By Edmond Y. Azadian
Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is considered a political wizard who can play any dirty trick and come out on top. These credentials have more takers in the West than anywhere else in the world.
Emboldened by his bravura, the prime minister has developed such a degree of confidence that he believes he can dupe or mesmerize theWest through his democratic reforms while keeping the genie of democracy in the bottle. But since the June parliamentary elections in Turkey — where his AK party won a majority — the prime minister is suffering the predicament of the sorcerer’s apprentice, because the genie is already out of the bottle and he is between a rock and a hard place. He cannot undo the reforms, which will certainly offend the West, and he cannot control ethnic minorities and those in opposition, which have broken the chains of repression. The prime minister and his ruling Islamist party will be facing further challenges as they undertake the promised amendments in the Constitution. Beginning with President Abdullah Gul, and all the way down to the military brass, the powers-that-be are opposed to the proposed changes in the constitution. Already, many highly-ranked members of the military are in jail or in the process of ongoing investigations of the Ergenekon conspiracy, creating a very volatile situation in the country.
But events are moving faster than Mr. Erdogan and his ruling party can act. To begin with, the opposition parties boycotted the oath-taking ceremony in the parliament, because some of their elected party members had been jailed under different charges. Erdogan used his negotiating tactics — coupled with some threats — to convince Kilicdaroglu’s Republican party to return to fold. Similarly other parties followed suit, except the Kurdish party, which had a surprise in store.
The Kurds were already complaining that Turkey is too vast a country to be ruled by one prime minister, and on July 14 the Kurdish party called Popular Collective Convention (with the Kurdish acronym DTK), declared Kurdish autonomy in Diarbekir.
This declaration came on the heels of a major bloody confrontation between the army special units and PKK militants, claiming 13 victims from the army and seven victims from the