Location Turkey Turkey

Two leaders of Turkish left party persecuted by the establishment but strike back

As the state of emergency regime of Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP steps up its persecution of working class and Kurdish opposition, two prominent leaders of the younger generation of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party (DIP) have been submitted to persecution. Levent Dölek, Deputy Chairperson of DIP and a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics of Istanbul University, was among a group of social fighters at the university who were expelled from their posts by a government decree. Mert Kükrer, on the other hand, a leader of the Ankara branch of the party and research assistant and doctoral candidate at the Middle East Technical University of Ankara, was, for a second time, threatened by the administration of his university with expulsion in an act that blatantly makes opportunistic use of the state of emergency reigning in the country since the failed coup of 15 July this year.

Tayyip Erdogan signs Law Decree that expels Levent and colleagues from their posts

Levent Dölek and his colleagues were sacked through a Decree Law passed by none other than the council of ministers meeting under the chairmanship of Tayyip Erdogan. They were charged with the laughable crime of their supposed link to a terrorist organisation The true reason for the sacking of Levent and his colleagues is clear to all who know the situation at Istanbul University. Levent was one of the most prominent leaders of a very militant movement back in 2008-2009 fighting for the job security of research assistants at the university. At a certain stage of the struggle, the movement went so far as to occupy overnight a lecture hall in the Faculty of Science building, as well as doing the same with the office of the president of the university on another day.

Spasmodic development

So the government is now at war with everyone! Not only is it ferociously attacking the Gulen fraternity, but it is trying to gag all opposition to itself. The paper Cumhuriyet, one that could be very broadly described as the counterpart of Le Monde or The Guardian or Il Corriere della Sera in the local context, is now being harassed with raids and the arrest of a dozen journalists. Overall 130 media outlets have been shut down. And things are deteriorating by the day. The government is also at war with the Middle East, raising the stakes by the day in both Syria and Iraq.

After the coup, Erdogan found himself almost isolated internationally and without the firm support of any of the repressive organs of the Turkish state domestically. But once again, as back in 2013, when Erdogan was shaken by the twin earthquakes of the Gezi popular rebellion and the corruption scandals, or in 2015, when he lost the elections in June and faced the terrible prospect of prosecution for corruption, his former enemies from within the ranks of the bourgeoisie have come to his help. The so-called “National Consensus” of parties, supposedly established to defend democracy in the face of the coup attempt (!), brought together the AKP not only with the fascist MHP, but with the party of Ataturk, the CHP as well, gave him a new lease of life. Three months later, having consolidated his power once again after a shaky beginning in the wake of the coup, Erdogan is now more and more prepared to abandon the CHP, whereas he has established a very close anti-Kurdish chauvinistic alliance with the fascist leader of the MHP. His star once again seems to be rising. This new alliance may give him the executive presidency he has so long yearned for and practised de facto since taking over the largely ceremonial office of the president of the republic in 2014. Rabiism, the Sunni sectarian project of the AKP of dominating the Arab world and beyond, is feverishly working to open up spaces for the “Rais” (the Leader) in the Middle East.

However, there are also immense difficulties. Erdogan is playing with fire in Iraq and Syria. In effect he is playing the game of the Saudi rentier state by fanning the flames of a war with Iran, which can only take the form of Islamic fratricide between the Sunni and the Shia. Domestically, the failed coup of the summer still remains shrouded in mystery. Many indicators suggest that the top brass, the intelligence agency (MIT) and even a part of the AKP organisation may have initially supported the coup initiative but desisted at the last moment. This implies that there is profound unease with the way Erdogan handles both domestic matters and international relations. One reason for the support a majority of the working class extends to Erdogan is the rather steady growth of the economy up until the recent period. But now crisis looms large in the horizon. Layoffs may fan the repressed anger of the working class in the face of a systematic policy of the destruction of workers’ previous gains and rights and, most importantly, their job security, a policy that has continued under the AKP, owes its origins to the military junta.

So the decisive battles are ahead.

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