'Model' Muslim State Turkey Accelerates Towards Tyranny

What the West has so far refused to accept is that Turkey has been facing a network in symbiosis with the AKP, which has excelled in the manipulation of truth and the art of disguise thanks to their accelerated evolution under pressure from the Turkish secular system for many decades.

Many of the leading figures in opposition parties have been eliminated using sex tapes serviced to the media. In the absence of an effective opposition and benefiting from the growing economy, Erdogan’s party received more votes in each successive election.

The more power Erdogan gained, the louder he railed against the secularists and their way of life. Unrivaled, Erdogan feels no pressure in revealing this. He declares that he wants to bring up a pious youth. He insults the man on the street, and nobody dares to challenge him. He criticizes the separation of power and praises the “unity of power,” which he wants to hold as “the president” of Turkey.

Irritated liberals have begun to depart from the AKP’s autocratic course, or have been dumped by the AKP as they are no longer needed. A number of schools have been converted into Imam-Hatips (religious schools) in spite of the objections from the local communities. Restrictions on a secular way of life have increased, be it regarding alcohol, abortion, male-female relations, and TV content. The list goes on and on.

As a result, people felt the same way as they did upon inhaling pepper gas: suffocated, they took to the streets.

Erdogan’s fierce response to them -- which resulted in casualties -- revealed two things: the protesters were right; and Erdogan lacks the key qualities needed to successfully manage the delicate national and international balance of new Turkey. His imbalance and incompetence to realistically assess the situation peaked when he threatened to unleash his supporters onto the field. Two weeks after his return from Washington, where he was warmly welcomed by President Obama, he chose to suppress dissent by force and censorship.

The West should see that the attitude of Erdogan and his apparatchiks is shaped by the power they have, not by liberal principles. It is true that Turkey has become a model for the rest of the Muslim world, but what kind of a model is it? It is turning its back on secularism and it has an authoritarian leader who bashes Israel and the EU, which leads to better economic relations with Muslim countries and the West’s support. Is this really a model that the world needs?

Erdogan’s autocratic tendencies pose risks to the stability of this important country. Considering this and his willingness to use power on his own people, Washington and Brussels should be wary of appeasing Erdogan and his political sect anymore. This has been a sure way to antagonize his Western-oriented, urbanized, secular-minded opponents.

As for Erdogan, to re-qualify as a partner of the West and to gain the respect of his people, he needs to decide whether to stay on as a wannabe leader of the Sunnis or to act like a real leader of the Turkish people and genuinely embrace her centuries-old diversity. There is little hope that he will choose correctly.