Erdogan’s Cunning Rise to Dictatorship
ترکی : خلافت سے ملوکیت تک
This is the 4th in a series of blogs on the reality of modern Turkey under Erdogan, unknown by many Muslims around the world. This blog looks into Erdogan’s cunning rise to dictatorship, culminating in the rigged success in the referendum, which will give him unprecedented powers, unheard of in today’s ‘democracies’.
Playing the Islam Card
The secret to Erdoğan, I believe is that his Islamism has always been a diversion; he has been playing the Islam card much better than any political party of Pakistan.
He artfully penetrated the consciousness of the Turkish public while using Islam as the undisputed pathway that ‘will lead Turkey to greatness’.
What Islamists like Jamaati Islami, Pakistan have to realize is that allowing Hijab and beard is not a big deal. These are allowed in many western countries including USA.
The Gold Standard of an Islamic government is doing away with Interest based banking which includes saying good bye to Zionist-owned central bank. Turkey still has a Rothchilds-owned central bank!
The only countries left WITHOUT Zionist-owned central bank include N. Korea, Iran and Cuba. Russia and China are also doing away with the American dollar.
Another Gold Standard of a true Islamic government is to cut off military alliances with Non-Muslim countries like NATO. Turkey continues to remain a NATO member and a close ally of USA.
Islam does not allow for the kind of authoritarian rule or dictatorship or monarchy that he has enforced.
One can still not by Turkish law recall/mention, the name of Istanbul, as Constantinople. Why?
Islam does not allow for imprisoning, torturing, killing of people without a legal fair trial as is being done in Turkey.
Islam does NOT allow for corruption and nepotism as his party is doing.
Turkey remains mostly a secular country, which is contrary to Islamic teachings.
If the Turkish conservative Muslims and JI Pakistan are still supporting him despite all these major faults, then either they don’t know much of Islam, they have been so much brain-washed/influenced by the long years of secular rule or they have knowingly made a bad compromise.
Such compromises on Deen never succeed.
All these facts prove that all he cares about is not so much the power of his religion as power for himself.
Erdogan is using Sunni Islam to promote the country as a republic with Islamic ideals supported by a loyal state apparatus. He portrays himself as the leader of the Sunni world that would restore the Ottoman era of influence while cementing his authoritarian rule in the form of a neo-Sultan.
Erdogan’s Family, Party and Islam
Although Erdoğan rarely invoked Islam in public—he initially left the head-scarf ban intact—his conservatism sometimes seemed to cause him embarrassment. His wife never shook hands with other men.
In 2002, at a gathering of Erdoğan’s supporters, one of the guests told him that his wife’s habit was a liability. “She told Erdoğan, this is not modern, this is embarrassing to you,” Ilıcak said. “He was very upset. I don’t think he had noticed.”
Soon, Emine started shaking hands with men. “I think Erdoğan has become much more sophisticated since those early days,” Ilıcak said. “It was just a matter of travelling abroad. He’d never been anywhere.”
Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, who for a time was one of Erdoğan’s closest advisers, states, “Our view had always been that leaders could be secular but that the system needed to be Islamic. But, every time we tried that, we were closed down. We learned from our experience. We had to water it down.”
According to Fırat, Erdoğan and his allies agreed on something close to the opposite of the old dream: Turkey’s new leaders could be pious in their personal behavior, but they would leave the secular order untouched. The organization they founded, Justice and Development—the A.K. Party—put forward candidates who had moderate views. The most ardently Islamist candidates were excluded from the party.
Among the indictment’s other fantastical aspects are the assertion that the American Mafia is an “ethnic terrorist organization” run by the Pentagon, and that the National Intelligence Organization, Turkey’s premier spy agency, is under the “complete control” of the C.I.A.
One general, Pearson said, told him that he blamed the United States for the A.K. Party’s victory in 2002, because it wanted moderate Islam to succeed in Turkey. “The military was quite bitter about this,” he added.
Erdogan, his party and family have been involved in corruption as posted in early blogs:
Still Holding on to NATO Membership & USA as Ally
“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.”
(Holy Quran 5: 51)
“Ever since our NATO membership in 1952, the North Atlantic Alliance has played a central role in Turkey’s security and contributed to its integration with the Euro-Atlantic community. Turkey, in return, has successfully assumed its responsibilities in defending the common values of the Alliance.
Turkey attaches the utmost importance to NATO’s role in maintaining security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and in providing a forum for political-military consultations on topics of interest to its members.
The success of current and future missions and operations will play a crucial role in shaping NATO’s future. Turkey will continue to provide appropriate support to these operations….. ”
From Turkish government’s own website:
NATO has Patriot missiles and AWACS aircraft deployed in Turkey.
Turkey has the second-largest number of ground troops in NATO
Turkey has a US Airbase for combat missions in Syria.
Turkey helped USA & NATO in the war against Assad & Syria
Turkey has been bending its relations with USA and NATO according to its own national interests, NOT according to Islamic values.
This has been discussed in detail in this blog:
UK report finds no evidence that Gulen movement was the architect of Turkey coup.
Only in the past week, UK, German spy chief and U.S. House intel chair said seen no evidence on Gulen’s involvement.
Suppressing the Opposition
After the failed coup last summer, Erdoğan began moving to crush the main opposition party, H.D.P.’s leadership—he knew, given the history of the relationship between Kurds and the central government, that they would never endorse an expansion of the President’s powers. Along with its leader Demirtaş, twelve other H.D.P. members of parliament have recently been jailed.
According to Human Rights Watch, which released a new report on Turkey’s deteriorating situation this week, more than five thousand members of the H.D.P. and another locally based Kurdish party, the B.D.P., are currently behind bars, and the mayors of eighty-two Kurdish towns have been summarily sacked and replaced by Erdoğan’s agents.
“Erdoğan knew that he couldn’t count on the H.D.P., so he just took them out of the picture,’’ Emma Sinclair-Webb, Human Rights Watch’s Turkey director, told me.
The West seems intent on ignoring all this which is unusual: an increasingly harsh campaign to crush domestic opposition. In the past five years, more than seven hundred people have been arrested, including generals, admirals, members of parliament, newspaper editors and other journalists, owners of television networks, directors of charitable organizations, and university officials. Some fifteen per cent of the active admirals and generals in the Turkish armed forces are now on trial for conspiring to overthrow the government.
Erdogan’s Intolerance to Criticism
Erdoğan seems less and less inclined to tolerate any but the mildest criticism. He has urged Turks to boycott newspapers that are unsympathetic to him, and attacks individual columnists. Nuray Mert, the columnist for Milliyet, stated that after Erdoğan criticized a statement she made in an interview, a public-affairs television show that she hosted was cancelled. Two weeks ago, she was fired from her job as a columnist. She now fears for her safety. “There are a lot of things that I don’t do anymore because I am afraid,” she told me.
Another example of Erdoğan’s tactics is an assault on Dogýan Holding, which owns newspapers and television stations and, until recently, was one of the country’s most powerful companies; it also has extensive interests in energy and insurance. For decades, newspapers and television stations controlled by Dogýan Holding curried favor with the government and the Army; critics of Hürriyet, Dogýan’s flagship newspaper, say that it often published fabricated stories that aroused public fear and allowed the government to justify taking repressive measures.
This also has been discussed in detail in this blog:
A famous journalist’s regular account of the situation:
“50,000 were put in prison. 140,000 were fired. 1,000 multi-million companies have been seized. 57 people were tortured to death or committed suicide.
Only yesterday, a doctor who was arrested in connection with the coup died in prison.
And they are teeny tiny fraction of 50,000 imprisoned — teachers, doctors, judges, police officers, even baklava sellers.
All of these people were imprisoned because Erdogan said so.
More than 150 journalists were arrested, including 52 only from my newspaper. 149 media outlets were shut down
Those purged from public jobs were banned to work there again. Their passports revoked, forced to flee by boats to Greece. Died on their way
Tens of thousands of people have been imprisoned, many of them tortured, for almost 9 months now. No indictment, no trial.
Turkish parliamentary commission tasked with investigating the coup attempt took place behind closed doors and shortly after shut down.
Those countries who are not democratic, such as Jordan and Sudan, shut down Gulen-linked schools and orphanages under Turkey’s pressure.
As evidence, there was only forced confessions. No single shred of hard evidence was presented to indicate that Erdogan’s claims are true.
No journalist, academic or lawyer was allowed to challenge the official narrative. They either lost their job or freedom
Erdogan declared state of emergency, jailed almost all dissidents, including rival politicians, non-loyalist judges and critical journalists
Erdogan introduced constitutional changes that would grant him vast, sweeping powers. This is the moment he waited for many years.
I have 52 colleagues in prison at the moment. One of them was my roommate. With others, I worked together for years.”
The Actual Purpose of the Referendum
Erdogan’s role model is Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (meaning “Father of the Turks”), who founded the Turkish Republic in 1923. Both share similar personal attributes as they sought to lead the nation with an iron fist while disregarding any separation of power. However, Atatürk was determined to establish a Westernized secular democratic state while Erdogan went in the opposite direction.
Erdogan steadily moved to create a theocracy where Islamic tradition and values reign supreme while assuming Atatürk’s image, which is revered by most Turks. Erdogan presents himself as one who leads with determination and purpose, generating power from his popular support, ultimately seeking to replace Atatürk; with the new amendments to the constitution, he will be endowed with powers even greater than Atatürk ever held.
Erdoğan, who came to power following nationwide elections in 2002, has spent the past decade doing his best to strangle Turkey’s democratic order. It seems clear that Erdoğan, intends to arrogate dictatorial powers to himself, have them ratified by a subservient political order, and stay in power for many years to come.
Erdogan abandoned much of the impressive democratic reforms he championed and dismantled the pillars of democracy. He amassed unprecedented powers and transformed Turkey from a democratic to an autocratic country, ensuring that he has the last word on all matters of state.
In retrospect, it appears that Erdogan had never committed himself to a democratic form of government. The reforms he undertook during his first nine years in power were largely induced by the European Union’s requirements from any country seeking membership, which he exploited as a means by which to propel himself toward his ultimate goal. A quote attributed to him in 1999 describes precisely what his real intentions were from the day he rose to power. “Democracy” he said, “is like a bus, when you arrive at your destination, you step off.”
The referendum proposed to radically alter that system, eliminate the position of Prime Minister, drastically curtail the powers of parliament, scale back the independence of the judiciary, and vest sweeping powers in the Presidency. What’s more, the new constitution would give Erdoğan the right to run for two more five-year terms, potentially giving him another decade in power.
The American response to this intensifying repression has been tepid. President Barack Obama has developed a close relationship with Erdoğan, whom he regards as a dynamic and democratically minded leader.
Pre-Referendum ‘Rigging’-Continuation of Purge
Turks campaigning against the referendum were attacked and even shot at. For much of the past year, Erdoğan’s government has been working to stamp out what remained of the democratic opposition to his rule. Since July, some forty thousand people have been detained, including a hundred and fifty journalists.
A hundred thousand government employees have been fired, and a hundred and seventy-nine television stations, newspapers, and other media outlets have been closed. Many opposition leaders are in jail. That’s not an environment conducive to asking a populace what it wants.
Rigging in Referendum
The voting took place in a government-created atmosphere of violence, intimidation, and fear.
Official international election observers noted that the vote was neither free nor fair. The Turkish state is under emergency rule which give the president (temporarily) extraordinary powers. The vote happened after an extreme hunt against anyone that could have endangered Erdogan’s position.
He jailed opposition politicians and civil servants, forbade some political groups and closed down opposition media. All state institutions were used in support for Erdogan’s side. If he could only win by 1.5 million votes in a 80 million strong society after this extreme anti-opposition campaign how many Turks would really have agreed with him on more leveled grounds?
Hundreds gathered under a drizzle for a third evening in a row in the central areas of Istanbul and other Turkish cities. They were responding to widespread claims of fraud in the vote that granted Erdogan’s sweeping executive powers. The protests appeared to be growing, having spread to some 11 cities and 30 locations on Tuesday.
The main opposition filed for an annulment of the referendum, maintaining that at least 1.5 million unstamped ballots had been deemed valid in a breach of established procedure. According to a Reuters report, that number could be as high as 2.5 million. In comparison, the “Yes” campaign won by just 1.3 million votes, or 51.4% against 48.6%.
“Late changes in counting procedures removed an important safeguard [of the authenticity of the vote],” the OSCE elections watchdog reported in a press conference on Monday afternoon. Charging that the referendum “did not live up to Council of Europe standards,” the report noted that voting “took place on an unlevel playing field and the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities.”
There was little unbiased media reporting inside the country, whose mainstream media have been largely taken over by the government; even the physical safety of “No” campaigners was at times compromised.
Social media are abuzz with alleged evidence of fraud; a prominent pollster said he was leaving the business because either the vote was rigged or he was incompetent, and in either case “there is no sense in doing polls.”
“I’m 100% sure that the results are tainted,” he added in an interview with the daily Hurriyet.
Still, few appear to believe that much would come of the complaints lodged by the opposition parties, since the government controls the courts. The protests, which have so far attracted crowds in the hundreds, are also unlikely to challenge Erdogan: the police are out in force and people here have vivid memories of the 2013 Gezi Park mass protests, which were brutally crushed.
Media coverage of the referendum in Turkey was almost completely monopolized by the AKP while the opposition suffered 143 attacks.
“My prediction is that Turkey will consolidate its authoritarianism,” an Oxford University researcher who is performing a field study in Turkey and asked not to be identified.
The referendum monitors added that “the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities. The legal framework, which is focused on elections, remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum and the fact that the referendum was held under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of last year’s failed coup infringed upon a fundamental freedom.”
They also pointed out that the opposition’s campaign had been “starved of coverage” by government media and subjected to violence from the police and Erdoğan supporters. The observer mission criticized Erdoğan’s extreme statements, saying “the campaign rhetoric was tarnished by a number of senior officials equating ‘No’ supporters with terrorist sympathisers.”
Erdal Aksünger, a local leader, complained publicly on April 17:
“Since the morning there has been a serious chaos all over Turkey. The YSK has declared that the board will deem voting papers without official seals as valid. In eastern and southeastern cities, the election observers from the ‘No’ groups were removed. There were many violations in terms of the form of the elections.”
Mehmet Yuksel, the HDP’s representative in Washington, D.C., stated:
“There has been a lot of open electoral fraud in Kurdish areas involving the YSK and without this fraud Erdoğan could not have won.” (Twenty per cent of people in Turkey belong to the Kurdish ethnic group.) “In cities where the HDP has an absolute majority, the AKP has been declared the winner. This referendum result is going to destabilize Turkey. Erdoğan has polarized the country to get more votes and this is leading to its partition,” said Yuksel. This is the start of Erdoğan’s dictatorship in Turkey and there is no way back.”
While government supporters celebrated and cheered on the streets, their joy was diminished because for the first time in over 20 years, Erdogan lost in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, where he started his political career as mayor.
The “No” vote also carried Turkey’s two other major cities, the capital Ankara and the opposition bastion of Izmir. Many of the “Yes” votes came from smaller towns and remote areas where it was more difficult to observe the ballot boxes.
Post-Referendum Response from International Leaders & Media
Only Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf and Central Asian dictatorships congratulated him. The terrorist group Ahrar al Sham, which fights the people and government of Syria, also congratulated Erdogan. Al-Qaeda in Syria, under its new alliance name HTS, joined in as well as other Takfiri groups in Syria.
The Turkish side reported of a Trump-Erdogan telephone conversation:
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to congratulate him on the referendum victory. US President Donald Trump was the first Western leader to congratulate his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on acquiring virtually dictatorial powers.
The two leaders had a “pleasant” call which lasted for 45 minutes, diplomatic sources said.
This was later confirmed by a White House readout of the call.
The published content of the call does not bode well for Turkey, Syria and Iraq (emphasis added):
“President Trump and President Erdogan also discussed the counter-ISIS campaign and the need to cooperate against all groups that use terrorism to achieve their ends,” the White House statement said.
The Turkish version of the readout was worse:
The two leaders also discussed an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on April 4 that killed approximately 100 civilians and injured 500 others in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
Trump and Erdoğan agreed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack.
The U.S. president also thanked Turkey for its support for U.S. missile strikes on the Shayrat air base on April 7 in retaliation for the chemical attack.
Both leaders also stressed the need for cooperation in the fight against terror groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
What is most concerning is the fact that a 45 minute call is extremely long for such an occasion. We can be sure that plans were made in it that have not yet been published. It is likely that a new, higher level of war against Syrian (and Iran) was agreed upon. Besides the battlefields of Syria there is Turkish military interference in Iraq. Were common plans made for that country too?
One can easy assess the evil designs of Erdogan and his party and about who are his closest friends from the above government version!
“This result is very bad for everyone in Turkey as it institutionalizes an authoritarian regime [and] concentrates power in the hands of a single person,” said Feyzi Baban, a professor of global politics and Middle East specialist at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, in an interview shortly after the vote.
Fuat Keyman, director of the Istanbul Policy Centre, likewise warned this “centralization of power is very risky for Turkish democracy and for the possibility of living together in a diverse society.”
Still, Keyman told stated,
“The referendum result is not enough for Erdoğan to consolidate his power…and only increases polarization in Turkey, showing it to be an extremely divided society. Erdoğan is trying to push Turkey towards strong executive rule in the face of this division and this creates a legitimacy problem for him.”
Similarities Between Musharraf & Erdogan
- Both envisioned a moderate version of Islam or enlightened moderation as Musharraf would call it
- Both worked closely with western allies and friends
- Both used referendum for prolonging their stay in power
- Both rigged the referendum
Erdogan on India and Kashmir
He is taking a neutral stand between Pakistan and India during recent visit to India; he did not condemn the atrocities especially recent ones being committed by the Indian Army on innocent Kashmiris (e.g. using them as human shields)
“President Erdogan had remarked that India and Pakistan were both friends of Turkey”
“Erdogan also assured India of his country’s full support in the fight against terrorism as he held ‘extensive’ discussion on this evolving threat with Modi, who described it as a ‘shared worry’.” What about the terrorism being committed by India?
“Turkish president said he had always supported both India and Pakistan’s entry into the nuclear group.”
His comments on Kashmir were just word rhetoric. He just spoke of dialogue, anyone can say that. He seemed basically neutral, saying both india and Pakistan are friends of Turkey, he is totally with India against terrorism etc. He came for his own interest /bilateral interest to boost trade. He was in a way siding with India, very cunning indeed.
Summary of His Modus Operandi (Mode of Operation) to Full Power
To realize his grand vision, Erdogan took several measures to consolidate his absolute power.
- First, clearing the way:Erdogan embarked on the complete marginalization or elimination of anyone, in and outside the ruling AK Party, that challenged his authority or advanced new ideas for solving the country’s problems. Those who did not support his policies and dared to question his judgment were not spared. He resorted to conspiracy theories, accusing his political opponents of being enemies of the state aiming to topple his government, in order to continue unopposed to realize his vision for the country, analogous to the influence and outreach of the Ottoman Empire. He even fired his long-time friend and confidant Davutoglu because Davutoglu differed from him in connection with the Kurdish problem, and especially because of Davutoglu’s reluctance to support the constitutional amendments that will grant the president sweeping and unprecedented powers.
- Second, the need for a culprit:Erdogan needed a scapegoat to blame for any of his shortcomings, and found the Gulen movement to be the perfect culprit that would provide him with the cover to overshadow the massive corruption that has swept his government. This also provided him with the “justification” to crack down on many social, political, and institutional entities, silencing the media, controlling the judiciary, and subordinating the military.
- The aftermath of the attempted military coup in July 2016 gave him the ammunition to conduct a society-wide witch-hunt, providing him with the excuse to purge tens of thousands of people from academia, civil society, judiciary, military, and internal security. This has allowed him to assume total control of all departments in the government and private sector.
- He described his purge as a necessary evil to cleanse the public of the ‘cancer’ that has gripped the country. In so doing, he ensured that the political system revolves around the presidency, leaving him completely unchallenged to pursue his imperial dream to resurrect the stature of the Ottoman Empire as the country prepares to vote in the constitutional referendum on April 16. This is why it is strongly believed that the Turkey coup was an inside job.
- Third, the creation of Ottoman symbolism:To project his grandiose vision, Erdogan needed to instill Ottoman images into the public consciousness, including the building of a 1,100-room ‘White Palace’ as his residence at a prohibitive cost to taxpayers. His most recent project was the Çamlica Mosque, the now-largest mosque in Istanbul, standing on the eponymous hill that overlooks the entire city.
- Fourth, foreign policy assertiveness:Under Erdogan, Turkey has become increasingly assertive and forceful in the region. In Cyprus, he is determined to strike a deal largely on his terms. In Iraq, he placed Turkish troops over the objections of the Iraqi government to maintain his ruthless war against the Kurds. In Syria, he allowed thousands of foreign fighters, including many who have joined ISIS, to cross the border to strengthen the anti-Assad fight, while fighting the Syrian Kurds to prevent them from establishing their own autonomous rule, fearing that the Turkish Kurds would also demand autonomous rule of their own.
- Fifth, promoting Islam as a powerful tool:Erdogan is also using Sunni Islam to promote the country as a republic with Islamic ideals supported by a loyal state apparatus. He portrays himself as the leader of the Sunni world that would restore the Ottoman era of influence while cementing his authoritarian rule in the form of a neo-Sultan. To be sure, Erdogan is vigorously promoting – with the support of his party – Islamic nationalism systematically and meticulously.
Sadly, Erdogan, who is still seen as a hero by nearly half of the Turkish population, and by many Muslims around the world is leading the country on a treacherous path. Turkey and its people have the resources, creativity, and institutions to make Turkey a significant power.
Erdogan, who demonstrated an uncanny ability to harness his country’s natural and human resources, could have made Turkey such a power on the global stage. Indeed, he would have been the Atatürk of the new era had he simply continued with his historic reforms while protecting the rights of every individual and creating a real model of Islamic democracy.
The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was largely precipitated, among other things, by its internal political decadence, the arbitrary exercising of power, and gross violations of human rights that dramatically eroded the foundation on which the empire was built.
In whichever form Erdogan wants to resurrect the Ottoman Empire, he will fail because no country can survive, let alone become great, as long as the government walks on the backs of the people and stifles their freedom to act, speak, and dream.
Economy will also go more down under his rule.
GDP growth in Turkey in 2016 to the third quarter was negative 1.8%. The national currency, the Lira, is one of the worst performing emerging market currencies (against the U.S. dollar) in the world.
The credit agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have downgraded Turkey’s credit rating to junk status, making loans harder to get for things like construction projects, which fueled Turkey’s high growth rates before 2016. As the U.S. dollar strengthened up to then, Turkish corporate debt has increased precipitously, threatening “financial disaster,” according to Cengiz Candar, distinguished visiting scholar at the Stockholm University Institute of Turkish Studies.
The Financial Times (U.K.) warned on January 10 that:
“Turkey appears closer to a full-blown currency crisis than at any point since the AKP took power in 2002.” In the last three months of 2016, the lira lost almost 20% of its value against the dollar, “as both global and domestic investors lose confidence in their country’s economic prospects.”
The future certainly doesn’t look good for Turkey at all. Perhaps a civil uprising may be able to save it or World War 3 (Malhama) may change the scenario……
And Allah knows best.