Erdoğan’s efforts to destroy the Gulen movement aimed at consolidating his own power and regime

Rainer HERMANN
Rainer HERMANN


Date posted: January 25, 2015

AYDOĞAN VATANDAŞ / NEW YORK

Now for many at home and abroad, Erdoğan is trying to build his own regime and wiping out everyone he considers an opponent or rival.

Hermann says Erdoğan’s efforts to destroy the Hizmet movement are aimed at consolidating his own power and regime. “Erdoğan wants to wipe out everyone whom he sees as a rival. There are not many left to challenge him. That left the Hizmet movement as a corrective force. The movement is a danger to him.

Do you think Erdoğan’s efforts to destroy the Hizmet movement are aimed at consolidating his own power and regime

Absolutely. Erdoğan wants to wipe out everyone whom he sees as rival. There are not many left to challenge him: The military is gone from the political stage forever, no strong political party challenges him, the Gezi protests did not come close to becoming a critical mass for change. That left the Hizmet movement as a corrective force. The movement is a danger to him: It opposed and opposes Erdogan’s trend toward authoritarianism by insisting on an EU path and more reforms, and it does so — as Erdoğan claims for himself — by being a movement of pious Muslims. He argues that whoever is not with him is against him and needs to be eliminated — not physically but politically.

Do you think he is building his regime, a dictatorship Turkey?

Absolutely. He wants to build a regime according to his wishes. He wants to be at the top of a state, being himself a mix of an Ottoman sultan and a republican president. He tells people to know their limit; by telling them he makes it clear that he is at the top and they are at the bottom. Erdoğan is authoritarian, but he is not a dictator (yet). He is elected; there are still some checks and balances, even if eroded, and there is still a civil society, even if under threat.

Do you think that he can achieve that?

Even if Erdoğan wanted to transform Turkey into a dictatorship he would not succeed. However, he is exercising a majoritarian form of democracy where, after an election, those who won the absolute majority can do what they want to do. This is not a liberal democracy where minorities are respected. Turkey is drifting away from Europe and a European democracy, becoming closer to Oriental types of states in which a pyramid of power is kept together from the top by the clientelistic interests of cronies. We have seen in 2011 that those states in the Arab world are not sustainable. In the case of Turkey, protests against Erdoğan will mount when the economy stops growing. Clientelistic economies waste resources; they are not competitive. That might happen to Turkey if the policy is not adjusted.

PROFILE

Dr. Rainer Hermann was born in 1956. He has studied economics and Middle Eastern Studies in Freiburg, Germany; Rennes, France; Basel, Switzerland; and Damascus, Syria. He has an M.A. in economics and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern studies. Starting his journalism career in 1989, he has been working for the German daily “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” since 1996. After having spent more than 20 years as correspondent abroad — mostly in İstanbul and Abu Dhabi — He has been the editor at the daily’s headquarters in Frankfurt since 2012. He is the author of five books on Turkey and on the Arab world. In March his book on ISIL will be published.

Source: Today's Zaman , January 24, 2015


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