‘Tariq Ali talks to the scholar and academic Sungur Savran, about the ongoing crisis in Turkey, a country backed by NATO and run by an Islamist government led by Tayyip Erdoğan. Published on Oct 21, 2015’.
Sungur Savran is based in Istanbul and is one of the editors of the newspaper Gerçek and the theoretical journal Devrimci Marksizm, and of the web site RedMed. And he wrote recently that the “Middle East and North Africa is rapidly moving towards a situation of civil war within the Islamic world between the Sunni and the Shia (the latter in alliance with the Alevis). Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the main instigators of the Sunni camp while Iran, of course, is the leading force of the Shia camp. Erdoğan’s dream is (or should one perhaps say “was”) to lead the Sunni populations in this kind of struggle for supremacy within the Islamic world. This is a dream that is rooted in the glory of the Ottoman past. This immediately implies the reconstitution of the umma, the Islamic community at large, under the guidance of the Caliphate, which was abolished by the young republic in 1924. This abolition the Islamists in Turkey have never been able to digest. This kind of sectarian war within Islam will be a re-edition of the religious wars of Western Europe with redoubled violence. It is to be avoided at all costs. The Erdoğan camp, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran are playing with fire. This extreme threat in the Middle East and North Africa has to be countered by those forces that have no stake in the ground rent generated by oil and natural gas and in the so-called Sharia-compliant finance of the Arab world. Viewed from the regional angle, the Syrian civil war is precisely a proxy war between these two camps. Erdoğan is the frontline leader of the Sunni-sectarian camp. To even start to command the allegiance of the rest of the Sunni world, Erdoğan has to win his war for survival inside Turkey. In this he has thrown his lot with the takfiri, Sunni-sectarian forces inside and outside the country. This is leading Turkey to the precipice of Syrianisation. Turkey is, on the other hand, a country full of ebullition. Revolts of different kind have succeeded on each other’s heels within the last two years. One year after the waning of the Gezi popular revolt, so powerful in the western cities of the country but not in Turkish Kurdistan, a serhildan, i.e. a popular uprising of the Kurdish population broke out for a week in support of Kobane fighting ISIL. In neither of these momentous events was the working class present as a class. However, in the month of May this year a struggle that brought tens of thousands of metalworkers erupted, spreading from its original hometown in Bursa, an industrial hub near Istanbul, to many other industrial centres. After a long period of dormancy, the working class is now back in action. So this is a society that is also full of promises. It is only by overcoming the divisions between the three forces that are represented by these three waves of struggle that the progressive forces can win. And here two things are crucial: fraternity between the Turk and the Kurd and the entry of the working class onto the political scene. Should these two conditions come together, Turkey will not only see the domestic balance of forces shift decisively in favour of a progressive solution to its political crisis, but can also act as the triggering factor for a forward-looking solution, in a process of permanent revolution, to the problems that the whole Middle East faces”.