Many people in Turkey have been talking about Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's march from Ankara to Istanbul. The demonstration kicked off after Enis Berberoğlu, a CHP parliamentarian, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges of espionage and disclosing state secrets.
Although the government has warned that Kılıçdaroğlu's march could serve the interests of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) operatives and their international sponsors by causing chaos, the opposition remains hopeful. A number of disenfranchised politicians who failed to stop the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) – let's call them the losers' club – tell themselves that this protest could change everything. For them, Kılıçdaroğlu's demonstration amounts to something between Gandhi's Salt March and Mao Zedong's Long March.
To be clear, there is no doubt that marching from Ankara to Istanbul indeed qualifies as a democratic right provided that it does not somehow lead to violent clashes. But before making historical references and jumping to conclusions about what Kılıçdaroğlu's march could entail, it would be best to take a good look at the state of Turkish politics today and the people leading the march.
To seasoned followers of Turkish politics like myself, the hype surrounding Kılıçdaroğlu's march is a reminder of exciting events in our political history. Whenever something like this happens, people like to talk about their renewed hopes as if a revolution were to happen the following day. For the record, the exact same thing happened when the CHP held Republican rallies in 2007 and during the Gezi Park uprisings of 2013. Time and again, what started out as supposedly civilian acts soured into calls for the military to overthrow elected officials and acts of vandalism.
In Turkey, hardly anyone has forgotten the aftertaste of tents being burned at Taksim Square before the Gezi events began. At the time, I remember writing that nothing good would come out of the then minor protests. Quite the contrary, it was ironic that violence would erupt on Turkey's streets as disarmament talks were taking place with the outlawed PKK.
Four years later, the same people want to give street protests another shot under the pretext of promoting justice – certainly a message that anyone can get behind. At first sight, the plan looks like it could work out for them. But the march is tangled in so much contradiction that there is virtually no way it could end well.
The main problem with the protest is that the many Turkish people do not trust the people leading the march. In recent years, the CHP leadership formed a thinly veiled alliance with FETÖ and proceeded to spread rumors about the July 15 coup attempt without evidence. To make matters worse, the main opposition party basically threw its weight behind the coup plotters by organizing protests against the backdrop of high-profile trials.
Sadly enough, the CHP decided to march from Ankara to Istanbul at a time when a number of foreign governments that bankrolled last summer's coup attempt are trying to impose a blockade on Turkey. Unwilling to take a jab at global imperialism, the so-called leftists participating in the march accuse Qatar and Turkey of supporting terrorist groups. Never mind that even Graham Fuller, the former CIA official who midwifed the birth of Fetullah Gülen's criminal empire, has been saying better things about Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now, take a step back and ask yourself whether Kılıçdaroğlu, the man who positioned himself at the heart of this mess, could convince the people of Turkey that he is a modern-day Gandhi. Will people believe that he is out to for justice? Quite the contrary, everybody knows that the CHP leadership just wants to overthrow Turkey's elected government. Having failed to beat the AK Party at the polls, they are looking for a detour.