Erdogan's Power Grab

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By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

These are sensitive times in Turkey. Erdogan could stay as President of the country till 2029, after the referendum bill is enacted in the Turkish Parliament. Opinion polls suggest that he will win the referendum as fifty five million citizens go to vote, even though he has been in power already for fourteen years. 

Many political commentators see his move as a power grab, only to become an all-powerful sultan and have warned that Turkey could get into a wider chaos.

Erdogan seeks to transform the country’s parliamentary model into the executive presidency and has ensured greater stability, on the lines of similar political machinery in countries such as France.

All this is happening when he has made enemies inside the military forces and amidst a rising movement of an exiled Islamic preacher called Fethahullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally.

Dictators like to enjoy more power. He, as a president, will have the authority to appoint cabinet minsters and other important officials without parliament’s approval. His package of 18 amendments, include powers to veto the legislation, to draft the budget, to declare state emergency, to guarantee two five-year terms for president and to appoint supreme court justices.

All these power discretions could make impeachment of an all-powerful president complicated than never before in Turkey.  These developments indicate an expected constitutional reform after a failed 2016 coup attempt, as his leadership had viewed the event as an attack on democracy.

His party had been already thinking on political reforms to build a new Turkey since many years. He had supported the ideas of Arab Spring in his past and also hailed the leadership of Muslim Brotherhood members.

Infact, when has greater authoritarianism received well by the minorities and people who believe in grassroots aspirations? Despite this, many of Erdogan’s public supporters view these changes as necessary and chant his name in goodwill for developments of their cities. Minorities such as Alevis and Kurds, contrarily, think that he has gone way too far and his latest move will be dangerous for their country.

In 2013 Gezi Park protests, the image of Erdogan as a national leader has already come into question. The reasons of its cause did disseminate certain facts to the world about the situation in the country: many number of protestors didn’t buy his level of authoritarianism or paternalistic leadership style. They believed he was against public consultations in a democratic setup, used excessive police force and spread media censorship and disinformation. Certainly, a power grab will make many Turkish citizens including AK party objectors furious. Erdogan cannot label these developments as tirades.

He views the political wing of Kurdish Workers Party as a terrorist group, who have waged an insurgency in south east Turkey for a greater autonomy. Ever since he took a crack at power, cleaning the country of rival leadership is the best what he has done to safeguard his interests, despite showing a national character in the public.

About hundred journalists are already rotting in jails. During the 2016 coup, about 40,000 people were arrested and about 120,000 lost their jobs. 3000 judges had been detained. Members of a popular Turkish newspaper, Zaman, were imprisoned too because of their hostile views of Erdogan’s AK party. He then put the newspaper under the state control, asserting his will for curbing any form of dissent.

Whatever the reactions coming out of the referendum, the government propaganda is giving a disillusion. Booming tourism industry in Turkey is at a standstill now. The value of currency has declined and so have the salaries. This economic instability has directly affected the purchasing power of the middle class and the poor. Corruption and bureaucratic rigmaroles have reached high levels. He has been accused of being a “madman” for building a $600 million lavish palace for himself at this troubling time for the country.

Turkey also hasn’t taken concrete measures against fighting ISIS. On the contrary, he has accused US of supporting ISIS. Erdogan favours an embargo of Kurdish forces of YPG in their Syrian controlled territories, who have actually rescued thousands of Yazidi civilians from ISIS aggression.

Moscow agencies now have been accusing Turkey of supplying weapons and supplies to ISIS in Syria through an intercepted data including satellite images, as a proof that Turkey is expanding its regional influence.

A former Turkish national counter insurgent chief, Ahmet Sait Yayla already believes in Turkish sponsorship of ISIS in Syria through humanitarian relief agencies. Although, all these events are subject to debate, but Erdogan enjoying power at a sheer level will reaffirm his stances, especially political actions thrown against his opponents.

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