a grenade fired from Syria. Two adult women and 3 children were killed. Turkey placed the entire responsibility for the incident on the Syrian government and attacked Syrian government positions that night with T-155 howitzers killing 3 Syrian soldiers. The following day, the Turkish parliament passed 320 votes against 129, allowing Turkey to send its soldiers into “other countries” on military operations. A sign that the country was planning to enter the civil war in Syria. The decision triggered widespread anti-war demonstrations in Ankara, Istanbul and other major cities. The UN Security Council condemned Syria for the “attack” and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen declared that the war alliance was behind Turkey in the escalation aimed at Syria. The following weeks, the Turkish military sent mortar grenades and bombs daily across the border to Syrian targets, and on October 10, Turkish military aircraft forced a civilian Syrian aircraft down, en route from Moscow to Damascus. It happened with the allegation that it was carrying weapons. However, the Turkish government was unable to provide evidence for this claim. The consequence of the escalation was that Syria banned all over-flights of its territory by Turkish aircraft, and Turkey again responded with a similar ban aimed at Syrian aircraft.
The Turkish authorities kept secret their ballistic investigations of the grenade that hit Akçakale on October 3, but the Turkish newspaper Yurt cited reliable sources as being a 120 AE HE-TNT mortar grenade, produced by NATO and delivered by Turkey to the Turkish rebels. The Syrian military was already engaged in fighting the country’s rebel groups so that it would be smart to provoke the militarily far stronger Turkey. Most likely, it was the rebel groups themselves – who already control parts of the border areas – who sent the mortar grenade into Turkey to draw this country deeper into the conflict on their part. Managed.
Turkey’s negotiations with the EU on membership froze to ice when Cyprus took over the EU presidency in 2012.
2013-14 Mass protests against the government
In 2013-14, extensive protests and demonstrations against the government and the increasing Islamization of the country were conducted.
In 2013, the government announced plans to remove the Gezi park in the center of the European side of Istanbul. The park was one of the only green holes in Istanbul and the plans therefore sparked protests, and in May a group of environmental activists occupied the park to prevent the grubbing up from going ahead. On May 28, the park was cleared by police with violence. The activists were sprayed with tear gas and had their tents burned down. After several attempts to remove the protesters, each time simply returning in larger numbers, authorities gave up on June 1. The park now developed into an Occupy-like obsession with several thousand tents for the protesters, its own health clinic, its own distribution of food and its own media center.
In a June 2 speech, Prime Minister Erdogan described the protesters as a few marauders, looters and chaos. But they did not disappear and on June 15 security police moved into the square and cleared it. It simply meant that the protests spread to cities across the country. By the time protests ebbed out in October 2014, 11 had been killed by security forces, 8,000 wounded and 3,000 arrested. About DKK 3½ million out of the country’s 80 million. residents had then participated in over 5,000 demonstrations across the country. The protesters called themselves Marodores (çapulcu) since that was the concept Erdogan had first tried to bring down.
On July 3, 2013, the government announced that the plan for the demolition of Gezi park had been shelved. A court had actually decided on this already in mid-June, but the decision was kept secret. Despite the announcement, the protests continued after the bag was opened.
Demonstrations and protests were not centrally controlled but reflected the accumulated frustration in the population. They came into direct focus on the Islamization of the country since 2011 (ban on alcohol consumption, ban on kissing in public places, etc.), restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule, environmental issues, corruption, stop for police violence and government support for the war in Syria.