Turkey’s Tough Road to Reform

There’s a lot to unpack regarding the Turkish Supreme Court closing the “Kurdish” DTP party. The move comes as the AKP party is rolling out its long-awaited Kurdish initiative. And although the DTP had begun to increasingly oppose the measure, by inflaming public opinion, the party’s closure is certain to be a blow to the effort toward national reconciliation. There’s a lot riding on Turkey resolving its Kurdish population’s grievances — domestically, in terms of national cohesion and bloodshed; and regionally, in terms of its relations with its neighbors. More broadly, an inclusive reconciliation would help Turkey’s EU aspirations, and increase the prospects for a stable northern Iraq, on which the Obama administration is counting.

But as Yigal Schleifer points out, if the court decision effectively sabotages that initiative, it should be more broadly understand in the context of Turkey’s ongoing struggle between those who wish to reform the state and those who don’t. Again, lots to unpack in terms of religious versus secular, Eastern-leaning versus Western-leaning, civilian versus military. But Schleifer’s post makes a compelling case that although the AKP government is attempting to carry out reforms in an implemental manner, the kinds of reform that are necessary will only be possible with an overhaul of the country’s constitution.

That’s a pretty perilous exercise for a country riddled with as many faultlines as Turkey. Stay tuned.