One of its right moves is how it is managing the dangerous crisis that has emerged after Syria shot down a Turkish jet in international air space -- deliberately, as I certainly believe.
In this crisis that has the potential to turn the whole region into a ring of fire given any impulsive move, the ruling AKP's cool-headed, fair-minded and insightful policy deserves strong backing. It is not the right time or place to discuss some steps, which I think were misguided, that contributed tension between the two countries to rise to the point of Syria's downing a Turkish jet. In the final analysis, we are currently facing a hostile and well-calculated attack Syria knowingly and deliberately staged against Turkey's credibility in the region. Apparently, the Assad administration had analyzed the regional and global conjuncture well in which Western powers are not lending any support to the Syrian opposition other than empty promises, particularly given Russian, Chinese and Iranian backing of the Assad regime. Based on this analysis, it must have concluded that Turkey would not act on impulse against Damascus. It must have planned this attack, which would be perceived as "intimidation" and would make Turkey realize that it would pay a price for its support for the Syrian opposition.
Despite the fact that when two jugs, one empty and the other full, collide, the greatest damage is done to the full one, Turkey will not certainly let this arrogant attack from the Assad regime -- which currently resembles to an empty jug -- go unpunished. Speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan clearly stated that this attack targeting Turkey's rising influence, persuasiveness and activities in the Middle East will be retaliated for in a manner and at a time and place that Turkey chooses. This will be a finely calibrated move that will not lead to a war with unpredictable consequences.
Yet, it should be noted that in order to prevent other attacks from Syria, Prime Minister Erdoğan declared Syria a "clear and present danger" for Turkey and stressed that the Turkish Armed Forces' (TSK) "rules of engagement" for Syria have changed. This is proof that what Turkey can do with its "soft power" -- which it has been using so far in the regional and global game -- has reached its limits. Accordingly, for the time being, Turkey is going through an unnamed paradigm change in the security and foreign policy it has been pursuing for the last 10 years.
Turkey is on the brink of putting its "hard power" into play in order to boost the persuasiveness and effectiveness of the "soft power" which it has been sustaining through economic, social, political and cultural engagement methods and diplomatic instruments to date. As formulated by "soft power" theoretician Joseph Nye, when it is necessary to make soft power more effective, "hard power" components may be utilized in a "smart power" policy. The 2010 Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left eight Turks and one Turkish American dead and the Syrian crisis -- which together indicate the limits of Turkey's soft power -- underline the fact that Turkey must have a strong economy, a consolidated national unity, cultural influence in the region with an increased effectiveness and a stable government as well as a powerful, striking and deterrent defense power that focuses solely on the defense of the country.
In the final analysis, we can say that the ruling AKP's approach to the Syrian crisis was correct to a great extent. Yet, we must also note that the same AKP is on the brink of making a gross error that would risk all of the democratic achievements of the last 10 years of great struggles. Indeed, the ruling AKP is preparing to abolish the specially authorized courts that have been successfully combating the coup perpetrators, juntas, deep state networks, terrorist organizations, organized criminal organizations and drug gangs. The AKP's motives in abolishing these courts are still not clear. And someone should explain why the “glad tidings” of the amendments to Article 250 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK) came from the voice recordings posted on the Internet of the generals and admirals who were arrested as part of the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government, and the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) coup plan.
As you will remember, in the voice recordings allegedly belonging to the Balyoz defendants like Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, Rear Admiral Fatih İlğar and Rear Admiral Cem Aziz Çakmak, it was said that the defendants would "be released from prison in two months' time (until the end of June)" and they would "take revenge" on those who are trying them "including their kids and families." Also, the first proposal for the abolition of the specially authorized courts was made by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and backed by the Workers' Party (İP). However, at that time important figures from inside the AKP including current Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek had warned against their abolition. Burhan Kuzu, the head of the parliamentary Constitution Commission, had said, "We cannot explain these changes to the public," while Gaziantep Deputy Şamil Tayyar expressed caution, saying, "The reforms of the last 10 years will be wasted."
This wrong move has created great concerns and dismay in all groups who have been lending full support to the AKP in its formidable quest for democratization. And the fact that it is being enthusiastically supported virtually by all groups that have been working to undermine the country's democratization efforts should be enough to show the sheer magnitude of the error that the AKP is about to make. The courts in question are conducting their activities under the supervision of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and the existing legal system is equipped with remedies for any errors these courts may make by accident or design. If there are deficiencies, these can be eliminated. Moreover, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has repeatedly declined the applications filed by various defendants raising objections to these courts, thereby implicitly endorsing the functioning of these courts. While there is the option for penalizing the individual cases of alleged errors by these courts, it is impossible to offer a satisfactory explanation for the complete abolition of these courts.
I said above that the ruling AKP has had more rights than wrongs in its performance since its coming to power in 2002. Yet, I must further add, sometimes an error may cancel out all those correct moves. The AKP's latest move concerning the specially authorized courts has the potential for proving to be such an error. This is just a piece of advice from our side.