ISTANBUL -- Turkey's downing of a Russian military jet will help little in improving this much strained relationship. But it can clarify the basic political tensions which Turkey's Turkish and Kurdish politicians need to come to terms with, and get over, if they want to forge a new mode of coexistence inside Turkey's borders.
ANKARA -- The Turkish electorate knows that the AKP is corrupt, has strong authoritarian tendencies and continues to plunder (but distributes some of) Turkey's resources. But they also know that it can deliver services as it did until 2011. Above all, the voters favor stability and economic predictability. Fundamental values such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and free and fair elections constitute much lesser concerns.
A funereal atmosphere descended over western capitals with the announcement of Turkey's parliamentary elections' results, widely described in European and American media as a "shock" and a "black day for Turkey." The picture painted appeared very bleak, as a stream of reports, editorials and op-eds by opposition figures warned of a "return to autocracy and despotism" and declared the outcome as a threat to the "survival of democracy" in the country.
What makes Turkey's authoritarianism, especially the AKP's, so hard to battle, is that it is covered with a thin layer of democracy. Elections are being held, the turnout is high, no wide range fraud was reported, four parties made it into parliament. But the campaign was all but democratic, given the government's violence, further control over the press and detention of opposition politicians.
ISTANBUL -- In his seminal 1996 volume, The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington described Turkey as a "torn country." According to Huntington, despite its adoption of Western institutions such as democracy and the rule of law, Turkey remains firmly rooted in the culture of the Islamic world and is therefore experiencing a "civilizational crisis." Today, Turkey is still the only secular, democratic republic in the Islamic world; sadly, under Erdoğan's increasingly Islamist rule, it is proving Huntington right with every passing day.
Turks denied their increasingly autocratic regime the ability to rule by decree earlier this Summer. But a do-over election, following a brutal anti-Kurd and anti-opposition media campaign, shows that President Erdogan and his allies will stop at nothing to win, even if it means killing democracy along with Turks and Kurds who cross the majority party.