ISTANBUL (Today’s Zaman) — Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtas has said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined ranks with potential coup supporters and carried out a coup against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and Parliament in order to prevent anyone from toppling him from power.
“We are living through a coup period right now. We have already had a coup; it’s happened. It was after July 7. And now, we have a coup government leading Turkey,” Demirtas said during an exclusive interview with Haberdar online news portal that was made available on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“There could have been a coup against Erdogan; instead, what he did was to join forces with coup supporters and carry out his own coup against the government. All of which is why the government has been completely bypassed at this stage. Not even a police officer will listen to [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu,” he said.
Since the June 7 general election of last year, in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Erdogan’s former party, failed to win enough seats to rule as a single party, Turkey has been hit with violence due to clashes between the Turkish security forces and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) following the end of a settlement process between the government and the PKK last July.
Demirtas said that when Erdogan restarted the war with the PKK, he knew that the government was not in control of all the instruments of the state and that it controlled neither the police, the military nor the bureaucracy.
“When the war that he himself had provoked broke out, Erdogan saw that the government actually couldn’t fight against the PKK effectively. I think Erdogan needed to make a choice. He saw that he was going to lose. The war that he provoked after June 7 caused a level of social outrage he hadn’t predicted as we headed toward the Nov. 1 [2015 snap election]. He had to make a choice. In order to get the state institutions that weren’t tied to him, like the military and the police, to fight for him, he had to strike compromises with them. This is why he had private meetings with the Ergenekon people, the supporters of [ultra-nationalist Workers’ Party (İP) leader Dogu] Perincek, the former BBP [Grand Unity Party] people and so on,” Demirtas said.
Many observers have been surprised by Erdogan’s reconciliation with some factions he was previously distanced from. For instance, he began to speak in friendly terms about Perincek, who recently said that Erdogan is defending what he has advocated. Despite previously supporting the trial of individuals allegedly involved with Ergenekon, a shadowy crime network with alleged links within the state, Erdogan has since said that he was wrong about Ergenekon.
According to Demirtas, Erdogan struck a deal with these factions in order to protect him, his grip on power and the ruling party. This agreement, Demirtas said, required Erdogan to give up his personal aims and his attempts to Islamicize the state, while remaining loyal to the “monstrous [aspect of the] state, which belongs to neither Turks nor Kurds nor Muslims.”
“They told him to be faithful only to supporters of the status quo,” the HDP co-chair said. “So essentially, Erdogan had to make a decision. Erdogan was either going to stand up for his own ‘case’ and problems — and in doing so, was going to be alone — or he was going to ‘sell’ his ‘case’ and in the process save himself. He chose the second option. As a result, he is now in a dirty alliance, having given up on his own case and turned into someone who wouldn’t stand up for his own case,” he explained.
When asked what his new allies could have proposed to Erdogan, Demirtas said it was the protection of his rule, because otherwise he would have had to leave power. “He was already becoming more isolated. Mourners at funerals have been crying that it was Erdogan who started this war. He now understands that a situation has arisen that he didn’t predict. He thought that if he were to start a new war with the PKK, nationalism would increase and that he could benefit from it,” he said.