Three politically motivated assaults on figures critical of the government’s nationalist ally rattled the Turkish capital last week. The brazen violence sent shockwaves across opposition quarters, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also seems to have gotten food for thought.
The victims were Selcuk Ozdag, deputy chair of the opposition Future Party, Orhan Uguroglu, a journalist heading the Ankara office of the daily Yenicag, and Afsin Hatipoglu, a lawyer who hosts a TV program on a channel critical of the government, all battered in broad daylight outside their homes by masked men wielding sticks and guns.
What did the victims have in common? All had vocally criticized the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the election ally and de facto government partner of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), days before the attacks. More importantly, they all come from nationalist political background, but have become critics of the MHP, the backbone of Turkey’s nationalist movement, over its alliance with the AKP. Hatipoglu, for instance, is a former head of the ultra-nationalist Idealist Hearths, known also as the Grey Wolves. The rift within the MHP has already spawned a splinter party that has aligned with the main opposition. AKP defectors, too, have formed new parties, including the Future Party, led by former Premier Ahmet Davutoglu.