Possibly the most frightening development of the new found political regression are the events marring Turkish politics over the past year. Since 2005, Turkey has been in long, arduous negotiations to join the EU, held back by religious, social, cultural and diplomatic divergences. Turkey is a country of over 80 million people with the 18th highest military investment in the world, and a country that western powers very much need the cooperation of. Turkey, in many respects is the Muslim success story of politics, yet recent events have done nothing to inspire confidence in the stability of the Middle Eastern gateway.
Erdogan is a megalomaniac, a fascist and a self-proclaimed Islamist. Since his election in 2014 Turkey has claimed the sinister status as the country with the most incarcerated journalists and teenagers have been arrested for as little as publicly criticising his regime. This fascist totalitarianism is truly a frightening development for a country that spent the previous decade trying to prove its shared social congeniality in order to access the European single market and pioneering the MIddle Eastern march towards political secularism. The motives of the Erdogan government first came under the scrutinous political microscope after it was alleged he was responsible for staging a coup against himself in order to discredit and vilify his opposition, a claim which is yet to be conclusively answered but maintains widespread support among Turks. Perhaps an even more ominous feature of Erdoganism as a political blueprint is its pro-islamist orign. Erdogan later abandoned this view but not before publicly reciting the poem originally written by nationalist, Ziya Golkap, which states “The mosques are our barracks / The domes our helmets / The minarets our bayonets / And the faithful our soldiers”. This recitation resulted in a 4 month prison sentence for inciting hatred in 1999. Upon his release he publicly renounced this mode of politics, yet he has continued to deploy Islamist tactics as demonstrated by his reading of the exact same poem in 2011 as Turkish prime minister, adding fuel to the fire that he is in fact still an Islamist at heart, merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hoodwinking the moderates in to misguided support. At the heart of Islamist philosophy lies the underpinning theme of using democracy against itself, something he has effectively done. With the help of the turkish extremists and a disabled Turkish press corps he has managed to turn Turkey into a crypto-autocracy through a fraudulent 2017 referendum.
Since this magnitudinal transfer of powers there have been disquieting developments in Turkish domestic policy. Erdogan promptly ordered the removal of 4000 public sector workers, an insight into the mind of a political bully, dragging his opponents from offices to jail cells in order to silence dissent. It’s a common theme among autocrats, the desire to surround themselves only with like-minded individuals who will endure tidal waves of scrutiny to protect their leader and acquiesce to the sacrificial submergence of the sinking ship on the eventual day of defenestration. Another key feature of such regimes is fear of information, something which has clearly haunted the internet-themed nightmares of Erdogan, whose decision to block Wikipedia is just further evidence of abusing power to obfuscate reality and quell any objections to his totalitarian regime. In another demonstration of the unprincipled merging of church and state he has banned the theory of evolution from schools. This excursion from common sense towards fundamentalism, and the subsequent corruption of education is as damaging in its implications as any of his other polluted schemes.
Erdogan has crippled the integrity of his country for his own political gains. He’s incarcerated critics and vilified opponents in the aggressive pursuit of power. He’s deployed fear as a method of subdual. Against the will of the people, he has stolen control of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of Government, strong-arming them into the Presidential office. Have no illusions, this is a big deal.