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Erdogan of Turkey facing domestic and international turmoil

Steven Sahiounie, Middle East observer

Erdogan demands a nuke

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated he refuses to accept that Turkey cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, apparently forgetting that Turkey is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  He held up the example of his regional neighbor, Israel, and the fact they have multiple nuclear warheads, although they have never officially confirmed ownership. 

Idlib is falling

The Turkish military and the Turkish backed terrorists aligned with Al Qaeda are failing to hold on to their occupation of Idlib, Syria.  The Russian air force and the Syrian Arab Army have been making gains in Idlib, and Turkey faces defeat.  Erdogan is threatening to allow mass migration of Syrian refugees to Europe once again when Idlib falls.  He had been promised money by the EU to prevent the migrant boats and smuggling trade to continue from Turkey to the Greek Islands; however, he claims the promise was not delivered. 

The safe zone east of Euphrates in Syria

Turkey has been at odds with the US over its support of the SDF, who Erdogan considers a Kurdish terrorist organization.  To break the US-SDF alliance, Erdogan will set up a large ‘safe-zone’ east of the Euphrates river.  “Our aim is to settle at least one million of our Syrian brothers in an area stretching 450 kilometres along the border,” Erdoğan said.  These Syrian settlers will effectively displace the Syrian Kurds, who are a minority in the area.  The Syrians who are following Radical Islam as a political ideology, and do not wish to return to the secular Syrian government-controlled areas, will be the settlers Erdogan picks to displace the Kurds.  Erdogan’s party the AKP is based on a Radical Islamic political platform.  Syrian refugees in Turkey will be able to take up residence in the ‘safe-zone’ and annexing the area to Turkey is possibly the final goal.

The Oil exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean  

Erdogan shocked Greece and Cyrus with his new map called “Turkey, Blue Homeland”.  He made a point to be photographed in front of the map which shows all the waters surrounding Turkey.  Even though Cyprus is concerned, Erdogan stands defiant in the aggressive drilling in the waters near Cyprus, which may yield oil.  Regardless of his neighbor’s interests, he has ordered the Turkish military to defend the drilling ships and rig there.

Erdogan’s AKP party is failing

400,000 members have resigned in recent months and a total of 770,000 have resigned in the last year, according to estimates by Fatma Yavuz.  A wave of discontent in Turkey’s ruling party has been blamed on voters’ dissatisfaction with Turkey’s economy and evidenced byinter-party fighting.  Erdogan recently expelled former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu from the AKP party, along with 3 other members, who he labels as traitors.  Davutoğlu is expected to launch a rival party, and former Deputy Prime Minister, Ali Babacan, and the former President, Abdullah Gül are also planning another new party.  With 2 new parties, the AKP party may suffer from members defecting to the new parties and could be deprived of its parliamentary majority.   The September 18th meeting of the AKP executive board may see Erdogan proposing some changes to save the party from failure.  The failing economy is cited as a key problem, but the core issue is the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, which has seen Erdogan transform a staunchly secular Turkey into an Islamist regime.

Erdogan has accused the new mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, of associating with Kurdish terrorists.  Some analysts feel this ploy may be used to remove the mayor, who represents the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which dealt a huge blow to Erdogan’s prestige in the last election.  Erdogan even refused to accept the election results and ordered a recount, only to be humiliated for the second time.  

The purges

A coup was attempted on July 15, 2016, which left death and destruction in its wake.  Erdogan is convinced that the US and the Gulen movement are responsible. Erdogan began purges across the nation. Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, has announced that 17,498 members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have been expelled due to alleged involvement in the coup attempt. Turkey has prosecuted more than 1,500 attorneys, arresting 599 of them, on terrorism charges stemming from the coup attempt. 321 lawyers had been sentenced to a total of 2,022 years in prison for terrorist group membership or disseminating terrorist propaganda. Last month, Fifteen Turkish journalists were detained and access was banned to 700 online news articles. Turkey has become the largest jailer of journalists in the world, and 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released in April by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).