Politics

A long, hot summer for Türkiye

A long, hot summer is ahead of Türkiye. I’m not just talking about the rising temperatures, and the even more severe ones predicted for later this summer due to climate change. We are also going to face a very heated agenda both domestically and globally. (Photo: Presidency)

A long, hot summer is ahead of Türkiye. I’m not just talking about the rising temperatures, and the even more severe ones predicted for later this summer due to climate change. We are also going to face a very heated agenda both domestically and globally.

Hot debates: Constitutional Court decisions

The recent delayed decisions of the Constitutional Court cannot be coincidental. As known, Article 153/2 of the Constitution clearly states that the annulment decisions of the Constitutional Court shall not have retroactive effect. The government has been given a year to enact new regulations in place of those annulled. Therefore, while politically significant, these decisions do not have a high practical value at the moment. Considering that the majority of the Constitutional Court members were appointed by the current administration, it is conceivable that this decision has other purposes, including providing ammunition for the ongoing constitutional amendment efforts.

AKP-MHP rivalry

The AKP-MHP rivalry, which forms the two main pillars of the ruling bloc, may intensify in the coming months. The fact that the AKP emerged as the second party for the first time in its history in the March 31 local elections, and the subsequent continued decline in voter support, raised the question of whether an “early election” might be possible.

The responsible and result-oriented opposition approach put forth by the CHP had pushed this question to the background. There were those who feared and opposed the “delay” point reached in the process that President Erdoğan called “softening” and CHP Chairman Özel described as “normalization.” Particularly, the MHP was not pleased with this rapprochement and the expectations created by this process; it is no secret that Devlet Bahceli communicated his position to Erdoğan with unmistakable clarity.

The Kobani Case, the election of the Court of Cassation president, preparations for the new Judicial Package, the Curriculum of Education, the May 1 arrests, and the trustee policies indicated that the changes expected by the CHP would not come. Therefore, Özel, under significant pressure due to the criticisms that Erdoğan remains a decisive force despite being a “lame duck” in politics, the AKP is given a chance to recover, and the CHP opposition is ineffective, for the first time sent a message saying, “If this continues, the people will demand early elections, and no one can stop it.”

In other words, the “genie is out of the bottle” and the AKP will no longer have the complacency of “no elections for four years.” This expectation will inevitably reflect on the economy, foreign policy, and security strategies.

Russia and Ukraine

As I wrote before, this summer Russia will want to finish the “business” with Ukraine. The West will either leave Ukraine to its fate (which is a weak possibility) or hit Russia hard alongside Ukraine, in other words, heating things up right next to us. Biden’s restrictive permission for the use of American weapons against Russia is the first sign of this. Macron’s statements about sending NATO troops should also be read in this context.

Here, the position Türkiye, a NATO member and neighbour to both Russia and Ukraine, will take in the upcoming hot months is of critical importance for both Russia and the West.

PKK/YPG elections in Northern Syria

The elections that the PKK/YPG will hold on June 11 in northern Syria are “game-changer” in nature, whether they happen or are prevented.

After Türkiye’s strong reaction, declaring it will not allow the establishment of a new “terrorist state” in the region, other protests also rose in the region. Following the cautious (but not questioning the legitimacy of the elections) statement by the US, it was notable that Barzani supporters in the Kurdish region of Iraq declared that the election was not the election of the Kurds. This, reflecting the Barzani-Talabani confrontation, shows the disagreement among the Kurds, and even who stands behind whom.

The most surprising is that the Assad administration has not yet reacted to this election, which will be held on its sovereign territory. Russia’s stance is also not yet clear. The most important thing is what concrete actions Türkiye, whose national security it said will be threatened by these elections, will take.

High-Level meetings in Beijing

After a long hiatus, what else was discussed in the high-level meetings in Beijing beyond the known files?

The Chinese side preferred to use in the words of its Foreign Minister the expression, “We must oppose foreign forces interfering in the internal affairs of the two countries under the pretext of democracy and human rights,” indicating that the parties agreed to respect each other’s core interests and sensitivities.

We also need to understand the background of Fidan’s visit to China’s “soft underbelly,” the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Moreover, what does Ankara expect from relations with China and what kind of gains have it achieved in the last visit?

Türkiye and BRICS

Another hot topic is Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s statement that Türkiye could become a member of BRICS, and that the issue will be on the agenda at the next summit, and Fidan’s response to the question of whether Türkiye wants to join BRICS during his Beijing contacts, saying, “Of course, why wouldn’t we?”

It is curious how Fidan will be received at the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Russia on June 10-11, and whether membership will be discussed. It was known that Russia and China had different views on this issue; will China’s stance change after Fidan’s recent visit to Beijing?

Founded in 2006 as BRIC by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, the organization became BRICS with the addition of South Africa. With the expansion decision taken last year, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates joined the group. Argentina withdrew its application while Saudi Arabia put its membership process on hold.

The answer to the question “BRICS membership or strengthening cooperation mechanisms?” could be a turning point in Türkiye’s relations with the West. My guess is that BRICS membership will not be considered at a time when economic fragility continues and efforts to “recalibrate” relations with the West are ongoing, and it is understood that no concrete benefit will come from BRICS.

Hot dynamics: Middle East

With Israel’s Gaza attacks and massacres, both an uncertain ceasefire (which the US announced Israel accepted) is being discussed and efforts to reshape the Middle East as part of a larger picture.

The death of the Iranian president in a helicopter “accident,” the revival of Israel-Saudi Arabia relations under Washington’s mediation, the preservation of the Abraham Accords between the Gulf and Israel, Türkiye normalization of relations with the entire Arab world (except for Syria), the agreement with Iraq on the Development Road project, and the reintroduction of the Kurdish card with the PKK elections, as mentioned above, are all interconnected.

US Elections and global implications

Trump still has a high chance of winning the November elections. If he takes office at the beginning of 2025, both the global economic and security architecture, relations with the EU, Russia, and China, and US-Türkiye relations could undergo significant transformations.

Many international players believe that the summer months ahead are the only window of opportunity to prepare for the post-Biden era and are moving in this direction.

All these dynamics we have listed above indicate how hot this summer will be in and for Türkiye. There are other developments that will increase the heat, but let’s leave them for the next article.

Mehmet Öğütçü

The London Energy Club - Chair

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