Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s figure has become one of the most talked about and damnable both among the West and allies of Russia after the shooting down a Russian fighter jet incident. At various Internet resources I’ve read loads of flame that would be enough to try this man as an instigator, a traitor of his NATO allies’ interests, his son’s aider and abettor in ISIS oil reselling, a smuggler supplying arms for Daesh terrorists, and a dictator pressing for the new Ottoman caliphate.
You must admit that all those features add up to an extremely unflattening Hitler-like epic character. It is unlikely that someone would elect this person as their president. Meanwhile before his presidency Erdoğan had been Prime Minister of Turkey for eleven and a half years. I think that Turks had got enough chances to apprehend him as a politician and a leader. That is why they granted the majority of their voices for him and his Party.
However since the mid of 2013 Erdoğan has been dogged by political scandals. The Taksim Square protests were the first fruits. It looked suspiciously similar in organization to the previous Arab Spring wave, which struck MENA countries in 2010-2013. Incidents “with the involvement of the head of state” started to mushroom before the 2014 presidential run and after Erdoğan’s win.
Each ‘Ak Saray’ window’s price has been count up and put under a microscope; Erdoğan has been repeatedly accused of striving to constitutional dictatorship and of unwillingness of clinging to pro-Western line (the same charges instigated Ukrainian Maidan). At the same time the Western press makes a mock or pays no attention at all at the Turkish president’s consistent arguments that criticism of his leadership has been far-fetched as a part of American-backed efforts to undermine Turkey’s influence in the region.
The truth is that those are rather reasonable suspicions. In 2001 Erdoğan founded the Justice and Development Party (JDP or AKP) as a pro-Western and pro-American, EU-membership-oriented party. He had been a leader of it, while being Turkish PM (now the leader is a recent PM Ahmet Davutoğlu). The AKP came to power with substantial assistance of the USA. But when it came to support the coalition forces’ invasion of Iraq, Turkey refused to allow the American forces across its territory into northern Iraq. Nowadays accusations against AKP of secular principles drift have become more frequent. Thus it’s no surprise that Americans have a grudge against a self-willed president, who fantasizes himself a leader of an uncontrolled state with independent political course.
Remarkable facts are that Turkish generalship participated in all scandals and that the main target of criticism behaved as if he had known the news a moment ago. Here could be plenty of speculations about Erdoğan’s hypocrisy, self-restraint and a brilliant acting. But the most obvious conclusion is not hard to plumb – indeed, the president of Turkey as well as the majority of Turkish authorities remained in the dark about what happened until the last minute. It means that there are influential men in the highest quarters of Turkey, who are much willing to get rid of an inconvenient president and his government.
There are quite a number of such people among Turkish elite. It is necessary to appeal to history of Turkey in 20th century. Turkey became a secular democratic republic after the military coup d’état and a long War for Liberation under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. After that there had been peace and quiet until multiparty democracy on a Western model was established in 1945. This was when Turkish military elite showed it’s cautious and devoted keeping the old traditions – pipe-laying and fight for power in purely Oriental style ended with military coups d’état in 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997 military memorandum, each followed by bloody repressions and bans of Labour Unions, political parties and democratic freedoms. This is Turkish recent history. Each coup was committed under pretense of saving Turkey from regressive Islamisation and maintaining it as a part of ‘free world’.
Nowadays, not much has changed. The same slogans rang on Taksim Square in 2013. Thus Çevik Bir, one of the generals who planned 1997 Turkish military memorandum, said “In Turkey we have a marriage of Islam and democracy. (…) The child of this marriage is secularism. Now this child gets sick from time to time. The Turkish Armed Forces is the doctor which saves the child. Depending on how sick the kid is, we administer the necessary medicine to make sure the child recuperates”. Up till now pro-American military junta, which includes many members of high army command of Turkey, has been a force in the country. It keeps up efforts to gain power asserting itself as cure all for Turkey. The common Turks’ attitude is well shown by numerous marches, demanding to bring to justice the bloody military junta leaders of previous coups.
Several conspiracies to overthrow the government were disclosed during Erdoğan’s premiership. Each time ringleaders were the officer corps of Turkish Army belonging to extremist Ergenekon group. In 2010, alone 49 Turkish senior officers including 11 retired generals and 4 serving admirals were arrested over suspected coup plot.
The most recent incidents are with Russian jet shooting down and arms supplying of ISIS with now Erdoğan’s son is involved, now Erdoğan himself is, now both Erdoğan and his son are. Meanwhile Turkish opposition mass media bore pressure upon the Government, issuing materials about alleged boundary violations by Russian jets, making mockery of prevailing authorities for their hesitancy, and winding them up to those actions, which entailed latter fallout for Turkey.
Actually, the story about shooting down Russian military jet is obscure and discrepant. The fact that Turkish Government didn’t contact at once their Russian colleagues speaks for the presumption that they weren’t aware of what’s going on. Though militaries at once got a jerk on appealing to NATO and won its support. Also according to his own words, Ahmet Davutoğlu was the man, who gave the order to shoot down Russia’s plane. Turkish PM is an offbeat and suspicious character. Unlike Erdoğan, who was given a prison sentence after the 1997 Turkish memorandum, Davutoğlu did not have any troubles in his career growth. He’d become a professor and a visiting lecturer at Armed Forces College and other military academies all over the country. But at the same time, Davutoğlu is well-known by his Pan-Islamic ambitions, his contacts with Muslim Brotherhood, his dreams of replacing EU with Islamic Union and his involvement into those notorious arms supply of ISIS over Syrian border.
It isn’t clear if it was an attempt to discredit Turkish authorities or, on the contrary, Davutoğlu tried to step up to the plate and draw attention away his party fellow. All in all, such avowals as well as actions themselves made by the head of the Government without any arguments for rationality of this decision look framed up.
Thus five days after the mentioned incident, Russian military jet accidentally breached Israeli airspace. But Israeli Defense Minister said that there was no necessity to ‘automatically react’ to such errors, for Russian aircraft didn’t intend to attack. Approximately the same thing said Erdoğan in 2012, after Syrian militaries had shot down Turkish plane. However, on recent occasion the president was forced to acknowledge the militaries’ opinion of the necessity of undertaken measures. He had to do that because Erdoğan’s disagreement would show the deep crisis in the Turkish highest ranks. Afterwards, post factum new arrests of generals and journalists of Cumhuriyet opposition edition under cooked-up accusations were committed.
Nevertheless, it seems that military junta’s and their American sponsors’ persistent efforts upon reputational damage of Turkish Government and Erdoğan himself have been crowned with success at last. Now there is hardly anyone in the world who would want to come to defense of the recent Government in case of a new coup d’état attempt. Here Erdoğan’s figure isn’t the point. He merely turned to be the strongest leader standing in the way of both American puppeteers and extremist group of ‘doctors’.
The efficacy of their ‘treatment’ is shown up in its consequences for Turkey. The reputation of the country has been exploded so that there are appeals to kick it out of NATO. Moreover Turkey has lost an important economic partner and the main tourism source of income. Instead, every man and his dog accuses it of supporting ISIS terrorists.
On the whole, another Turkish militaries’ ‘pill’ turned into a stab in the back of Turkey itself.