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Rising up against autocracy.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- The meal taken by former President Abdullah GE-l with the Caliph himself in President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an's palace was nothing short of an attempt to soften the fast-spreading uprising.

The path towards a dictatorship is a steep one; it is also one from which a return is difficult. And if you've crushed, ignored and otherwise overlooked old friends of yours while on the way up this path, it's tough to convince them to join your side.

This is precisely the reason Erdoy-an called GE-l to dine with him at the palace. Of course, keeping in mind what sort of relationship and communications once existed between these two men, it's easier to understand the meaning behind this meal. Erdoy-an is pushing many of his old friends into a corner with his "parallel structure operations." Figures from conservative circles who used to once support Erdoy-an, but who are no longer as willing to harmonize with the president's doings and sayings, are labeled "parallel", and treated to their own individual witch hunts and investigations.

This is what former Education Minister HE-seyin Ecelik was referring to when he recently talked about "parallel paranoia." Right after former Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc made his statements on TV, essentially waving the flag of protest against Erdoy-an, his home town of Manisa saw its own parallel operations take place; right after that came similar operations in GE-l's hometown of Kayseri. These operations were nothing short of terse replies to statements of protest. In the meantime though, the recent meal taken between Erdoy-an and GE-l at the Ankara palace represents Erdoy-an's attempt to descend a bit from his present steep path.

The autocratic order that Erdoy-an has been wielding from the palace is beginning to falter. Some concrete signs of this include the sharp criticism recently issued by Arinc and Ecelik, as well as the unforgiving arguments within the pro-government media, and the tough remarks by Turkish Industry and Business Association (TE[pounds sterling]SyAD) President Cansen BaE-aran-Symes about deficiencies in democracy and legal order in Turkey. In the face of these sharp outcroppings of resistance and protest, Erdoy-an seems to be taking backward steps. The tableau unfolding before us shows that this back peddling may be set to continue.

Within the pro-government media, the fight that now exists between businessman Ethem Sancak -- who long ago declared his undying love for Erdoy-an -- and Kanal 7, Erdoy-an's oldest supporter, is growing and deepening. The fight also includes the Sabah-ATV group, which was of course purchased by a consortium put together by Erdoy-an himself. While this particular fight is essentially over the sharing of public profits, it overlooks the referee role played by the palace, and thus damages Erdoy-an's autocracy, thus simultaneously nourishing the real uprising going on. While the outwardly visible reason for this spat was that the ES Group, rather than Kanal 7, was given a satellite band, the real reason is actually about profits and interests, and this becomes clear when one scrutinizes the serious allegations and insults that are now flying back and forth. In fact, a fight as serious as this has not even been seen between the ruling party and the opposition. In reference to members of the pro-government media, Ecelik noted they were like "Kapikulu." In Ottoman times, "Kapikulu" were guards under the direct authority of the palace, military ranks that tended to be composed of Christian youths taken from Balkan lands, who were then forced to become Muslim. And the truth is, this fight now waging in the ranks of the pro-government media really does resemble clashes that might have broken out among Kapikulu members, each hoping to reap the largest share of advantages to be had from relations with the palace.

In the meantime, the oft-repeated criticisms we have heard steadily from TE[pounds sterling]SyAD in the past about freedom of expression and the importance of democracy and the law have a new facet to them; while Erdoy-an used to reply immediately to such critiques, now no one even expects an answer from him.

Finally, assertions that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is planning on widening the breadth of its city wars in the Southeast on March 21 (Nevruz), as well as the apparent approach of the end of the civil war in Syria, should both be seen as actual developments likely to restrict and bind the rule of autocracy in Turkey. In both of these arenas -- the Southeast and Syria -- the palace finds itself holding up tired, deflated policies. When one combines the uprising started by Erdoy-an's former companions within the ranks of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the sharp criticism steadily flowing from the Turkish business world, and the chaotic war of words unfolding within the ruling party's media, it becomes clear that Erdoy-an's autocracy is facing some increasingly difficult challenges.

ME[pounds sterling]MTAZER TE[pounds sterling]RKEuNE [Cihan/Today's Zaman] CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Feb 14, 2016
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