Why Erdoğan exploits anti-American sentiments

A Turkish protester holds a sign with a photo of US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone during a protest held by leftist Workers’ Party outside the US Embassy in Ankara on Dec. 23, 2013. (Photo: AP)
A Turkish protester holds a sign with a photo of US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone during a protest held by leftist Workers’ Party outside the US Embassy in Ankara on Dec. 23, 2013. (Photo: AP)


Date posted: December 26, 2013

Aydoğan Vatandaş

Turkey was shocked by the corruption scandal last week, which included allegations of money laundering and gold smuggling and resulted in the detention of the sons of three ministers and the general manager of Halkbank. The scandal led to harsh criticism of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

With dangerous and discriminatory language, Erdoğan exploits anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment in Turkish society to demonize his opponents.

Even though there was no evidence indicating that Mr. Francis J. Ricciardone, the American ambassador to Turkey, was involved in the ongoing corruption probe in Turkey, Erdoğan targeted the U.S. ambassador:

“These recent days, very strangely, ambassadors get involved in some provocative acts. I am calling on them: Do your job, if you leave your area of duty, this could extend into our government’s area of jurisdiction,” he said.

Responding to Erdoğan’s allegations, Ricciardone said: “The United States is in no way involved in the ongoing corruption and bribery operation,” in a written statement released on Dec. 21.

Erdoğan and his followers accuse the US and Israel of using the corruption probe in a secret conspiracy against their government. Erdoğan and his team actually used the same tactics and rhetoric during the Gezi demonstrations in over the summer.

One of the reasons that politicians exploit anti-American sentiment in their battles with opposition movements and to counter allegations against the government lies in the very structure of Turkish society.

According to a Pew Research Center survey released in 2013, 71 percent of the Turkish people believe that the US may someday threaten their country.

In their article, titled “Turkish Perceptions of the West,” Dr. İbrahim Kalın, Dr. Berat Özipek and Dr. Kudret Bülbül concluded that “while Western culture and religion are not seen in antagonistic terms and the participants usually respect them, Western policies emerge as the main sources of concern, criticism and rejection.”

Therefore, Erdoğan and his team exploit anti-American and anti-Western sentiment for political reasons, especially to demonize their opponents.

The other reason that Erdoğan exploits anti-American sentiment lies in his ambition to create his own cult of personality. A cult of personality could be described as fanatical devotion to a specific person of power. It is interesting to see that some writers believe that Erdoğan is the caliph of the entire Muslim world and swear allegiance to him. During the grand opening of the Marmaray transport project in İstanbul, Erdoğan was hailed as the “leader of the century.”

In a Gazeteport.com article titled “Cult of Government, Cult of Leadership,” published on May 28, 2012, Turkish columnist Zafer Arapkirli wrote that “it is definitely an important goal of Erdoğan’s to transform himself and his party to some extent into the focus of a cult while he is in office. But keep in mind that these cults are found not in democratic countries but in authoritarian regimes.”

Throughout the 20th century, many leaders became the center of cults of personality in their nations. The loyalty of their nation was the most important thing for those leaders. They all wanted to have a godlike, infallible image. Any success of the nation was attributed to the leader, but any mistakes or failures were blamed on the failures of others or high-level conspiracies hatched by superior nations or secret societies.

The very reason that Erdoğan is contending with Mr. Fethullah Gülen is that he believes Gülen is the only obstacle in the way of his ambition to create his cult of personality, the only challenge to his leadership and his imagined future.

Examining the authoritarian regimes of the past, it is important to note that they employed very similar narratives and tried to gain total control over every segment of society and the media and led their people to believe that they were fighting for their rights against mighty powers and enemies.

Today, it is no secret that Erdoğan has total control over almost half of the Turkish media and is using the argument that he and his government are fighting huge powers like the US and Israel, which are accused of trying to block the development of Turkey. It is because of this control over the press that, while one-half of the Turkish media is covering the corruption probe, the other half is pretending there is no corruption, but an attack by the US and the Israeli lobby.

The phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” has never been as true as it is now.

Can Erdoğan win this game?

If Erdoğan were confident enough about the corruption case, maybe he could. Instead of letting justice run its proper course, he used his political power to intervene in the judiciary and police forces.

This must be considered the most important indicator of his fall.


*Aydoğan Vatandaş is an author and investigative journalist based in New York.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 26, 2013


Related News

An early prediction about the next elections

Turkey’s future will be determined in the next election. If the AKP government is not able to gain more than 38 percent of the total votes this time, it will directly affect the future of Turkish politics. Erdoğan cannot be the next president, for instance.

72-year-old Turkish man detained over coup charges

Gülen movement has been accused of masterminding the coup attempt on July 15 despite its successive statements that denied any involvement. Failing to back up its accusations with credible evidence, the government has detained more than 40,000 people and arrested 24,000 over their alleged links to the coup attempt since July 15.

“Peaceful Coexistence” – Workshop Organized Jointly by KADIP and Korean Religious Leaders

Intercultural Dialogue Platform (KADIP), whose vision is to set up bridges between different cultures and faiths, welcomed religious leaders from Korea in Istanbul. KADIP and Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCPR; an institution that brings together representatives of 7 different faiths) jointly organized a workshop entitled “Turkey-Korea: Peaceful Coexistence” which took place at the headquarters […]

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

Yusuf Özmen, a cancer patient who has been sentenced to 8 years, 9 months in prison due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, has recently been sent back to prison after the supreme court of appeals upheld the prison sentence.

American pastor jailed over Gülen links asks Trump to fight for his release

An American pastor who has been jailed on bogus terrorism charges in Turkey for more than five months has asked US President Donald Trump to help secure his release. Pastor Brunson has no known ties to terrorist groups, and the Turkish government has not produced any evidence to show that he does.

Students of Fatih Schools take first place in LYS and TEOG exams

Students of the Fatih Schools network — which are inspired by the faith-based Gülen movement — popularly known as the Hizmet movement — were the top scorers in both the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education (TEOG) exams taken from Nov. 26-27 and April 29-30 and the Undergraduate Placement Examination (LYS).

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Kimse Yok Mu uplifts orphans in Tacloban

The Turkey I no longer know

Turkish schools organize the biggest science olympiads of Indonesia

Lord Mitchell pays a visit to Turkish School

GYV praised for response to accusations about Hizmet movement

How the fallout from Turkey’s coup attempt has been felt in South Africa

NBA player and Erdoğan-critic Enes Kanter’s father arrest in Turkey

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News