If Turkey sinks, we all go with it

If Turkey sinks, we all go with it

Turkey appears unable to generate any good news these days. Developments point to a country that is in a rapid downward spiral. If you ask President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, as well as their ardent followers, Turkey has never had it so good. 

As for the all the negative things that are transpiring, these, according to them, are the results of the meddling of ill-intentioned outside forces which, with the help from local collaborators, are trying to destabilize and undermine Turkey at the very moment it is ready to take-off and soar.

Yet all these negative developments are taking place during Erdoğan and Davutoğlu’s watch, and their explanations laced with conspiracy theories seem to be no more than thinly veiled attempts at keeping questions about the quality of their governance at bay.

What is worrying for many Turks in all this is that they have no idea about where all this is leading and where the apparent chaos will end. How could they feel otherwise when one considers the following list?

There is a virtual war in the southeast against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) resulting in devastated towns and districts, which remind one not just of the recent destruction of Kobane or Aleppo, but also of Sarajevo, Banja Luka or Mostar in 1995. It is also not clear how many deaths among civilians this is resulting in.

Meanwhile terrorists are attacking the heart of the capital, as well as the nation’s financial capital, leaving dozens dead, with no guarantee that these will not recur, despite official assurances that all necessary precautions have been taken to prevent further attacks.

The country is also dangerously divided along secular, religious, sectarian and ethnic lines, as the hatred between opposing sides increases daily, with no indication as to who or what will resolve the seemingly insurmountable social divisions that have emerged.

Furthermore, the country is unloved and to a great extent isolated internationally, with its democratic reputation tarnished as opponents of the ruling party or its “spiritual leader,” the president, as well as those considered by them to be their “enemies,” are hounded and imprisoned, whether they are journalists, academics, businessmen, civil servants or just ordinary citizens. 

As to the nation’s legal system, it inspires no confidence because it gives the distinct impression of having been coopted to serve the dominant political force, leaving the Constitutional Court as the only bastion of an independent judiciary, with no guarantee that it will continue to be so in the future.

In the backdrop to all this we are flooded by at least 3 million refugees from war-torn countries to the east, who will have to be looked after for years. This will increase pressure on Turkey’s already thinly stretched resources required to look after its own citizens in need. Meanwhile social problems due to the presence of these refugees are already causing and will continue to cause trouble for the country.

Erdoğan and Davutoğlu, as well as other key figures from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), frequently refer to “their cause,” which they vow to pursue with determination. They argue that this is an “ethical” and “just cause” and claim it is to the benefit of Turkey.

This cause, which rests on a religious based social and ethical foundation, however is far from being inclusive. The virulent and unrestrained anger openly expressed by Erdoğan - who should constitutionally be above partisanship - against his critics, and critics of the AKP proves this.

What is not clear, though, is how Erdoğan and Davutoğlu intend to fulfill the dreams of their “cause” as chaos in the country increases on a daily basis. When will they understand that Turkey is a ship and if it sinks we all go down with it, whether we are Turkish or Kurdish, religious or secular, Alevi or Sunni?