SEMİH İDİZ > Turkey will pay for Erdoğan’s ambitions

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Blinded with rage over the investigation that implicates key ministers in a massive corruption scandal, Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is on the warpath. Rather than act the way a normal politician in the West would in the face of such a scandal, he has remained true to his nature and is claiming that he is faced with a conspiracy by domestic and international forces.

In the meantime, he is doing everything that someone who claims, as he does, to be introducing advanced democracy to Turkey, upholding the rule of law, and fighting corruption should not do. 

Just about every legal expert says that detectives going after a crime do not have to inform their superiors for the sake of a healthy investigation, but must work with prosecutors. Erdoğan, however, is insisting on the opposite. 

Because police superiors were in the dark over this investigation, he has unleashed a witch-hunt against the same police force he was praising sky high during the Gezi protests. He is trying, in this way, to weed out the supporters of Fetullah Gülen, who he sees as the main conspirator and who has therefore become his principal enemy. 

The decree his government introduced and which will force junior officers to inform their superiors about every investigation they conduct has already been taken to court, and the chances are that it will be annulled because it violates the separation of powers principle. The government has also had supplementary prosecutors appointed to the investigation, arguing the case is too big for just one or two prosecutors. 

The government’s latest move has been to ban reporters from entering police headquarters. Erdoğan will see that such a ban will not prevent journalists from accessing their police sources. The fact that there are a large number of officers with an axe to grind with this government now will obviously make their task even easier.

Just about everyone except Erdoğan’s most bleary-eyed supporters interpret these moves as preemptive attempts by the government that are aimed at preventing the current investigation from going further. Erdoğan is even using questionable reports in pro-government media claiming that Washington and Israel are behind the investigation in order to bolster his public image, which has taken a serious blow. 

“Ambassadors are involved in some provocative actions,” he told a crowd of supporters over the weekend. “I call on them. Just do your jobs. If you go outside the confines of your job, we do not have to keep you in our country,” he added, without naming anyone. 

Many consider U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone to be the target of these remarks.

Pro-government media claimed Ricciardone had told a group of European ambassadors after the news of the scandal broke that Erdoğan’s empire was collapsing. Ricciardone has denied these claims as false and slanderous. 

It does not need much imagination to realize what damage such claims in the media and remarks by Erdoğan based on them will do to and his government’s international reputation, which has been plummeting since the Gezi protests anyway. 

The sudden drop in the value of the Turkish Lira against the dollar and the turbulence in the stock market after news of the corruption probe broke have also highlighted the fragility of the economy in the face of such scandals. 

Rather than act cautiously in order to prevent the economy from taking such blows at a critical time, when the world economy is going through a period of crisis, Erdoğan is insisting on doing the opposite and pouring fuel on the flames. The more he does so, however, the more he appears to be pulling the carpet from under his own feet. 

Most analysts are convinced there is no way he can come out of this scandal unscathed politically.
Erdoğan is fighting desperately now to prevent this, but whatever the cost to him in the long run, it appears it will be Turkey that suffers in the end for the sake of his political ambitions.


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Notice on comments

Lionel Dubinsky Jr.

12/25/2013 11:04:29 PM

Turkey deserves better than what Erdogan provides

Harry Foundalis

12/25/2013 7:29:07 PM

I don't quite understand the tone of your comment, Baris. Did you write that tongue-in-cheek? If so, you’re sarcastically saying that RTE’s advisors are equally prone to mess up Turkey’s international relations. But I get the feeling you’re being serious. Well, in that case note that RTE has disregarded his advisors time and again, starting with the now-ancient "You know well how to kill" stunt in Davos, all the way to the present with the U.S. ambassador gaffe. RTE seems to speak his own mind.


12/24/2013 11:51:57 PM

"Being entirely ignorant of diplomacy he will wreak havoc to Turkey’s international relations". No danger of that, Harry Foundalis, he's got some top people advising him.

Harry Foundalis

12/24/2013 7:47:35 PM

The danger for Turkey now is that Erdoğan will resort to further and further authoritarian behavior, in an effort to “show them” who he is and “give them a lesson”. Watch his first reactions: they bespeak of an “I’ll crush them” attitude. Being entirely ignorant of diplomacy he will wreak havoc to Turkey’s international relations. (He already started doing that with the US ambassador; watch for more, coming.) If he survives all this (which I doubt) Turkey will crash, financially and politically.

Wewomen kennedy

12/24/2013 6:33:02 PM

No one is allowed to directly question or directly look at Sultan Erdogan.


12/24/2013 5:51:13 PM

That's it, Eric old boy; as long as it's good old Turkish graft, everyone should mind thir business. What's in your shoe box?

two sides to every coin

12/24/2013 1:35:51 PM

As I have posted before, you have to remember a vast majority of Turks have no idea what is going on around them, the news channels show or say nothing about what is happening, plus anyone who tries to let people know get arrested. Also you have many people who know what is going on but decide to ignore it. Basically with the news being run by the state and anyone disagreeing with AKP being imprisoned we are no different than China,Russia or Nth Korea..

Dayna Lewis

12/24/2013 1:02:50 PM

@ilker...I agree that bribery has over the years become customary with whichever government in power but the AKP has made the privious ones look like amature dwarves

Eric Martin

12/24/2013 12:45:00 PM

I would like to know who started this investigation and who tipped them off. If it was indeed foreign spy's then I am with Erdogan. I don't care for Iran sanctions anyways.

Brian Irlanda

12/24/2013 12:25:09 PM

We can only hope that the Turkish people will be wise enough to realise that the whole future of their country, their children and even grand children is in danger under the egotistical , illogical and panicking government and PM. He is either part of the corruption or was totally unaware it was happening all around him. In both cases he is not fit to be in politics and should either resign or be forced out. The elections are the opportunities for Turks to save their country. Let's hope....
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