The killing last Wednesday of 35 Kurdish villagers in a botched Turkish airstrike against what were thought to be Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants has, naturally, only further increased political tensions in Turkey and ushered in a new round in the ongoing war of words between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
Speaking to the AKP's parliamentary delegation today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan angrily accused the BDP of "abusing" the event, which took place near the Iraqi border in Southeast Turkey. From Today's Zaman:
In an angry speech delivered at his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Erdoğan said: “Whoever makes the issue an ethnic one by saying 35 Kurds were killed, they are trampling all kinds of humanitarian values. … We approach this incident as 35 people losing their lives in Uludere. We regard this issue as 35 citizens, 35 brothers who lost their lives. But they [the BDP] are making the issue an ethnic one. …. Those who classify the deaths as Kurdish and Turkish are following the path of the devil.”
Kurdish politicians, in turn, accused Erdogan of lashing out at the BDP in order to deflect attention away from the details of what happened on the border. “I was ashamed to be human as I listened to the prime minister's speech,” BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas told his own parliamentary group today.
AKP officials have indicated that compensation will be given to the families of the 35 victims of the botched raid, who were reportedly killed while smuggling fuel and sugar across the border, but that no apology will be issued until an investigation is completed.
But in a very good column in Today's Zaman, political scientist Ihsan Dagi points out that regardless of what any investigation of the event yields, the killing of the 35 villagers will likely prove to be a significant turning point for the AKP. While the party had previously been able to portray itself as an outsider battling the unaccountable forces of a sclerotic Turkish state, after nearly a decade in power and numerous successes in reshaping the state's various institutions (including the powerful military), the AKP is now itself the state and, thus, must be held accountable for its actions. From this column:
The intelligence mistakes that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) makes, whose president is the appointee of the government, are the mistakes of the AK Party government. It is no longer possible to escape criticism by pointing to the state. Such a defense is no longer possible. The state is the AK Party.
The operational mistakes of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), whose commanders are appointed by the government, are the mistakes of the AK Party. So when the Taraf daily runs a headline like “The state bombs its own people,” it is a state that includes the AK Party. Knowing this, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan comes out and says, “The state does not bomb its own people.” But it was him who apologized only a week ago for the massacre of the people in Dersim by the state, which bombed the entire area back in 1937-1938. A government in control of the “state” is accountable to the people for whatever the state does....
....The AK Party cannot hide behind the excuse that it cannot control certain “reactionary” institutions within the state.
The full column, worth reading, can be found here.