Global Independent Analytics
Stefan Paraber
Stefan Paraber

Location: USA

Specialization: Economy, Social politics

Recent Turkish Elections Are Another Step Towards a Totalitarian State in the Mediterranean

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a landslide victory in Turkey at the beginning of November

In the eyes of the party and its leader, Recep Erdogan, they have recovered from the hiccup of the earlier elections in June and regained the faith of the Turkish people. The truth of the Turkish elections is that they display the depth to which Turkey is sinking into the swamp of despotism, making bedfellows with radical Islamic networks and furthering the destructive wars in the Middle East. Erdogan and the AKP have already made Turkey a hub of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, they are exporting the Brotherhood’s top commodity, Islamic terrorists, into Syria and further cracking down on dissent in the state. 

In 2002 the AKP achieved a majority in the parliament, followed in winning 46.5% in 2007 and then 49.9% in 2009. Then came the bruising dip to 40.9% of the vote while the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) successfully passing the 10% threshold needed for parliamentary representation in the June elections. Unable to form a coalition, the government went to snap elections with most observers not predicting a major change in the vote outcome.

It was evident after the loss in June that the AKP government’s policies were failing. Economically, Turkey under Erdogan and the AKP is sitting at 10% unemployment, almost twice that in youth, and meager growth in the economy. In a Brookings Institute report, Sinan Ekim and Kemal Kirişci estimated Turkey needs at least 5% growth to solve unemployment alone. Turkish public and private institutions also owe up to $170 billion to the country’s central bank that must be paid back in one year. Turkey’s reliance on Europe as an export market is another roadblock as long as European nations remain under the psychosis of austerity politics. The poor convertibility from the Turkish lira to American dollar is also stifling the country’s ability to grow out of the economic slump.

Given Turkey’s dire politico-economic situation, the shocking jump to 49.4% of the vote in last week’s elections begs the question of how the victory was achieved. Brookings Institute attributed it to the AKP’s nationalist rhetoric and the promise of stability while also pointing to facts more likely to have caused the vote increase – the government engineering the very instability they pledged to alleviate. This was accomplished through a tight control of the media maintained by the Erdogan regime; the Brookings report claimed that the charismatic Kurdish opposition figure, Selahattin Demirtas, received almost no media recognition through the election.

Government censorship of the media was merely one way in which the election was skewed to favor the AKP. Other methods were intimidation and violence perpetrated against opposition party members in Kurdish minority areas or opposition regions. International election observer, Andreas Gross of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said, “Unfortunately, the campaign for these elections was characterized by unfairness and, to a serious degree, fear.” Ignacio Sanchez Amor, Special Co-ordinator and Leader of a short-term OSCE observer mission to monitor the Turkish elections remarked: “Physical attacks on party members, as well as the significant security concerns, particularly in the southeast, further imposed restrictions on the ability to campaign.”

This violence in Turkey surrounding new government elections began around June when a bomb exploded at an HDP rally ahead of the first elections. A full-scale destabilization of the Turkish population began when a coalition with other party’s, who were unwilling to capitulate to the AKP’s demand to radically alter the constitution, was not met. Erdogan proceeded to destroy any tentative ceasefire that existed between Turkish forces and the PKK and based much of his party’s campaign rhetoric on demonizing Kurds.

Steven Cook, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted when Erdogan simultaneously began his offensive against both ISIS and the Kurds in July that it was essentially a scene out of the movie “Wag the Dog.” The movie details a spin-doctor using an entirely fake war to orchestrate a wave of patriotism and support for an incumbent presidential candidate. Similarly, Cook writes, Erdogan has essentially whipped up a fury of support for the AKP by ostensibly waging a war against terrorism when his real motivation was to eradicate Kurdish opposition and clear the way for an AKP victory. Erdogan has not only tricked the Turkish people into supporting him but the entire world under the yolk of the western media as well.

The Kurds are still one of the most effective fighting forces against Islamic terrorism in eastern Syria and northern Iraq. They do not actively fight against the Assad government’s military or the Russian air campaign, although they may seek to create an independent state out of the destabilized zones they control. The Kurds have thus quite possibly done more to fight terrorism than any western state. They have definitely done more to fight terrorism than Turkey who, in fact, maintains close ties to the many different radical Islamist groups within Syria, including al-Nusra and ISIS. The AKP are hard to distinguish from the Muslim Brotherhood groups and monarchs of the Gulf Cooperation Council who finance and arm radical Islamic terrorist groups in Syria. Erdogan even has his family involved in the support chain for ISIS.

Erdogan is now expected to continue his support for terrorism in Syria, demonizing Kurds and continuing intimidation political tactics. After the elections, Erdogan once again appealed to radically reform the constitution, essentially removing the parliamentary system and installing himself as a dictatorial president. This time, he issued stern warnings to opposition parties not to refuse the change. Now that the AKP believes it has the people’s mandate to rule, they are exploiting their power to carry out even further methods of consolidating total domination.

The AKP winning the election through a policy of fear-mongering and scapegoating a minority population should lead to any rational alliance system to question the legitimacy of their mutual relationship. However, NATO has not been shy about increasing their support for Erdogan and Turkey during this period of fanatical saber rattling. In fact, the policy being carried out by Turkey is nearly identical to the NATO-led strategy of tension carried out in European during the Cold War.

The most intelligible case of the AKG government utilizing a strategy of tension to coerce public opinion against all political and popular opposition was the bombing on June 5 ahead of the first election. While the government was quick to blame a left-wing radical group, it was later revealed the perpetrator had been under police surveillance up until the day he committed the bombing. This has heavy tones of being a case of synthetic, or state-sponsored, terrorism in which a patsy is controlled by an intelligence network – allegedly for counterterrorism purposes – before being supplied by that network with the means or opportunity to commit terrorism. In another case, after the July bombings in the city of Suruc, HDP party co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş alleged a network linked directly to Erdogan had organized the terrorist attack.

This strategy of tension worked for NATO in Europe, now they are standing “in solidarity” with Turkey during this period of turmoil, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after the Suruc bombing. Stoltenberg also committed NATO, and thus many soldiers of western countries, to the defense of Turkey in the event of further Russian incursions into Turkish airspace. The inevitable repercussion of backing Turkey in a case, for instance, that the wily Erdogan retaliates by firing missiles — using Patriot missile systems supplied by NATO — at Russian aircraft would immediately escalate to a world war situation. One wonders if NATO will continue to stand with Turkey as they descend further into the abyss of totalitarianism under the AKP and as Erdogan pulls the rest of the world towards disastrous wars for his fanatical beliefs.

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