Turkey’s ruling party shooting itself in the foot with HDP crackdown

I am truly having a difficult time in understanding what the ‘mind’ that rules Turkey is attempting to do. What do you think this ‘mind’ is attempting to accomplish through the chokehold it has placed on the old and new lawmakers of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) through fabricated indictments? 

Only a month ago, Turkey moved to arrest 82 people, including leading HDP officials, as part of an investigation into the 2014 Kobani protests. This is the latest incident in the years-long crackdown on the HDP by the current Turkish government, which accuses the party of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and had party officials jailed while ousting mayors from over 50 HDP municipalities since 2019.

I amazed that Ankara still fails to understand that such steps would not remedy its concerns, but I also understand one should not be surprised by this given how badly the country is managed by those ruling it, particularly when looking at the economy.

The HDP, from its inception, has never been a party solely for the country’s Kurds. It is rather a party promoting democratic values which has received support from all segments of society, starting with Kurds, who make up an estimated 15 percent of the population.

While the HDP grew, the ‘mind’ that rules the country became increasingly authoritarian through illegal acts of pressure on opposition groups. 

The government’s move to assign state-appointed officials to almost all HDP municipalities in the country’s Kurdish-majority east and southeast had led to its political erasure – and the ruling power has failed to recover from that.

But why does the government choose to shoot itself in the foot through this crackdown on the HDP? There are undoubtedly various answers to this question. 

Firstly, it could be that Ankara does not know how to solve the problem with the Kurds, an ethnic group that happens to be an old and founding demographic of Turkey. It could be thinking that the Kurdish issue may lead to a partition, due to its inability to properly read global development trends.

Secondly, Ankara could be fearful of Turkey’s disintegration as the country approaches its centennial year in 2023, confirming a theory asserted by 14th-century Muslim thinker Ibn Khaldun, who maintained that every state, much like human beings, has a limited life span of up to 100-150 years.

Thirdly, the current administration could be aspiring to succeed in a political struggle against the Kemalist approach to governance and, in doing so, re-write history with a new republic – one in which Kurds would be assimilated into. 

And, by extension of this last possible goal, it could be seeking to remain in power and a significant player in domestic politics by forming a “nationalist-Ottomanist-Islamist” coalition that antagonises the HDP.

There may be other reasons for the policy pursued by Turkey’s ruling power, but the ones I gave are the only scenarios that come to my mind. I believe they are the foundation of the country’s stance in its quest for power in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and, most recently, Azerbaijan. But this ‘mind’ that rules Turkey forgets that the HDP is not just the party representing Kurds, but of all groups in Turkey that long for a return to democracy. 

Ankara’s failure to see what is being inflicted on Kurds in Turkey’s east is also increasing the calls for democracy and freedom in the country’s western population. It fails to see that there has not been a tyrannical regime which maintained its existence forever.

Similarly, it is overlooking the fact that the masses demand more freedom and justice in this country, beginning with the Kurds, and will surely win.

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