Friday, April 21, 2017

Erdogan's Triumphant Fiefdom

"The crusader mentality in the West and its servants at home have attacked us."
"We neither see, hear, nor acknowledge the political reports you’ll prepare [foreign monitors' assessment of corruption during the referendum]."
"We’ll continue on our path. Talk to the hand. This country has carried out the most democratic elections, not seen anywhere in the West."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Istanbul. (Reuters)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Istanbul.
In general, the referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards. The legal framework was inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic process."
Cezar Florin Preda, head, 47-member Council of Europe

"This [uncertainty over the number of illegal ballots] is why the only decision that will end debate about the legitimacy [of the vote] and ease the people’s legal concerns is the annulment of this election."
Bulent Tezcan, deputy party chairman, People's Republican Party 

"The tight referendum result shows how deeply divided Turkish society is, and that means a big responsibility for the Turkish leadership and for President Erdogan personally."
Chancellor Angela Merkel / Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, joint statement
Supporters of the "Yes" vote, celebrate in Istanbul. (Emrah Gurel/Associated Press)
Supporters of the "Yes" vote, celebrate in Istanbul.
(Emrah Gurel/Associated Press)
"Given the suppression of the 'no' campaign, the fact that much of the [pro-Kurdish] Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leadership is in jail, and that the government’s effective control of the media ensured a massive imbalance in campaign coverage, the 'no' campaign did very well. For Erdogan, a narrow win is still a win. He is unlikely to either slow his consolidation of power or reach out in meaningful ways to the opposition. He promised a 'yes' vote would result in more stability and a return of economic growth. I suspect that neither of these things is true."
Howard Eissenstat, associate professor, St. Lawrence University/ fellow, Project on Middle East Democracy

"Both the close margins and disputed votes will taint Erdogan's sense of victory and ease of handling the process to follow. This strengthens the Turkish opposition but also would mean international actors will be more vocal about asking for some of the proposed changes not to go ahead. That can be seen in the Council of Europe's statement already asking for the independence of the judiciary to be respected. The next phase will be socially and politically intense, with protests and harsh political polemics."
Ziya Meral, resident fellow, Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, Britain

Supporters of the “No” camp rally in Istanbul against the result of Turkey's constitutional referendum on April 16. (Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images)

Caliph Erdogan's prospect for rule can only be possible through ruthless tyranny, and this is a man who has demonstrated he is more than capable of that kind of governance. No democracy could survive such a referendum and this one isn't meant to. And no administration could conceivably rule on behalf of all the people when the three most populous cities in the nation voted against allowing the evisceration of democracy in favour of a return to the Ottoman Empire-style rule that Erdogan has championed in the guise of honouring Islam.

The West, challenging the legality of the referendum's polling and its results, has been named by this man who declares that: The mosques are our barracks / The domes our helmets / The minarets our bayonets / And the faithful our soldiers -- as "Crusaders". They join the "Nazis" describing the Netherlands and Germany which erred horrendously in refusing to permit Turkey's cabinet ministers to rouse the nationalist fervour of Dutch and German citizens of Turkish extraction to vote in favour of the referendum.

Erdogan has assiduously groomed Turkey -- at the very least the rural, uneducated Islamist Turkey of his undying support -- to accept happily any initiatives he takes with his assurance that he will create a more forward-looking, solid and dependable, secure and prosperous Turkey for the benefit of all its citizens. That Turkey he has in mind is the same Turkey that has continued to attack and brutalize the Kurds living in Turkey as well as those in Syria of whom he declares with the authority vested in him that they are all terrorists, plotting to destroy Turkey.

Journalists who defy him and prefer to write the truth are charged with crimes against Turkey and are imprisoned, along with Turkish judges in their thousands, demoted, fired, transferred and imprisoned. They join the ranks of the military suspected of being secret Gulenists plotting Erdogan's downfall. And then there are the lawyers, the teachers, the civil servants, those who have merely lost their employment and thus their place in civil society, and those who have been imprisoned, charged with being involved in the failed coup attempt.

None dare challenge this narcissistic dictator who knows that he and he alone can be trusted to lead Turkey into the future. The far, far distant future. For he is Turkey and Turkey is Erdogan; indivisible and forever destined to be conjoined. Mind-bogglingly, this Turkey is a member of NATO. And as a member of NATO, Turkey must be respected and diplomatic means used to support Mr. Erdogan. Mr. Trump, the American president, recognizes something of himself in Mr. Erdogan and effusively gives his congratulations.

Try changing voting rules mid-vote, and stuffing unstamped ballots, barring monitors from polling stations, intimidating voters, monopolizing airways and threatening dissenters in the United States and see how far that goes.... But then Donald Trump didn't have to do any of that. Did he?

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