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HomeHeadlineMexican Standoff in Ankara: Political Maneuvering Heightens as Leaders Draw Lines

Mexican Standoff in Ankara: Political Maneuvering Heightens as Leaders Draw Lines

One of the most striking scenes from Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” is this: Three characters point guns at each other. No one can make the first move because everyone is vulnerable to each other. This is referred to as a “Mexican standoff.”

On the day that CHP leader Özgür Özel (candidate for the Union of Municipalities of Turkey) spoke with IYI Party leader Müsavat Dervişoğlu over the phone, Meral Akşener went to the Palace. The Palace announced this with great fanfare. Fahrettin Altun first provided the details of the meeting’s time and place, followed by the release of two photographs heralding the meeting.

Akşener, who has been managing her relations with the Palace behind closed doors for some time, is now officially in alliance. What does her hair color matter to anyone!

On the same day, the leak of Erdoğan’s meeting with Abdullah Gül was also very telling. Remember, in 2018 Akşener blocked Gül’s candidacy for president, exposing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Temel Karamollaoğlu, who had wanted to pit Gül against Erdoğan.

Aytun Çıray, a founder of the IYI Party, claimed that a promise of an ambassadorship was made to a member of Akşener’s family. It could be true, but the issue isn’t about the position itself.

After Erdoğan’s defeat on March 31, he needed time. Similar to the exploratory coalition talks in 2015, CHP leader Özel scheduled meetings to gain this time, and now Erdoğan is setting up a new game. Some argue that Erdoğan is “a puppet of the backstage game-setters.” Regardless of whether there’s someone pulling the strings behind the scenes, it’s clear that a game is being played.

Aytun Çıray reported that Akşener, who dissolved the Six-Party Table on March 3, 2023, said, “I have done my final duty to my state!” This claim has been repeated on all the screens she has appeared on and has not been denied.

As the local elections approach, Akşener’s situation has deteriorated, and she couldn’t hold back tears during one of her last group meetings in the parliament.

She then left the party leadership to a caretaker and took a break. However, no one expected her to return so soon. She transferred the party leadership on May 1, Wednesday, and returned to the field five weeks later on another Wednesday.

You might say, “This is a courtesy visit. Akşener will return home again. Watch and see, she won’t appear much in public.”

That’s not quite how things work in Ankara.

Akşener could have met with Erdoğan without anyone knowing. That wasn’t the case. This is political engineering. By visiting the Palace, Akşener has aligned with the center of state power transfer and updated her role as the sole center of attraction in the IYI Party with Erdoğan’s assistance.

The party base is against Erdoğan. In this context, a role like “vice president” could backfire. She gained 43 deputies on May 14, 2023, but that number dropped to 36 within a year. Akşener may be considering how to stop the bleeding within the party rather than openly siding with the Palace.

Meanwhile, Ekrem İmamoğlu, now holding an office in Ankara as the head of the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, can travel across Turkey without heeding attacks, wearing this hat. No one can say, “What does the mayor of Istanbul have to do in Diyarbakır!”

The tension with MHP over the Ayhan Bora Kaplan and Sinan Ateş cases seems to be on ‘pause’ for now. The operation to appoint trustees to DEM Party municipalities started before the delayed local elections in Northern Syria (Rojava).

Tayyip Erdoğan stated, “Hakkari was the first step. The law has done what’s necessary. And it will continue to do so,” indicating more to come.

Following the election, the CHP’s tepid response to the usurpation of national will in Hakkari should be noted.

Ekrem İmamoğlu did not hide his discomfort but spoke more cautiously than before: “I think this really harms local democracy, from knowing how people cling to their votes while voting, it seems to have severed its ties with democracy.”

A “Mexican standoff” is taking place in Ankara, where everyone has drawn their guns. If the guns go off, everyone could fall; if not, the tense situation will continue.


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