One wondered when the old cadre of British imperialists would jump on the bandwagon organized and operated for the last two years by no one else but U.S. President Joe Biden. Then-candidate Biden in a New York Times interview with its editorial board designed a road map for those who did not like the new Türkiye:
“(Erdoğan) has to pay a price. He has to pay a price … So I’m very concerned about … (the political future in Türkiye). … if we were to engage more directly like I was doing with them, that we can support those elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist and get more from them and embolden them to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process.”
The Economist’s recent special issue on Türkiye’s approaching dual elections for the Presidency and Parliament is nothing but an implementation of the Biden road map to “defeat Erdoğan.” If an International Politics 101 student would submit it as a term paper, you’d ask the writer to go back and find information to support the claims. The Economist’s cover article titled “Recep for trouble: Turkey could be on the brink of dictatorship” delineates the successful international moves of Türkiye to bring peace that once no one thought possible in the Balkans, in the Eastern Mediterranean and in Africa. It writes that Türkiye is important in the Black Sea and in Russia’s war in Ukraine; it admits that the Ukrainian grain deal Türkiye singlehandedly brokered with Russia and the United Nations has been helping a hungry world.
After this lackadaisical lip service, the magazine jumps to a conclusion that “Mr. Erdoğan’s behavior as the election approaches could push what is today a deeply flawed democracy over the edge into a full-blown dictatorship.” How and why? There is no answer in eight articles in a 41-page in the Economist’s special issue on the “looming dictatorship” of Erdoğan.
It says the country is heading toward a crucial election; however, it does not mention that in a country where even coalitions of two parties with similar political orientation could survive no longer than 16 months, how a political alliance among seven political parties, once considered archenemies, has become possible? That alliance could not even agree on a joint candidate for president against Erdoğan less than four months before the election. In that article, you cannot find one single mention of the Biden factor behind this alien formation of political strife in the country.
The magazine claims in a lengthy article that Türkiye’s economy is in pressing need of reform and repair. Yet, there is not one single mention of the American threats after Türkiye purchased the Russian-made S-400 defense systems when the U.S. turned down Türkiye’s demands of buying U.S.-made Patriot systems and then-President Donald Trump’s actions to punish Erdoğan, or, of course, for The Economist writers, Biden’s “advocating a new approach to the ‘autocrat’ Erdoğan over close Turkish cooperation with Russia” as recently as December. Despite all those concerted Western efforts not only to topple Erdoğan but to ruin Türkiye, the country became the second-fastest growing economy in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It has the largest natural gas stock in Europe; it is about to export its own gas to Europe soon. Russian, Azerbaijani and Turkmenistan natural gas will flow to freezing Europe after their blocking of direct purchases from Russia because of the Ukrainian conflict. No, the Turkish economy is not in urgent need of repair; that is the perception the members of the unnatural political alliance try to create. The impact of the high inflationary prices, which is literally inflaming the popular protest fires all over Europe and made even The Economist’s hometown face a general strike this winter, has been alleviated by wage increases and price-reducing financial measures. There have been no individual protests let alone widespread demonstrations in Türkiye because of the economic situation.
A ruling family?
According to The Economist, Türkiye is being ruled by a family! A ruling family! Even the term creates imagery of power handed down from father to son and each and every ministry occupied by brothers and nephews. Erdoğan’s eldest son-in-law, an elected member of Parliament, served for three years as energy minister and two years as minister of finance; his youngest son-in-law has been involved in a company that has been developing Türkiye’s now fast-selling unmanned and armed drones all over the world. First lady Emine Erdoğan is involved in an effectual social initiative to reduce waste (the “Zero Waste Movement”) that has been awarded by the United Nations recently. Their son Bilal Erdoğan has been the creator of several non-profit educational and youth-oriented sports organizations. Is this how you keep “most of the power in the family”?
The Economist says, in another baseless claim, “the effects of Syria’s civil war” is another factor making the dictatorship looming over Türkiye. Yes, Türkiye has its own share of fascistic politicians scratching the social issues that emerged after almost 5 million Syrian immigrants found safe haven in Türkiye after being bombed by their own leader Bashar Assad. But even in Britain, immigration has become the “most toxic political issue,” The Economist admitted a month ago.
Germany has an “intolerable level of xenophobia and hate against immigrants; former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has courted growing anti-immigrant opinion in Germany by claiming the country’s attempts to create a multicultural society have “utterly failed.” But no, Turks have already embraced their Syrian Muslim brothers and sisters without any widespread social and political upheavals that would require political dictatorship to suppress. Besides, Türkiye is in close contact with Syria, with Russia meditating for trilateral leadership talks that would aim to end a decade-old civil war in Syria. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has just completed his talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the solution to end the U.S. support of the PKK terrorist group’s extensions in Syria. Such an outcome of Turkish-U.S. cooperation in Syria will hasten the return of millions of refugees back to their countries.
Promotion of ‘political Islam’
Yet another shameless lie that The Economist published in defense of its claim that the Erdoğan administration should be ended is Türkiye’s promotion of “political Islam.” Türkiye has never been a promotor of political Islam within the country or without. If the magazine’s editors were not lazy, dull and ignorant about Türkiye, they would discover that Erdoğan has visited Egypt and lectured the leaders of the armed forces and political groups that multiparty democracy is the only way to run a country. Egyptian leaders thanked Erdoğan after the election in their mass demonstrations for supporting the civilian rule in their country. That was in the 2013 July issue of The Economist if they’re still interested! Also, in Syria, Erdoğan and other Turkish leaders during many visits invited Bashar Assad and his ruling Baath Movement to create an environment for fair and safe elections to prevent the political strife during and after the Arab Spring in the area. Later, Türkiye has become the only Western power fighting the al-Qaida and Daesh forces in Syria. Is this why The Economist calls Türkiye a “promoter of political Islam”?
Again, the magazine’s allegation that Türkiye has a “confrontational foreign policy” is an unsupported lie; even its own cover article disproves its own thesis. The magazine’s only point about Türkiye’s objection to Greece’s illegal military buildup on Aegean islands that had been demilitarized by international agreement, which The Economist’s own nation was a major part of, is really confrontational. If they really would like to do good journalistic work on it, they could have talked to the British historians about the Aegean islands issue and learned more about how Türkiye is involved in peaceful solutions to this really fiery issue.
The magazine finally blurts out what is actually on his mind: “The opposition should win … A democracy, but only if you can keep it.” The democracy, according to The Economist’s editors would be kept if Erdoğan was defeated in the coming elections, but they, themselves, do not see it as likely. They add the numbers, they project the numbers, but they cannot see how it is going to make the hotchpotch of the amalgam of the center, the left, the liberal, the defectors of “ultra-nationalist” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Erdoğan’s Justice and Development (AK Party) win the majority when they cannot even agree upon the candidate for the president. Especially the political parties founded by Erdoğan’s former Cabinet members and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have not been field tested.
As The Economist admits, the so-called opposition alliance is now rudderless; but the magazine is quick to find the culprit for that: Erdoğan monopolized the free press and he suppressed the free flow of information. What The Economist fails to mention yet again is the fact that this total circulation of daily newspapers supporting the opposition parties is more than double of those that support the AK Party and its ally MHP.
But “we the people” in Türkiye have demonstrated our commitment to democracy, equality and freedom time and again. The political system has undergone many phases including a recent coup attempt in 2016 and it survived. We can see not only the correlation but also the causation behind The Economist initiative, Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton’s call for Türkiye’s expulsion from NATO and the U.S. recalcitrance of selling jet fighters to Türkiye.
We’ll survive all these, too.
By DAILY SABAH
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