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2023 | Book

Securitization and Authoritarianism

The AKP’s Oppression of Dissident Groups in Turkey

Authors: Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir

Publisher: Springer Nature Singapore


About this book

This book focuses on securitization and authoritarianism in Turkey with research on the country’s Islamist populist ruling party’s (AKP) oppression of different socio-political, ethnic and religious groups. In doing so, it analyzes how the AKP has securitized to oppress different socio-political groups and identities, according to the time and need for the party's political survival. Research in the book sheds light on the use of traumas, conspiracy theories, and fear as tools in the securitization and repression processes.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Autocratic Survival and Securitization
Authoritarianism is complex and involves multiple strategies and actors. However, one of the most important drives of authoritarianism is survival of the incumbent regimes. To ensure this survival, among many other tools, authoritarian regimes employ securitization, which legitimizes their use of any means necessary to vilify a constructed enemy. This is the case of Turkey, whose authoritarian regime under the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) needs to constantly produce securitization environments to ensure its survival. What makes Turkey an important case is the way it securitized, de-securitized, and re-securitized the same group(s) depending on its needs, to further the power grip, eliminate political threats, and ensure its survival.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Chapter 2. Securitization Theory and Its Expansion
This chapter explains the theory of securitization in detail and how it is being instrumentalized as a strategy for authoritarian survival. The chapter starts with the background of the theory and the main discussions in the growing literature on this theory and its expansion. It connects the introduction chapter to the rationale and explanatory power of the theory of securitization in the case of Turkey. In doing so, the chapter highlights the main developments in the theory in the recent decade, its conceptual and geographical expansion and the main theoretical contribution of the book.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Chapter 3. Turkish Securitization Culture
This chapter sets the historical scene contextualizing the variants of securitization that have been used in Turkey since the birth of the Kemalist Republic in 1923, with particular focus on the past two decades of the AKP governments. It aims at revealing the background of the traumas and insecurities shaping security conceptions of people in Turkey, from the secularist Kemalists to Erdoğanist Islamists, and the emergence of referent objects and designation of existential threats as significant others of both Kemalists and Islamists in Turkey.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Chapter 4. Securitization of Kemalists, White Turks, and Leftists
This chapter investigates the motives employed in the AKP regime’s securitization of the leftists, Kemalists, and pro-Western secularist sections of society who have been dubbed as White Turks, the privileged elite. The chapter first highlights the main characteristic of the AKP’s securitization, which is based on authoritarian right-wing populist discourse. Therefore, it contextualizes the link between populism and securitization and creates a frame to analyse the Erdoğanist securitization of Kemalists, secularists and leftists. Then it reveals the historical building blocks supporting this process of securitization in the eye of conservative Muslim majority of the country. In the end, it concludes that the Islamists have seen the Kemalists with their aggressive secularization agenda as agents of the West to colonize the country and the people. Erdoğan’s regime has relied on this victimhood background in securitization of Kemalists secular opposition to be able to popularize its attempt of securitization.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Chapter 5. Securitization of Islamic Groups and Parties
This chapter focuses on the securitization of Islamic groups and movements in opposition such as the Gülen Movement, the Furkan Foundation, and the influential figures such as once Erdoğan’s closest confidants, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, former President Abdullah Gul, and former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, some of whom formed their own political parties. It is argued in the chapter that the securitization of religious figures and movements show an important feature of political Islam in Turkey. This feature is “Islam [is] for politics” rather than “politics in the ‘service’ of religion”.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Chapter 6. Securitization of the Kurds
This chapter analyses the AKP regime’s approach to the dissident Kurds and Kurdish political movement through the lens of securitization theory. Kurds’ experience of securitization under the AKP regime has been quite different. Despite a brief period of de-securitization by the AKP, the Kurds were later re-securitized when it became clear that the AKP would not be able to co-opt them. This chapter mainly focuses on the motives behind this latest policy shift towards the Kurds as the Kurdish securitization has already been studied in great detailed in the literature.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Chapter 7. Securitization of the Alevis
This chapter analyses the Turkish state’s relations with the Alevi community through securitization theory framework. The chapter firstly looks at the Alevis from a historical context, analysing both Kemalist and Erdoğanist policies, highlighting that despite the ideological differences between the AKP and the previous governments, for Alevis much has remained the same. Secondly, this chapter analyses the issue of Alevis through a securitization lens. It shows that de-securitization of an issue is not the end of the securitization, and political expedience can pave the way for re-securitization of every issue.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Chapter 8. Fruits of Securitization
Securitization is done for a purpose. It is a tool rather than a goal. That has been the case with Erdoğan’s Turkey. This chapter discusses briefly how Erdoğan has used securitization as a tool to grab the power in Turkey and ensure its authoritarianist grip of power. Erdoğan and the AKP employed securitization to change the regime, which they successfully did from a parliamentarian system to a presidential system. And finally, they are employing securitization to bring their domestic issues into the transnational level, where they influence the diaspora communities, and call them to action.
Ihsan Yilmaz, Erdoan Shipoli, Mustafa Demir
Securitization and Authoritarianism
Ihsan Yilmaz
Erdoan Shipoli
Mustafa Demir
Copyright Year
Springer Nature Singapore
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN