News & Politics

Turkish Opposition Leader: Government Has Turned Country Into a 'Swamp of Terrorists'

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a rally in Bayburt, Turkey, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool )

Turkey’s main opposition leader has some harsh words for his country’s Islamist-led government. During his party’s weekly parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused the Erdoğan government of turning Turkey into a “swamp of terrorism.” He added:

Who do you think turned a blind eye to the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK piling up of weapons within our borders? Governors and security forces were ordered [by the AKP government] not to touch PKK militants and in return they [the PKK] took up arms. This government, which has turned Turkey into a swamp of terrorism, is no longer capable of ruling Turkey and solving the issue of terrorism.

Turkish police have been clashing with Kurdish protesters in the city of Diyarbakır for months now. The city has been on complete lockdown with days-long curfews. On Monday, three other southeastern districts suffered the same fate.

Although the government says the curfews are meant to combat the PKK — a leftist terrorist organization fighting for an independent Kurdish state — many critics view it as just an excuse to increase the government’s power. As Kılıçdaroğlu pointed out yesterday, the government first allowed the PKK to rearm itself, and is now crying foul. Something smells fishy.

The CHP leader also lashed out at the government for abolishing the freedom of the press, calling the mass arrests of critical journalists a “great shame.”

According to the results of this year’s United Nations human development report, Turkey is currently in 72nd place. Who brought this country down to this level? We need to think about this. Right now, there are currently 32 journalists in prison. It’s a great shame for Turkey that 32 journalists are imprisoned in the 21st century. Turkey has turned into a semi-open prison.

Although President Erdoğan’s party won the elections last month, it received less than 50 percent of the vote. Slightly more than half the Turkish people do not support the government’s policies. And that narrow majority is becoming angrier by the day.

Kılıçdaroğlu understands this and is trying to rally those voters around his party. The only problem is that Erdoğan’s party enjoys a majority of seats in Parliament, which means that Kılıçdaroğlu and his CHP have little to no real influence and power. Kılıçdaroğlu can defend democracy all he wants, but it won’t have an impact until the AKP loses its majority in parliament.

And that won’t happen anytime soon; the next elections will be held in 2019. This means that Erdoğan has four more years to crack down on the press and use terrorism as an excuse to grab even more power. There is nothing the brave Kılıçdaroğlu can do about it.