Not a new start at all…

Not a new start at all…

Three ministers became mayoral candidates; four others were shot down by a web of graft and irregularity scandals; two were sacked and one minister shifted from one position to another. This was the summary of the government reshuffle Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced. If elections will be held on schedule, the reshuffled Cabinet will hardly have 19 months in office. If the allegations of other and indeed stronger waves of corruption probes implicating the prime minister and his family members come through, irrespective such claims might be substantiated and court cases followed or not the country may even go to an early election in 2014. Well, the boss – according to latest revelations in the graft probe the prime minister loved to be referred as such – has been categorically against early elections, but none the less, everything is possible in politics. Well we have heard him slapping a minister like a child, but who would bet two weeks ago on a claim that Erdoğan would sack or force four ministers to resign. By the way, the minister who claimed to have received slap in the face at least twice from Erdoğan was sacked as well.

Whatever, Turkey is becoming ungovernable. There were hopes that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu – for some, the worst foreign minister the country ever had, while some still consider him the “Kissinger of Turkey” – would be replaced in the reshuffle. Alas, he maintained his seat! Why? Erdoğan probably still thinks the one who pulled the foreign policy of the country in the current mess should work to take it out as well. Is there hope? Lately, Turkey has started making some overtures towards restoring normalcy in its foreign affairs, on the one hand, but creating some new oddities on the other. For example what was that persistent “blame the United States” obsession? Well the U.S. might not be happy with the current political team governing Turkey. Indeed, some lobbies in Washington might be discussing behind doors a “Turkey minus the AKP.” The AKP government might be unhappy with such “intelligence.” Is it reasonable at all to attack the U.S. ambassador and accuse him of gathering EU envoys and talking of a Turkey without Erdoğan? Is it sane to believe claims that a businessman was approached last year by the U.S. diplomatic mission and was urged to join an effort to wipe out the AKP?

Well, if people who were advising Americans “not to wipe down the drain but use Erdoğan” are still in government in Ankara, such evaluations and indeed obsessions might appear normal. These guys are apparently unaware of the diplomatic code of conduct or believe the American ambassador is fool enough to engage in acts that would force his hosts to declare him a persona non grata and land U.S.-Turkish ties in a deep coma.

All these oddities might be a product of an insane “we have an Eastern alternative… If you do not want us in Brussels, we shall go to Shanghai” mentality. What is the EU and what is Shanghai Five? Do we see us as partners of some democratic countries; or are we in the same league of the advanced democracies of the Shanghai group? Turkey should, of course, have good relations with the West as well as the East, but can it see its future being with the East? Come on, be realistic!

Syria, Iran, Iraq as well as Armenia, Cyprus and Egypt… A ring of “no problem” around Turkey. With some opium, perhaps the current mess might be believed to be one of “no problem,” but unfortunately under the guidance of the current team, this country was turned into one of having no friends. Worse, our allies no longer trust us and consider the Turkish position vis-a-vis problems around Turkey as appalling.

Is this a nice photograph of a country trying to make a fresh start with a new Cabinet?