Turkey and its future under Erdogan’s continued rule

July 4, 2018 Europe , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Tom Arms

 

 

Everyone knows that the Turkish presidential elections were unfair. How could they be otherwise. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controls 90 percent of the press, the courts are packed with his supporters, the gaols are overflowing with his opponents and martial law was imposed.

 

Erdogan cheated. And the fact that he managed only the thinnest of majorities in this climate of fear and oppression is an indication of his narrowing base of support.

 

But he is still president and as such the rest of the world has to work with him.

 

Let’s first of all look at the scope of his powers. The recent presidential election was a second referendum on the vote to extend the powers of the Turkish president. All of Erdogan’s opponents in the recent campaign wanted to scrap the changes agreed in the referendum. Previously Turkey had a parliamentary system of government with a prime minister. The president had more powers than in most western democracies but nothing like what Erdogan has now.

 

For a start, the post of prime minister is gone. There is the president and vice presidents whom the president appoints. He also appoints the rest of his cabinet and the judges, controls the budget, the military and can declare a state of emergency and martial law whenever he wants. President Erdogan is half a step short of being an elected dictator.

 

So what is Erdogan going to do with that power? Pretty much more of the same.

 

The Turkish leader has turned his back on membership of the European Union. The thought of adjusting his domestic policies to conform to the demands of EU liberals is total anathema to Erdogan. And, to be honest, The Turkish president is now totally unacceptable to the EU.

 

Instead Erdogan will continue to look east and north towards Russia, the Arab world and Iran. This will mean he will seek more contacts and influence in the Islamic world and will continue to push for the Islamisation of Turkey as part of that policy. He will also continue his attacks on Israel.

 

Erdogan has never liked Syria’s President Assad and is not about to change his mind. His army has occupied a major slice of Northern Syria as part of a programme of suppressing the Kurds and he has made it clear that he intends to stay.

 

The common problem of the Kurds has meant closer links with Iran and he is friendly with China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Recently he bought a Russian missile defence system. Turkey is currently a dialogue partner in the Sino-Russian sponsored Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and has spoken of full membership.

 

All this begs the question of Turkish membership of NATO. Turkey is a key member of the alliance. It guards the southern flank against Russian expansion and has NATO’s second largest army in the alliance after the US (512,000). Air bases in Turkey are used for alliance operations in the Middle East.

 

One of the first to congratulate Erdogan on his election victory was NATO Secretary-Jens Stoltenberg. His praise was fulsome as well as quick. In contrast, the congratulatory messages from individual NATO allies were less than fulsome and late in arriving.

 

NATO does not require its members to be democratic. Turkey has had three military dictatorships since it joined the alliance in 1952. Greece, which also joined NATO in 1952, had a particularly vicious military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974. Portugal was a founding member of the alliance and it did not have a democratic government until 1974.

 

The key to NATO membership is a commitment to the defence of Western Europe. That has been a key policy of successive Turkish governments for 66 years. Erdogan appears to be undecided and is likely to use his indecision to extract concessions for every corner.

 

 

 

 

Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and emailtom.arms@lookaheadnews.com.

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