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A friend in need

I am the least likely commentator on the CHP. I do not come from the tradition of the left. I have never voted for the CHP in my entire life. I am not particularly interested in its intrigues which, in fact, produce a dizzying effect on my brain. Nevertheless, here I am, writing extensively about the CHP's recent convention. My opinions on the matter have been sought after by other media outlets; even the BBC managed to get in a quick telephone interview with me. Back in Turkey, Hürriyet didn't miss an opportunity to splash my picture on its middle pages along with a claim that I'm a 'conspiracy theorist', on account of my analyses of what's been happening in the CHP.

One of the reasons that I have become interested in 'L'Affair CHP' is owing to the sorry state of the Turkish media. Our media takes sides on political issues very easily, especially when it concerns the CHP. The overwhelming majority of editors and columnists in the Turkish media are of a leftist inclination. In a candid moment, an editor of a major daily wrote a piece just before a general election that described an on-the-spot poll conducted on the paper's premises that found all but a few of those polled would cast votes for leftist parties. We learned from another column that, before a local election, a ballot was sent around after a journalists' dinner and almost all the diners ticked their preferences for the CHP or other leftist parties. Curiously, the waiters at the writers' tables were all in favor of the right-of-the-center or the religious parties.

Deniz Baykal, the leader of the CHP, complains rightfully that this reality in our media is a cause of concern for him. Journalists with leftist background, have eyes for politics and may aspire to become parliamentarians and, when the parties reject them, they become hostile. Some of their close relatives or friends happen to be involved in party politics and this fact, too, prompts the journalists to take sides in print. They talk and write a lot about the CHP, the apple of their eyes. Since they see Baykal as a veteran leftist politician at the pinnacle of the CHP's regime, they lay the blame for leftist party misfortunes at his podium.

The CHP as a party is dear to the hearts of the leftist-oriented media. But the CHP as a political heir and legal representative of Atatürk's shares in ??bank is even dearer to the minds of media bosses and they take close interest in its affairs. Forgive me for not indulging in this matter any further.

As a commentator without any leftist credentials, and as a humble journalist who does not think of his boss' pocketbook as his, I have no hidden agenda when I write about CHP, and the warring sides within it feel more comfortable with me than with some others.

Do not assume this is an easy undertaking. In my own TV-8 program, following my insistent questions to cross-examine his anti-Baykal views, a respected journalistic guest jokingly accused me of being the last of the Mohicans; ie. one of the very few commentators who do not write openly hostile articles about Deniz Baykal, the CHP leader. Being flabbergasted on a live television program, I could only splutter: "Me, supporter of Baykal?"

Of course, I have no personal preferences about who should lead the CHP. I can say I'm quite convinced that the CHP's present political line is outdated and that it cannot attract sufficient votes from the general public to enable it to reach power single-handedly. We are living in a time of drastic changes and the time itself changes everything. The AKP's fortunes serve us as testimony to the need for adjustment to changing times. By contrast, the CHP under the leadership of Baykal has been refusing to accommodate them.

When I raised this issue to his face by saying that he has been unable to transfer his own qualities to the party he leads, Baykal seemed to agree with me, and promised me to do better after the convention. Even if I received assurances from Deniz Baykal that he would lead his party more effectively after his victory in the recent party convention, I cannot hold myself responsible if the CHP actually does gear up for the future. It's really none of my business.

My getting shoulder to shoulder with Deniz Baykal at present is a result of camaraderie. I fought on the same front line with the CHP when the resolution of March 1, 2003, to allow American forces to invade Iraq from Turkey, was discussed and rejected by Parliament. The CHP was adamant not to give in to Washington's demands, and I was one of a very few analysts who were not convinced that Turkey had to be involved with the Neo-Cons' agenda. The Parliament, in an historic session, did not accept the government's motion to open Turkey to American troops' use as a military base of assault on Iraq.

That's when my being labeled as a 'conspiracy theorist' by Hürriyet came about.

Deniz Baykal believes that Washington was and still is not happy about what happened in that historic parliamentary session. So do I. The Americans did everything in their power to show their resentment and when certain CentCom elements in northern Iraq had an opportunity to take the issue into their hands, they put hoods on the heads of 11 of our officers. That unfortunate event created a lot of furor at the time. I do believe that, given the opportunity, Washington won't hesitate to take revenge for rejection of the resolution on everybody responsible. If this belief makes me a 'conspiracy theorist', then I willingly accept that label.

I am sure, these remarks have given away the reason that I've become involved with 'L'Affaire CHP', although I did so reluctantly. I could have done nothing about the incident of the hooding of our military officers in northern Iraq as I was far away from the place of action at the time; but I somehow feel I can do something to stop another attempt at revenge against a comrade in arms from that time. Remember what they say: A friend in need, a friend in deed.
From 'The New Anatolian', February 1, 2005.


1 Şubat 2005
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