walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Published on: April 1, 2014
Election Aftermath
Erdogan Jumps out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire

Prime Minister Erdogan won the day in Turkey’s municipal elections, but his one-party rule will be even more hotly contested as the August presidential election approaches.

Henri J. Barkey is a professor of international relations at Lehigh University.
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  • Andrew Allison

    There is another possible conclusion, namely that most Turks concur with Erdogan’s point of view. Might it be time to inject a little reality, as opposed to wishful thinking, into the Turkish question?

    • ShadrachSmith

      Are we talking ‘return of the Sultanate’? Will you kill the Christians?

      • gabrielsyme

        The Turks have already done 99% of the job. They’ve largely succeeded in cleansing Turkey itself of Christianity. And started the job in Cyprus. And are working with the right kind of people to repeat the process in Syria.

        • Andrew Allison

          Get real! Turkey is a Muslim country. What evidence is there of persecution of the Christian mimority? The same is true of Turkish Cyprus.

          • gabrielsyme

            Are you kidding me? Turkey’s overwhelmingly Muslim character today is the legacy of genocides perpetrated against all three of its historic Christian minorities (Greek, Assyrian and Armenian). Turkey continues to make it extremely difficult for the remnant communities to worship and to train clergy. The Turkish government undertook a policy of destroying Armenian antiquities and buildings in Anatolia including graveyards and churches to wipe out evidence of Armenian presence. Christians have been prosecuted in recent years for “insulting Turkishness” merely for their faith. The few remaining Christian institutions are regularly subject to state harrassment.

            As for Northern Cyprus, Turkey ethnically cleansed the area of Greeks when they invaded. Getting rid of your religious minorities is one effective way of removing the burden of according religious freedom to those minorities.

          • Jim__L

            Christians in Turkey are underground. (And no, not just dead.) The openly Christian churches are persecuted, certainly, but don’t believe for an instant that just because a country claims to be “99% Muslim” that they are anywhere near that. Didn’t happen in Roman times, doesn’t happen now.

          • Steph Coe

            And you live in Turkey so you know this? I walk by an open door Turkish Christian church on my way to work everyday – i hear the church bells ringing from my apartment – and I went to two masses in two different churches at christmas time. As far as cyprus, learn your history – Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 – The massacres in Cyprus started in 1968 by the Greeks after the civil war in Greece started. BBC Journalists were reporting it at the time – i have transcripts of their reports. So Gabriel, you should do a bit of research before you throw out propoganda.

        • Steph Coe

          Gebriel, learn about the Cyprus issue before you give this kind of propaganda. it was in fact a group of Greeks who started massacring Turksih families after the Greek civil war started (1967). BBC reports from the field were very clear on this during the time – please refer to these. As far as your opinion on Christians here, there are a number of churches that are open for mass in 4 languages, and there is even a turkish christian church in Karakoy.

          • gabrielsyme

            Certainly there was tit-for-tat inter-communal violence before the Turkish invasion of 1974; I’m not particularly interested in the obscure question of who was more vicious or who “started it”. I suspect the Greeks would have an argument that centuries of Ottoman rule was not all light and peace for the Greek population. Regardless, the ethnic cleansing of the northern half of the island is on a much higher level of iniquity.

            As for religious freedom in Turkey itself, I know there is the ability to worship. At the same time, Christians are denied access to many of their churches, restrictions on the training and immigration of clergy are unreasonable and difficult, and Christian communities are regularly subject to harrassment and both public and private discrimination. It’s better than it was, but that’s a low bar to clear.

      • Andrew Allison

        Some evidence of anti-Christian activity would add much-needed credence to your post.

        • ShadrachSmith

          Just asking, Is that a big yes on the Sultanate? Will you kill the Christians, or what?

    • 013090

      Seeing as Erdogan controls the media and bans websites/newpapers/cable channels which criticize him, no wonder so many do….

      • Andrew Allison

        The man’s clearly a Fascist. It was not my intention to assert that he reflects the will of the Turkish people, but that it was a possibility which should be considered. We should not forget the parallels with Nazi Germany, where Hitler clearly had the support of a majority of the population. WRM argues that Putin is a student of Hitler’s methods, but I’d suggest the Erdogan is top of the current class, but we’re not allowed to say that because he’s an ally.

        • gabrielsyme

          Excellent point. It will be interesting to see if Erdogan will be able to effectively dominate his party, excluding Abdullah Gül and any other rivals from sustaining an independent power base. His record in ruthlessly taking apart the military and the Gulenists suggests he’s got the talent to do so.

  • http://abouddandachi.com/ Aboud Dandachi

    “have made Europe and the United States question his reliability as a partner”

    Among Middle Eastern countries, in contrast, there is no question whatsoever about the the USA’s reliability as a partner; from Israel to Egypt to Lebanon to the Gulf, the conclusion is that the Americans are dismally unreliable partners. The Ayatollahs in Iran have taken note of the weakness of the current POTUS and are acting accordingly.

    • Dan

      I forget who said that America is bad as an enemy but worse as a friend

  • Jim__L

    Erdogan 1, Twitterati 0.

    Guys… let’s stop taking Twitter as some kind of General Will. Hip urbanites want to believe they are the ruling class, but in a democracy, the numbers just don’t add up.

  • Curious Mayhem

    Erdogan’s party is a plurality, not a majority. The opposition is split. Not that different from the US, actually — authoritarian and autocratic “elected monarch” politics, complete with abuse of the legal system :)

    As a result, politics in Turkey is ripe for further degeneration and a badly divided Turkish society. The threat it poses to outsiders is limited. But the future of Turkey as a functional state is far from assured. Its economy is headed into recession, the lira plumbs new depths, and Turkey both runs large current account deficits and carries a massively larger debt load than 10 years ago. In every way, it looks like a Middle Eastern version of Argentina or Venezuela, two countries also headed into the toilet.

  • free_agent

    You write, “The stability of one-party rule under the “master,” as Erdogan’s followers call him, will prove to be illusory.”

    It seems to me that the most likely outcome is increasing domination by Erdogan, with the stability of an elected dictator.

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