Turkey’s Erdogan takes cue from Hitler, Stalin and Khomeini


Date posted: August 7, 2016

PAUL MONK
There is something deeply disturbing about the direction in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party are taking Turkey. Writing in this newspaper last week, John Lyons compared the sweeping purges to McCarthyism in the US in the 1950s. That was altogether the wrong analogy.
The scale and arbitrariness of what is happening are, rather, akin to Adolf Hitler’s state of emer­gency after the Reichstag fire in 1933, or Joseph Stalin’s reaction to the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934, than to the US in the 50s. There is also an analogy with Iran’s 1979-81 Islamic revolution.
In the wake of a coup attempt whose source remains mysterious and that fizzled within hours, Erdogan’s regime began arresting or dismissing from their posts tens of thousands of people: military officers, soldiers, police, schoolteachers, academics, judges and civil servants. The scale and speed of the reaction have been breathtaking and cannot possibly be based on evidence of complicity in the failed coup. They can be based only on lists long prepared of those deemed to be politically and ideologically opposed to the Erdogan regime. Such opposition is not a crime and by no means indicates treason or conspiracy.
The rhetoric of the Erdogan ­regime is startling. The call to re­introduce the death penalty is chilling. The insistence, without the provision of any credible evidence, that the coup was a conspiracy orchestrated by exiled, US-based Sufi cleric Fethullah Gulen and the declaration by the regime under the three-month state of emergency to take extra-legal steps to “cleanse” the state apparatus and armed forces of perceived enemies are all worrying indications that Erdogan’s agenda is not the restoration of democracy but the installation of an Islamist dictatorship. This is where the analogy with Iran under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini arises.
The Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933, was exploited by Hitler to declare a state of emergency in Germany and basically abolish the rule of law. The clearest account is by Ian Kershaw in the first volume of his magisterial biography Hitler (1998). As he points out, the fire was not itself a Nazi conspiracy but came as a surprise. Joseph Goebbels, when informed of it, thought the report was a bad joke. Hitler thought it was the signal for a communist uprising. Wild allegations to this effect were quickly made, but no credible evidence was ever produced. Bear that in mind when reading of allegations against the Gulenists.
Hitler, driven by vengeful phobias rather than evidence, declared to his closest colleagues: “This is a God-given signal … If this fire is, as I believe, the work of the communists, then we must crush out this murderous pest with an iron fist!” Erdogan, whether or not he was consciously mimicking Hitler, declared almost at once that the coup attempt was a “God-given” chance to crush the opposition.
He is proceeding to attempt exactly that. If he does, as he has threatened, reintroduce the death penalty, we should note very closely who is put to death.
Given that Erdogan has been on the record as declaring that democracy is just a train you use to get to your destination, then you get off it, what we are seeing looks distinctly like disembarkation.
Stalin did something similar in 1934-35, in a prelude to the Great Terror of 1936-38, in which, according to the KGB’s records, about 750,000 people were executed and the Gulag crammed with others.
In Stalin’s case, the target was a wide range of political oppositionists in Leningrad and around the country, who were ­labelled “White Guard elements” and “counter-revolutionaries”. He then used the same pretext to arrest many of his opponents from within even the Bolshevik party. Again, the analogy is striking.
Perhaps the best account of the Kirov murder and its consequences is in Oleg Khlevniuk’s Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator, published last year and based on unprecedented access to Soviet archives. What he makes clear is that, contrary to various conspiracy theories that have survived for decades, Stalin did not arrange Kirov’s murder but he did exploit it to accuse his political rivals (and former allies) Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev of planning it. They were convicted based on “blatantly fabri­cated” evidence. As things stand, there are disturbing signs that this is the game Erdogan is playing.
He has become a serious problem and it could soon get much worse. Spurned by the EU, he has in effect declared “there is a world elsewhere” and has taken his stand under the banner of radical Islam.
He has become a Putin-like figure and his Turkey is now a highly unreliable member of NATO, a looming danger to its small European and Mediterranean neighbours (think Cyprus. for starters) and a further case of the implosion of order in the Middle East. Whatever our perceptions or sympathies with regard to
Turkey’s domestic affairs, these geopolitical concerns must be thought through quickly and realistically lest things unravel in a serious way indeed.
In May last year, Erdogan gave a public speech to a huge crowd in Istanbul, on the 562nd anniver­sary of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. He lionised not just that conquest — which no one in the West should celebrate — but Muslim conquests as a whole, beginning with the first raids and small wars by Mohammed. The crowd roared its approval: “Here is the army! Here is the commander!”

Erdogan has a strong base of support in Turkey, as Hitler did in Germany. Neither his reasonableness nor his intentions can be trusted. His Turkey has become a problem for Europe for the first time since the murderous wholesale expulsion of Turkey’s Greeks, in the 20s. Much now depends on how that problem is handled, diplomatically and strategically.


Paul Monk is the author of Opinions and Reflections: A Free Mind at Work 1990-2015.

Source: The Australian , July 27, 2016


Related News

Client fearfully waiting his turn to be tortured at Ankara police station: lawyer

An Ankara lawyer who wants to remain anonymous has said his/her client, detained over his links to the Gülen movement, was waiting his turn in fears to be tortured at a detention facility in Turkey’s capital.

Whistleblower Fuat Avni: Gov’t to plant weapons in Hizmet buildings to declare it terrorist group

A government whistleblower who tweets under the pseudonym Fuat Avni has alleged that the government is planning to plant weapons and ammunition in houses and buildings used by followers of the Hizmet movement in order to declare the movement a terrorist organization ahead of the upcoming general election.

Gülen: Despite differences in method peace process in Kurdish issue should be supported

Yet another show of support for Turkey’s ongoing settlement process — aiming to end the decades-old bloodshed in the country — has been voiced, this time from Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who said some people might oppose the government’s method of solving the settlement process but for the sake of peace the process should be […]

Individuals can force change

Instead of Erdoğan’s accusations that the Hizmet movement had plotted to unseat his government, couldn’t it have been a handful of good men and women within the bureaucracy, i.e., the judiciary and the police, who leaked the investigation documents on Dec. 17 to the public to prevent these crimes from being covered up?

4-year-old visits dad in jail on Children’s Day wearing T-shirt with newborn brother’s picture

Minutes before paying a visit to her jailed father early on Sunday morning, H.A. was photographed in front of Sakarya L Type Prison wearing a T-shirt bearing a photo of her newborn baby brother.

Gov’t effort to bring down bank would have international repercussions

Directing his criticism at the government, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy and parliamentary Justice Commission member Murat Başesgioğlu voiced out “If you attempt to bring down the bank, you will have negative repercussions in the international arena,” adding “No one will take you [government] serious in the international arena, if you attempt to bring down a bank.”

Latest News

Most Turkish asylum seekers in Netherlands Gülen followers

“It was so cold, it felt like an arrow through my heart”

Two volunteers of Gülen Movement reportedly abducted after released by Azerbaijani Court

Turkey cooperates with smugglers to catch Gulen sympathizers seeking asylum abroad

Gulen-linked school manager released on bail by Tbilisi court

EP’s Rebecca Harms Visited Turkish Educator Çabuk In Georgian Prison

8,480 Turkish nationals sought asylum in Germany in 2017

Georgia: MEP Rebecca Harms on Asylum for Cabuk

Gülen calls on int’l community to pressure Turkey over rights violations

In Case You Missed It

Unexpected consequences [of prep schools in Turkey]

Brussels, Paris and Berlin

Hopefully the Gulen movement will help change the American values

Catholic University of Leuven establishes Fethullah Gülen Chair

Turkish Olympiad Finals add a festive air to Kiev

D.C. Group Holds Annual Peace and Dialogue Dinner in Albemarle

President Gül opens Turkish-Kazakh school in Astana

Targeted by dictator, Turkish family seeks refuge in Albany

No country is safe for Gülen sympathizers, Erdoğan says

Copyright 2018 Hizmet News