Turkey, Sunday, 26th of July. Olives from a village nearby. Cucumber, tomato, cheese and eggs from the farmer in the nearby village, as well as bread baked by his cousin. With this, we drink Turkish tea. We have bought five magazines that we read.
We, Zeynep Tozduman, a Turkish human rights activist and author, as well as friend and colleague are trying to study the situation in Turkey. The Turkish police have taken a tough stand against the ISIS followers in recent days, after the terrorist attack in Suruc in south eastern Turkey, where 32 young people lost their lives.
Those who were brutally murdered by the suicide bomber were human rights activists and aid workers who had travelled from across the country to help build up the Kurdish-dominated town Kobane in Syria, a town which has been destroyed by the terrorists. Many of the victims were Kurds themselves. Many of the people here who I have spoken to in the recent days began to cry when they re-lived the moment of the terrorist attack. We look at the pictures of the victims in the newspapers and weep together.
Information regarding the attack surfaced which gives reason to believe that a young Kurd as well as other Islamists committed the crime. The media's reporting is a mess. Some of the headlines read the following:
• Turkey has struck at ISIS in Syria
• Turkey has begun to catch terrorists at many places in the country
• Turkey is willing to even go in with ground troops in Syria
• Turkey has plans to build a wall against Syria
• The Turkish president's daughter treats injured ISIS terrorists at secret hospitals
• Kurdish PKK has avenged the attack in Suruc by killing two policemen
• Demonstrations in many places in the country against the Turkish government who didn't strike harder against the terrorists
• The Turkish air force strikes against the PKK
• The Turkish government is accused of secretly supporting the terrorist organization ISIS
• How many Turkish ISIS members are there?
• Turkey sends more aid to the Syrian opposition leader militia; Free Syrian Army (FSA)
• Human rights activists commemorating the victims of Suruc by realizing their plans
• Two men killed because they had ISIS-like beard
The FSA is contrary to the Syrian President Bashar army, ISIS, and the Islamist terrorist group al-Nusra. And now it's getting even more confusing because sometimes the FSA, as well as Assyrians/Syrians, fight alongside the Kurdish security force YPG. President Erdogan has openly declared that he can't stand the YPG. He doesn't want to see Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria. Demands for autonomy can affect Turkey. At the same time, he has signed trade agreements with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. The reason for the terrorist attack in Suruc should be YPG's success against ISIS in northern Syria.
We set the papers down and eat a bit of healthy breakfast that we almost forgot. The olives are out of this world, amazing, not to mention the eggs.
Zeynep was born and raised in Turkey, I was born here too, but raised in Sweden. We have the situation under control. At least we think so. I ask her if she thinks that some of the foreigners who gathered on the beach behind us understand what's happening in Turkey.
"It's just like that, Nuri. That many in Turkey are dependent on the tourism industry. Erdogan must now strike at ISIS, stop them from committing a terrorist act on a beach, like that which took place in Tunisia. If tourists cancelled their trips to Turkey out of fear from terrorism, it will strike hard against the Turkish regime. He will lose a lot of support. "
There were elections in Turkey a few months ago. President Erdogan's ruling party AKP was very shocked at the poor election results. They, alone, can't form a government while not reaching an agreement with any of the other three major parties that entered the Parliament. Four parties, an Islamist (AKP), a nationalist (MHP), a social democratic (CHP), a democratic consisting almost solely of Kurds (HDP). It has become difficult to form a government. It may be a re-election.
The clock has already struck eleven. We've sat with the newspapers and breakfast for three hours. Have we come up with something? Can you predict Turkey's future? No, that's impossible. The only thing we know for sure, is that the country has, many times in the foreign media, appeared to be Islamist. It's something we barely know or see. On the contrary.
The following evening, the Turkish Air Force struck against the PKK in northern Iraq and ISIS in northern Syria. Many of us are busy discussing the development. Two friends and I jump in a car to enjoy a late dinner in a small center in one of Turkey's calmer island resorts.
"They stare at you, it's so scary. Why do they do that?" My friend is worried when Jendarma, Turkish security forces, are looking toward me. I suddenly realize that I have a black backpack. I always carry work with me. It is high alert in Turkey again and such a backpack may give the impression of a suicide bomber.
The Jendarma calmed down when I gently approach them and explain that it's a computer, a few notepads, and a camera in the bag. Seconds later, we're having a discussion with one of the policemen. He's in his early 20s, asking me if I've seen the news on how a sister screams that she wants her brother back.
Her brother was also a police officer and had been killed by the PKK. On another TV program the mother of another dead police officer jumps into the hearse and lies beside her son's coffin. She wanted to be with her son during his last journey. The images are incredibly powerful. The young police that I talk to has tears in his eyes and is strained.
My heart is breaking. The cease-fire between the Turkish government and the PKK has been cancelled. My heart is breaking because the country doesn't have a government, because ISIS operates from within the country, and that the tourism industry and thus, Turkey, can be affected financially.
Sure, over 50 percent voted for Erdogan's Islamist AKP before, but far from all of them are radical Islamists. He began his career in politics as a reformist. He introduced many rights of the people: the pension to the elderly, better roads, schools, but then one day, it was as if his true self finally surfaced, and Turkey, which in many ways is a modern, liberal, and moderate country will not allow him to veil it.
If nothing else, to honor the victims of Suruc and other cities victims of terrorism.
Will the Turks allow him, like a schemer to succeed in his operations to get rid of HDP? Many are those who believe that the air raids against the PKK are in fact the beginning of ejecting HDP out of the Turkish Parliament and declare the party illegitimate.
By claiming he is bombing Kurdish terrorists he can then say that Turkey must get rid of HDP -- which is mainly Kurdish (also some Assyrians/Syriacs) -- and other ethnicities, since the political party has ties to PKK.