Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1372, (7 - 13 December 2017)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1372, (7 - 13 December 2017)

Ahram Weekly

In Turkey, regime teeters

Fresh corruption claims and an ongoing recession augur badly for the incumbent regime in Ankara, writes Sayed Abdel-Meguid


In Turkey, regime teeters
In Turkey, regime teeters

Today, Turkey is uncertain and unstable as observers wonder whether to believe decision makers or the opposition who are at polar opposites. There are two main scenes. First, Erdoganist rhetoric and his entourage who have a tight grip on power, asserting “the state is strong with its ruling party. With the will of our people, our country continues to prove itself an island of stability in a region of crises, and a strong economy standing on a strong foundation. The proof is unprecedented growth rates which negates claims by evil politicised hired international classification bodies that are conspiring against Turkey’s renaissance.”

Meanwhile, Recep Tayyip Erdogan shouts to his supporters in Kars in the east, denouncing the traitors at home who are agents of foreign powers, saying: “We are not only planning for 2023, which will mark one century since the establishment of the republic, but until 2053, which marks the anniversary of six centuries since Istanbul was conquered by Mehmed the Conqueror.”

What is this about? Today, conditions in a country that wants to recover past glory at any price are similar to the time when tyrant caliphs ruled with an iron fist and authoritarianism.

The masses, however, are drowning in endless sorrows, including amid a terrible recession and devalued purchasing power. Since the lira collapsed, the price of basic goods has noticeably jumped; the poor are desperate, saying they forget the taste of meat since prices shot up making it unaffordable on a small fixed income. Those who own some assets were also dealt a blow after swings in foreign currencies, and the dollar is likely to reach more than four liras soon. All these issues are nowhere to be found in the regime’s media, simply because “they are fabrications by the devil.”

In the second scene, violations against the opposition continue en force. The failed coup attempt in July 2016 was used as a pretext to eliminate all probable or improbable competition. Ethnically, the Kurds are being marginalised by removing their heads of local councils, elected parliamentarians, stripping them of their membership and unfairly adding them to lists of wanted terrorists, while threatening to strip them of citizenship. In response, the Co-Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Serpil Kemalbay, tweeted: “Those ignoring the political purge must prepare to live in shame.” Her colleague Faysal Sariyildiz said: “The most laughable and pitiful dictatorship in history will not escape justice”

The Alawite minority were punished for supporting secular opposition, and 13 Alawite homes were marked with an X in the Cemal Gursel district in downtown Malatya in the mid-east of Turkey. The incident, which was not the first of its kind, was frightening and described by Mehmet Tubal, head of Sultan Beir Cultural Society, as an attempt to instigate chaos by igniting sectarian strife between Turkey’s Sunnis and Alawites.

Amid this foggy and dim scene, more reports of corruption emerged once again, after they were revealed on 17 and 25 December 2013. Those in power thought the curtain had dropped on these claims for good after they intervened and halted investigations, but they were disappointed and the cases were reopened. These include the trial of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab in a court in New York. Since he is very close to Erdogan, it is certain the president was involved, especially after Zarrab confessed that Turkish officials were implicated with him in breaching sanctions on Iran by the US. All this could not happen without Erdogan’s knowledge when he was prime minister.

Moreover, Erdogan’s eldest son, Bilal, was accused of money laundering four years ago in a scandal that was announced in Italy last year, after it was revealed by a businessman in the opposition living in exile. He said Bilal fled to Italy “with a large sum of money” and armed bodyguards who used diplomatic passports.

Meanwhile, the intense “documented” campaign led by the leader of the Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, against Erdogan accuses the president of hoarding millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts and investing them in companies owned by relatives in Malta. Erdogan responded: “If Erdogan had one penny outside the country, [Kilicdaroglu] must prove it. If he succeeds, I will not remain in power one more minute.” He added: “I ask this person, whose name I will not even bother saying, do you have any documents to prove your accusations? If you do, then make them public.”

Kilicdaroglu quickly responded by publicly disclosing original documents covered in official seals, but immediately the state-loyal media branded them as fakes.

Kilicdaroglu was once accused of supporting sympathisers with the separatist PKK, but now he is accused of supporting religious cleric Fethullah Gulen who lives in Pennsylvania. The ruling party accused him of being a CIA agent.

The battle has begun and the clock cannot be turned back. Will the man accused of treason truly keep his promise made in an interview with the German Fox/Vox magazine, that he will defeat Erdogan in upcoming elections early next year, and that Europeans must trust him?

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