News & Politics

Turkey's Erdogan Suggests Extending State of Emergency to One Year

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers and supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, June 11, 2013. A peaceful public demonstration against the redevelopment of a city park has changed into clashes between protesters and police in a test of Prime Minister Erdogan’s authority, and as clashes continue Tuesday, Erdogan made it more than clear that he had come to the end of his tolerance.(AP Photo)

Several years ago, former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made headlines for saying a good politician should “never let a crisis go to waste.” He added:

What I mean by that is that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

Here’s Emanuel explaining it on video:

Apparently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a big fan of Emanuel:

Nearly three months after Turkey’s elected government thwarted a military coup attempt, a state of emergency remains in place and a purge of suspected coup sympathizers is still unfurling across state institutions and civil society. And this week, the nation’s powerful president intimated that the end of this phase was not yet in sight.

“It would be in Turkey’s benefit to extend the state of emergency for three months,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday at a meeting of provincial leaders in the capital, Ankara, before suggesting that it could be prolonged even further. “They say one year isn’t right for Turkey. Let’s wait and see. Maybe 12 months won’t be enough.”

Erdogan declared the state of emergency in July after some army officers who opposed him staged a failed coup. According to Erdogan, Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen was the brain behind the operation. As a result, all of Gülen’s followers in Turkey have been the victims of a massive witch hunt the likes of which Turkey hasn’t seen in… well, ever.

In the months since the failed coup, tens of thousands of teachers, academics, soldiers, police officers, journalists and others have lost their jobs after the government accused them of sympathizing with Gülen. What’s more, as many as 32,000 Turks have been arrested.

Normally, even Erdogan wouldn’t have gotten away with these Stalinist purges. However, because of the state of emergency, he can do whatever he wants: international treaties protecting human rights are considered null and void for the time being.

The coup was defeated back in July, so there’s absolutely no reason to extend the state of emergency. That is, not if you’re an actual democrat.

Sadly Erdogan is no such thing. He has always been an autocrat (or a wannabe dictator), but until recently his options to amass totalitarian power were somewhat limited. Because of the failed coup, that’s different now.

No, you can bet that Erdogan isn’t going to let this crisis go to waste.