Turkey is on fire after Erdogan claims “democratic” election victory and begins to crack down heavily on freedom of press.
Let’s just be clear: while it’s not precisely clear what combination of voter fraud, intimidation, and coercion ultimately led to Sunday’s sweeping ballot box victory for AKP in Turkey, there’s little question that the election results reflect the will of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more than they reflect the will of the people.
Indeed, quite a few observers have voiced concerns over the election outcome including the US.
“We have both publicly and privately raised our concerns about freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in Turkey,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.
For those unfamiliar with the backstory, Erdogan effectively started a civil war with the PKK in order to convince the public that only a dictator is capable of keeping the peace. Meanwhile, the PKK claims that Ankara has been using ISIS affiliates to stage what amount to false flag suicide bombings on Turkish citizens in order to frighten voters into relinquishing their support for the pro-Kurdish HDP.
The turmoil led directly to a plunging lira and crackdowns on anyone that even looked like they might be against the government. For example, here are some images from attacks on HDP offices in the lead up to the elections:
Indeed, just a week prior to the events depicted above, Ankara arrested three Vice News journalists (two British citizens and an Iraqi) for allegedly “engaging in terror activity” on behalf of ISIS. And as we said at the time, the media crackdown didn’t stop there. Turkish police also raided Koza-Ipek Media which, as AFP noted, owns the “Turkish dailies Bugun and Millet, the television channels stations Bugun TV and Kanalturk and the website BGNNews.com and is close to Erdogan’s political rival, the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.”
Now, in the wake of “elections” which virtually no impartial observer considers legitimate, Turkey has arrested the editors of a news magazine and charged them with attempting to orchestrate a “coup.” Here’s NBC:
Nokta’s latest edition carried the cover headline “the beginning of civil war” after the ruling AK Party founded by Erdogan regained the parliamentary majority it had lost in a June poll.
“Senior editors Cevheri Guven and Murat Capan have been sent to jail pending trial over charges of ‘staging a coup attempt’ and ‘attempting to overthrow the government,'” Nokta said on its Twitter account.
Journalists accused of involvement in coup conspiracies against Erdogan have in the past been held in custody for months or even years awaiting trial.
Turkey, which aspires to membership of the European Union, ranks towards the bottom of global press freedom rankings. Erdogan’s opponents fear Sunday’s election result, which could pave the way for him to assume greater presidential powers, could encourage increasingly authoritarian rule.
Obviously, this is a complete farce. It’s Ankara that started the civil war and it began months ago. This is just another example of Erdogan persecuting dissent and frankly, it’s appalling that we’re talking about a NATO member and a country that’s considered one of the most important emerging markets in the world.
This is a backward state run by what amounts to a dictator and he’s managed to secure Washington’s tacit support for a brutal crackdown on his political foes by agreeing to let the US fly missions from Incirlik. This is, and always has been, an unholy alliance, and for those who contend that no matter what the political situation, we must still pay attention to Turkey due to its status as an up and coming economy, we encourage you to have a look at a six month chart of the lira prior to the post-election rally. That’s what happens when you’re a third world autocracy masquerading as a partially developed economy.