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Trouble in Turkey
Conspiracies Galore Threaten Erdogan’s Rule

Conspiracies are a running theme of the various Turkish soap operas popular across the Middle East. And in Ankara, politics is imitating art.

First came allegations that supporters of the Gulen Movement, a secretive religious organization that has had a falling out with Erdogan’s AK Party, wiretapped hundreds of incriminating conversations among high-level government officials. Next, an alleged recording of a conversation between Erdogan and his son, in which Erdogan tells his son to hide the millions of dollars that had apparently been stashed in his house, went viral. The New York Times:

“Mr. Erdogan’s office has dismissed this latest bombshell disclosure as a fabrication. But it has inevitably heightened the sense of crisis that has enveloped Turkey since the corruption scandal burst into public view in mid-December with a series of dawn raids on the homes and offices of associates of Mr. Erdogan.

The crisis has damaged Turkey’s already troubled economy. The currency tumbled again on Tuesday while opposition lawmakers called — and not for the first time — for the government to step down, with one official saying Mr. Erdogan should either resign or flee the country “by helicopter.”

Of course, this is all part of the dark designs of the “outside forces” who are out to get Erdogan. The “porn lobby” objects to his efforts to control the flow of information throughout Turkey via the internet. Telekinesis and the “interest-rate lobby” are to blame for the massive anti-government protests that took place all over Turkey last summer, as well as Lufthansa, because it was threatened by plans to build Istanbul’s third airport. Given the many and diverse lobbies out to get Erdogan, it’s hardly surprising that someone made an incriminating tape while a huge corruption scandal is threatening his very government.

The tape’s existence is unverifiable, but the Times report also suggests that the Gulenists might even have more scandalous, possibly R-rated material to release, and that they’re just biding their time for the municipal and parliamentary elections due this year. Our guess is that the porn lobby might have something to do with that too.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I’ve said all along that Erdogan want to make himself Caliph and start a dynasty. That he broke what Ataturk built through persecution of the Military is a fact, with thousands of Officers arrested and jailed. Ataturk recognized that Islam is a backward religion incapable of spawning a modern democracy, and set up the military as a bulwark against a Muslim Dictatorship. This structure failed in the face of the recent Muslim passion for terrorism and political power. Hopefully Erdogan will get overthrown in the near future and Turkey can face a freer Democratic future.

    • Andrew Allison

      For the sake of discussion, might I propose that religion (which by definition commands obedience to a higher authority) and democracy are antithetical, as is military rule (for the same reason); and that democracy is not appropriate for countries with strong tribal tensions.

      • Fred

        I agree with the second part of your comment. Savages are savage, hence the term. But you are dead wrong about religion. Do you think it is mere coincidence that liberal democracy developed only in areas dominated by Christianity and is still for the most part only successful in those places once dominated by Christianity?

        • Tom

          Interesting thing is that those countries that have tended to handle democratic transitions best have been largely Protestant–Britain, Sweden, the USA.

          • Fred

            As a Catholic, I hate to admit it, but you’re pretty much right. I will say, however, that the USA’s extreme individualism and ludicrous egalitarianism could use a dose of Catholic community-mindedness and recognition of the necessity of hierarchy.

  • Joe Katzman

    This is funny. In a culture where conspiracy thinking has been ingrained for many hundreds of years, you don’t actually need to have the goods. You just have to start a rumor that you do, and your opponent’s own spouting of conspiracy theories about cabals will actually make your rumors *more* plausible. Which eats away at your target’s legitimacy.

    These dynamics cut both ways, of course – so the end result is very little legitimacy in the system, and its progressive substitution by force. It’s an interesting mini-lesson in why evidence-based thinking is so critical to effective self-government.

    With that said, the Gulenists are never to be underestimated. They might just have the goods, after all.

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