World View: Turkey’s Erdogan Gives Himself Dictatorial Powers, Moving Turkey Away from the West

Supporters stands in front of a screen displaying a portrait of Turkish President Recep Ta

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Turkey’s Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers
  • Turkey moves away from the West

Turkey’s Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers

Military officers under arrest after the failed military coup. Front row center is Akin Ozturk, a four-star general and former commander of the Turkish air force. (CNN)
Military officers under arrest after the failed military coup. Front row center is Akin Ozturk, a four-star general and former commander of the Turkish air force. (CNN)

Following last week’s attempted coup d’état, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday declared a three-month state of emergency that gives him near dictatorial powers that cannot be challenged by the parliament or the courts. Erdogan announced the following:

As a result of a comprehensive evaluation with members of the National Security Council [MGK], we have decided to recommend the declaration of a state of emergency, in line with Article 120 of our constitution, in order to eliminate the terror organization which attempted to make a coup, swiftly and completely.

In order to eliminate this “terror organization,” Erdogan executed a purge the size of which is breathtaking:

  • 7,500 soldiers have been detained, including 118 generals and admirals
  • 8,000 police have been removed from their posts and 1,000 arrested
  • 3,000 members of the judiciary, including 1,481 judges, have been suspended
  • 15,200 education ministry officials have lost their jobs
  • 21,000 private school teachers have had their licenses revoked
  • 1,577 university deans (faculty heads) have been asked to resign
  • 1,500 finance ministry staff have been removed
  • 492 clerics, preachers and religious teachers have been fired
  • 393 social policy ministry staff have been dismissed
  • 257 prime minister’s office staff have been removed
  • 100 intelligence officials have been suspended

In all, 58,000 people have been affected by the purge.

Because of the size and complexity of this purge, many analysts believe that the purge was in the planning stages for several months, waiting for the right opportunity to implement it. It was already obvious in March that something was coming when Erdogan forcibly shut down the only opposition newspaper and jailed the reporters. ( “6-Mar-16 World View — Turkey’s ‘shameful day for free press’ as government seizes Zaman media”)

To Erdogan, free speech is terrorism.

As I wrote last week in “17-Jul-16 World View — Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours”, Erdogan is blaming the coup on a “terrorist group” run by Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric, living in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since splitting with Erdogan. Apparently Erdogan believes that the 58,000 police, judges, clerics and social workers that he purged were all part of a terrorist group being controlled by Gulen from his easy chair in the Poconos mountains of Pennsylvania.

Erdogan is demanding that Gulen be extradited back to Turkey, but Obama administration officials are resisting, saying that they are perfectly willing to extradite him, once Turkey has supplied the required paperwork, something that will stand up in court providing evidence that Gulen committed a crime. So far, that evidence has not been provided. Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC

Turkey moves away from the West

Even ignoring the long-term conflict with the PKK terrorists, Turkey is a deeply divided country split between the religiously conservative Islamists versus the moderate secularists. This split dates back to World War I, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, declared that Turkey’s society would be secular. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current president, has been reversing that decision, making the society more Islamist.

A number of reports have indicated that young people in Turkey have been more been more Islamist than the more secularist people in the older generations, and have felt discriminated against. Erdogan has been appealing to these younger generations, and it is believed that many of 58,000 people who were purged were secularists.

The West, especially secular Europe, has become increasingly alarmed at these changes, especially in the last couple of days. Beyond the state of emergency, Erdogan has also suspended the European Convention on Human Rights (EHCR), which guarantees basic rights similar to those guaranteed by the American Bill of Rights. Turkish officials argue that human rights will still be preserved, and they point out that France suspended the EHCR briefly last year, in conjunction with declaring a state of emergency.

These announcements have revived talks of the death penalty, imposed media restrictions, blocked websites and placed a ban on academics leaving the country. Erdogan has specifically stated that the death penalty might be reinstated.

I will approve capital punishment if it’s passed by parliament…

If the EU respects democracy it will accept people’s will. The world is not simply the European Union. Do you have capital punishment in the US, Russia, China and in many other countries? Yes.

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as one of the reforms that had been demanded by the European Union before Turkey would be allowed to join the EU. Turkish officials have been getting increasingly annoyed since then because the talks with the EU have repeatedly been stalled. If Turkey reinstates the death penalty, it will have enormous symbolic significance, because it could lead to the final end of any talk about Turkey joining the European Union.

There are strong bonds tying Turkey to the West. Turkey is a member of Nato and has been so for years. More recently, Turkey and the EU have signed the EU-Turkey migrant deal that has reduced the flood of thousands of migrants per day entering Greece from Turkey to just dozens per day. Going beyond these specific contractual international relationships. Turkey is considered in the West to be the linchpin of any Mideast policy, because of its central location.

Despite all that, there is a widespread feeling among authorities in the West that Turkey is moving away from the West. One example is that some Turkish officials are suggesting that America has been partially responsible for the coup because America has given asylum to Fethullah Gulen.

Long-time readers know that Generational Dynamics predicts exactly that — that Turkey will move away from the West. As I’ve been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side. ( “8-Jul-16 World View — Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia”)

When I first made this prediction, years ago, Turkey was a close ally and Iran was a hated enemy. However, this prediction establishes a trend line that’s already being realized — Iran has been moving toward the West, and Turkey has been moving away. If you want to understand where Turkey is going, then follow the Generational Dynamics trend lines and forecasts, and you will have the answer. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Jerusalem Post and Al-Jazeera

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israel, Fethullah Gulen, Saylorsburg Pennsylvania, Iran, China, Pakistan
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.