Turkey’s recent view from the US


Date posted: January 25, 2014

ARZU KAYA URANLI

“What does Turkey look like from abroad?” is the most common question I’ve been hearing recently when I contact someone in Turkey. What can I say? Since last June, Turkey’s image in the US has noticeably been going somewhere we don’t want to know…

Dan Bilefskyjan in The New York Times indicated last week that “Mr. Erdogan, a conservative Muslim, has often seemed more at home in Tehran or Baghdad than in Berlin or Paris, and in recent years he has sought to fashion the country as a power in the Middle East.” Yet, this is not new. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been called an autocrat by Westerners since last June.

Mr. Erdoğan’s arrogance, autocratic impulses and the way he uses anti-Semitic clichés have made him a unique figure in Turkish political history. Since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has experienced great success in improving healthcare, raising incomes and improving infrastructure and has been able to push the army out of politics, Mr. Erdoğan has become triumphant and has started acting as a lecturer: He has been telling people how many children they should have (three); whether or not women need abortions; that cesarean sections are not necessary or where and when people can consume alcohol. As a result, a poll last June showed that 54.4 percent of Turks said the “government was interfering in their lifestyles.”

Then the social tsunami started. Since June with the Gezi demonstrations, uncertainties have been ongoing, especially after Dec. 17, 2013, when news of alleged corruption in the current government spread. However, the government’s autocratic moves are much clearer nowadays. The way the AK Party has proposed new laws to increase government control over judges and prosecutors and how many investigations have slowed down have raised suspicions that the government might be trying to hide corruption. The censorship of Turkish media and the recent attempts to change laws about the Internet to easily increase censorship are raising concern.

Strangely, emergency care has been criminalized, too! Under a new law, a doctor faces the risk of being sentenced to up to three years in jail if he attends to an injured person who requires urgent medical attention outside a hospital. It seems as though the law is against doctors’ Hippocratic Oath, which embraces a principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that prioritizes saving lives before anything else.

While all of these are happening at home, Mr. Erdoğan is accusing the investigation of being a politically motivated plot against his government from within the state, especially by the Hizmet movement, led by the highly influential Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Mr. Erdoğan calls the millions of Gülen’s followers around the world a “criminal gang” and ordered Turkish ambassadors to explain to foreign diplomats the recent graft and bribery scandal from a conspiracy-oriented and partisan viewpoint. It seems that the main goal is to discredit the Hizmet movement in an attempt to cover up corruption.

However, if ambassadors blame the Hizmet movement, the most active and influential Turkish civil society movement in the US, who will benefit from it? I bet it won’t be Turkey! It would only demonstrate how vulnerable and helpless Erdoğan is and how he is losing his credibility in the international arena.

Fırat Demir had said in Foreign Policy: “Excuses notwithstanding, the corruption scandal and the government’s response to it have already weakened democratic accountability in Turkey, and deepened dividing lines among an already polarized populace. Once lauded for its democratic strength, or at least its willingness to move up the democratic ladder, Turkey threatens to become just like many others in its neighborhood: a hybrid regime ruled by a strong man who does not even try to give his rule the pretense of a democracy.”

Yes, the way Mr. Erdoğan has behaved shows us he still doesn’t fully understand and has not internalized democracy. He is viewed more and more as an autocrat rather than a democrat. Nevertheless, his defining value should not be majority rule but individual liberty. He has to understand that when a leader implements official authority he depletes the trust he has earned, but when he exercises moral authority, leading by example and treating people with respect, he strengthens it. Can Erdoğan learn these lessons for the sake of Turkey’s near-term stability or it is already too late?

Source: Todays Zaman , January 24, 2014


Related News

Scholarly views in the aftermath of the coup attempt: A responsible government would rather support the Hizmet Movement

When the Hizmet Movement or Hocaefendi are mentioned specifically by governmentally influenced press in Turkey, it harms Turkey. Yes, it harms Hocaefendi, but not nearly as much as it harms Turkey. Turkey is hurting itself today when it limits political discussion, when it maligns its political adversaries, when it uses political tools and economic tools to harm social services and educational institutions in Turkey.

2014: Towards an “Empire of Fear”

The judiciary package paved the way for the detention of all dissidents and the appropriation of their assets. Turkey became an “Empire of Fear” with the arrangements concerning MİT, internal security, reasonable suspicion and the criminal courts of peace.

Turkey Bars Entry Of Critics By Adding Their Names Next To ISIL Suspects

Turkey has been arbitrarily refusing the entry for foreign nationals of Turkish origin who are deemed critical of the country’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government, citing the national security risks.

Chronology of Dec. 17: The stones are settling into place…

İSTANBUL Dec. 17, 2013: On the morning of Dec. 17, Turkey wakes up to a bribery and corruption operation. Simultaneous operations in İstanbul and Ankara take place after an investigation that included allegations of land being opened up to illegal city zoning, bribery and money laundering. The operations, which are carried out on the orders […]

Islamic scholar Gülen offers condolences for those killed in Dağlıca attack

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has offered his deep condolences to the families of the soldiers killed in a terrorist attack in Dağlıca in Hakkari province on Sunday, while expressing his belief that the people of Turkey will defeat terrorism by maintaining their solidarity.

Turkey requests extradition of Fethullah Gülen but not for coup attempt, says US

The US has confirmed it has received a formal extradition request from Ankara for the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, but not over the July coup attempt the Turkish authorities has accused Gülen of orchestrating.

Latest News

Rhode Island’s latest refugees flee Turkey’s repressive regime

Turkey’s Gulen supporters flee to Greece – BBC World

Pro-gov’t journalist suggests killing family members of jailed Gülen followers

Le Monde: Ankara offered Senegalese government $7.5 million to transfer Yavuz Selim educational group to Maarif

In Greece, Turks tell of lives full of fear in Recep Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkish Police Wait To Detain Another Women Just Hours After Delivery

A battle for power in Turkey faces resistance in Senegal

Turkish family drowned in Aegean Sea while escaping from Erdogan regime

To escape from Turkey, they told their children it was a game

In Case You Missed It

From al-Qaeda to Amsterdam, from İstanbul to Pennsylvania

Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen awarded in South Korea

Deputy PM denies profiling of citizens in gov’t, private sector

US law professor has no doubt Gulen trial in Turkey was political

‘Turkish schools are building the future’, expresses Somaliland leader

Reflections on my first trip to TÜRKIYE

Young environmentalists awarded at 22nd INEPO

Ethiopian president hails contribution of Turkish schools to education

WSJ, Judiciary, Gulen Movement, and the Government

Copyright 2017 Hizmet News