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GE-l's 'go smooth' strategy is risky.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Initial reactions to President Abdullah GE-l's ratification of the Internet law have been colored strongly by disappointment and despair. As a staunch social media user, and a globalist, GE-l had raised the expectations to such high levels that a veto looked natural to everyone, at home and abroad.

I belonged to those who tweeted negatively as soon as I had heard that he had passed the problematic law.

"Such a pity. This is the end of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] era, as we have known it. Now, a new phase starts, a phase of a brand new struggle for democracy" was my first tweet.

The second one referred to GE-l's heroic stance during the political crisis on April 27, 2007, when Turkey was on the verge of a putsch (GE-l led the way when the government countered to the top brass the day after.)

"If," I wrote, "this is Mr GE-l's biggest political mistake so far, Turkey's story demands a courageous stance during critical times, such as April 27. If GE-l had acted like he did then, showing civilian courage about this disastrous law, he would be a hero. But, instead, he will now witness the whole people being silenced."

Widespread criticism along these lines being valid, one must also objectively analyze GE-l's ordeal. A modernist founding father of the AKP, GE-l knows that the party whose birth and architecture have borne his signature has come to the end of a critical 12-year cycle. He is obviously aware that the AKP he shaped is no longer there; it is a different party, driven by a hunger for personal power, blind greed and a flock mentality. It was not something he had in mind when he lived through the hard times of the party.

This wisdom and the post he has occupied since August 2007 have given him the potential to be able to create an alternative model of governance. Yet, he also knows that the other co-founder of the AKP, Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an, has taken control of the party almost entirely and will not let himself be stopped on his chosen path. Aware of the fact that Erdoy-an stands ready to demonize whoever starts to challenge him, GE-l is determined to keep a low profile until the very critical end, when he will make sure that he will be "needed."

It is apparent, also, that GE-l watches with growing concern as Turkey's asymmetrical, religion- and greed-driven politics gives a slow birth to an Anatolian Lukashenko. With each and every move by Erdoy-an these days, GE-l's constitutional powers will be tested more and more intensely. With the draconian Internet bill he has maneuvered in his own introverted style, by announcing that the AKP will amend some of its parts, using this as a pretext to avoid a confrontation with Erdoy-an by not signing a veto. This "a la Turque" method may protect some of his image within the party, but not outside it.

There will be no escape for him, no peace of mind. Now, with the repressive Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) law, GE-l will be tested even more severely. The momentum of Turkey's critical course is bound to either raise him or send him to a position where lack of confidence will darken his political future. In polls, he has lost more than 10 points, now around 55 percent, a downhill trend that may continue.

Erdoy-an knows this. But, one point is crucial: As Erdoy-an changes his rhetoric, he says that anything above 38 percent of the vote will be a success. He sees that he will most probably not be elected Turkey's next president. He now aims to win the local elections and possibly declare early general elections after that. Erdoy-an's obligatory path now is only to continue as prime minister, if he can, and testing his chances by a trust for a system where either impunity or general amnesty for all will apply.

This leaves GE-l with only one choice: to be nominated for the presidential elections. GE-l may win, with Erdoy-an continuing his fourth period, with a growing inability to rule.

In short, GE-l plays for time, beyond 2014, but the tragic part is, we may all end up with huge political debris in Turkey caused by Erdoy-an's destructive policies. With every day, the damage to all its gains grows exponentially.

Who will have the courage, and stamina, to repair this, before it is too late?

YAVUZ BAYDAR (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Feb 21, 2014
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