How to Fix Turkey’s Fall From International Favor

Michael Shank, Ph.D.
Michael Shank, Ph.D.


Date posted: March 13, 2015

MICHAEL SHANK, PH.D.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent attack on the West for “hate speech” and misattributing terrorism during the Paris attacks is ironic. Erdogan is erroneously doing both already: labeling the Gulen movement a terrorist organization and using hate speech to characterize it. In fact, Erdogan is cracking down on religious groups more heavily than ever before.

While the Turkish government is allowing the construction of a Christian church, the first in 90 years, no one is under the illusion that Erdogan’s regime is now suddenly supportive of religious freedom and rights. If anything, it’s quite the opposite. Failure to allow the reopening of Halki Orthodox seminary and the defamatory references to Armenians are examples of how Christians continue to suffer under Erdogan’s regime.

Indiscriminate persecution of the Islam-inspired Hizmet movement — and the recent jailing of journalists, police chiefs and teachers who support the movement and its leader, Fethullah Gulen — shows that protection of rights is clearly not a priority in the president’s administration. The recent crackdown on a major newspaper and a television station based in Istanbul — the Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, respectively — garnered Erdogan few friends in the international community.

Most likely, this church building is a last-ditch attempt to send a political olive leaf to Christians in the West and any allies in Europe who haven’t already dismissed Erdogan’s administration for endangering its democracy.

It’s a shame that it has come to this. Prior to the crackdowns that escalated with the Erdogan corruption scandal and Gezi Park protests of 2013, Turkey had witnessed over a decade of economic growth and democratic reform under Erdogan’s leadership. As one of the world’s most powerful economies, Turkey was positioned to be one of the world’s biggest trading partners and one of the West’s key allies and negotiators in the Middle East. Those hopes are now all but gone.

Erdogan has thrown much, if not all, of this goodwill away. And as Erdogan chairs the G20 this year, the irony of Erdogan overseeing the G20’s Anti-Corruption Action Plan isn’t lost on anyone — especially as Turkey’s Corruption Perceptions Index rankings have slipped precipitously, falling more than any other country in last month’s index findings.

What’s most confounding, however, from a geopolitical perspective, is Erdogan’s deep political insecurity. The president’s efforts to undermine or eradicate any opposition party ranks as one of the most imprudent political power grabs of the 21st century. By alienating the Hizmet movement — which has built its civic base on an Islam-inspired commitment to tolerance, nonviolence, education, and science — Erdogan simultaneously alienated other allies throughout the international community.

Aggressively jailing without warrant, closing schools without just cause, and erroneously and irresponsibly slapping the “terrorist” label on critics of the administration, Erdogan is slowly but surely associating himself with the more infamous autocrats who have angered America and other rich countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the past. Turkey must remain in the moderate Islamic middle so as to not be associated with the likes of ex-presidents Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, autocrats who preferred emergency rule as a way of tamping down public protest.

The way forward, then, if Erdogan wants to slow his country’s free fall from international favor, is to recognize that the power of his presidency, and his recent reelection, rests in his ability to curry favor among the many, not the few. And no amount of cozying up to the Kurdistan Workers Party (also known as the PKK and labeled by the U.S. as a terrorist organization) as a way of garnering Kurdish votes will make up for the violations of basic human rights and freedoms of the Hizmet movement and beyond, all of which has been documented by international media.

The world wants Turkey to be back on the international trade and regional diplomacy track, but that’s only possible if corruption and crackdowns discontinue. These are scandals that no international ally wants plaguing their internal politics via external association with Erdogan’s administration. And while a course correction for Ankara is possible in 2015, it must come quickly and unequivocally. The biggest obstacle, at this point, to a lasting and successful Erdogan presidency is Erdogan himself.


*Michael Shank, Ph.D., is adjunct faculty at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and senior fellow at the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict.

Source: Huffington Post , March 12, 2015


Related News

Introducing the Hizmet Movement

I thank the organizers for this invitation to be part of the inaugural dinner of the conference “Islam in the Age of Global Challenges: Alternative Perspectives of the Gülen Movement.” I am also grateful to Georgetown University for hosting this event.

Did you say extradition?

There is no crime attributed to Gülen and no investigation or court ruling against him. But one thing is certain: It is almost impossible that the US will respond positively to the Turkish government’s demand that Gülen be extradited.

Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-based Preacher

Erdogan denies the corruption allegations and has described them as the work of a “parallel state.” After this week raids, he issued a veiled threat against Gulen’s supporters.

‘Latest developments increased recognition of Hizmet Movement globally’

Madiambal Diagne who is the editor-in-chief of a leading newspaper, Le Quotidien, in Senegal, stated that conflict between Hizmet Movement and Turkish government has paved way for Hizmet Movement to gain recognition worldwide extensively.

On Hizmet: Why do I not criticize it?

Hizmet believes a termination plan on Hizmet, which was drafted back in 2004, is now in action. Hizmet has been defending itself via media or various platforms. If false evidences or documents are not fabricated, the only basis of those against Hizmet is the opposition and outcry of the pro-Hizmet media.

London-Based Turkish Academic To Run 10,000 Meters To Raise Fund For Purge Victims In Turkey

İsmail Sezgin, a London-based Turkish academic has tweeted on Tuesday that he will run a total of 10,000 meters in support of the families hit by an ongoing purge by the Turkish government. Releasing a statement on moneygiving.com, Sezgin said that he aims at raising a fund of 10 thousand pounds to help purge-victim families in Turkey.

Latest News

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

Grondahl: Turkish community strong in wake of threats from back home

Turkish-Kyrgyz educator’s abduction shows Ankara’s ruthless disregard for law: HRW

Kenya: Investigate Deportation of Turkish National

In Case You Missed It

Kimse Yok Mu distributes heating stoves in Mongolia

Turkic American Alliance Condemns Government Takeover of Zaman

Turkey: Post-coup prisoner says threatened with rape, beaten almost to death

Turkish Olympiad raises hopes for world peace

Rumi Peace and Dialogue Awards given in Washington

Uplifting Romanian children in need

Ministerial bureaucrats being purged over their alleged affiliations with Hizmet

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News