Erdogan’s Lust For Power Is Destroying Turkey’s Democracy


By: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
January 26, 2017



This is the first in a series of articles based in part on eyewitness accounts about the rapidly deteriorating socio-political conditions in Turkey and what the future may hold for the country.

During the past few months I interviewed scores of Turkish citizens who escaped from Turkey following the unsuccessful military coup, fearing for their lives. Many of them left their families behind, terrified of what to expect next. Although it has the potential of becoming a major player on the global stage, Turkey’s brilliant prospects are being squandered because of President Erdogan’s insatiable lust for power. He has used an iron fist to take whatever measure, however corrupt, to manipulate the rules and undermine the basic tenets of Turkey’s democracy—freedom and human rights.

I have been puzzled for some time as to why Erdogan decided a few years ago to go on a rampage to systematically reverse the huge social, political, and judiciary progress he himself successfully championed. Had he guarded these reforms and protected human rights, he would have realized his dream of rising to the stature of Turkey’s revered founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

He has been serving first as prime minister and now president for 15 years. Nevertheless, his hunger for absolute power seems to have no limits, prompting him to take extraordinary and systematic measures to neutralize any source that challenges him, including the judiciary, press, opposition parties, military, and academia. He uses scare tactics to silence his detractors, and provides economic assistance and other incentives to his cronies to ensure their continuing support while playing his political opponents against one another to reap every ounce of advantage. Most recently, he pressed the parliament to amend the constitution to codify his dictatorial powers, which will allow him to serve two more terms ending in 2029.

Following the unsuccessful June 2016 coup, 3,228 prosecutors in the civil and administrative jurisdiction (including 518 judges) were relocated, reshuffled, or demoted from their positions. Furthermore, 88,000 policemen, journalists, educators, and other officials have been detained, and 43,000 arrested. In July 2016, the parliament approved a bill allowing Erdogan to appoint a quarter of the judges at the Council of State, and new judicial appointments will be carried out by the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which is under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry and by extension his own control.

Many attorneys were charged with belonging to the Gulen movement, which is deemed to be the sworn enemy of Erdogan, either through direct association or by having the most tenuous of ties. A lawyer who had an 18-year career in Kayseri had to flee Turkey because he and his law partners were representing schools connected to the Gulen movement. Due to that association, they were deemed suspicious by state authorities, despite the fact that the lawyers themselves were unaffiliated in any way with Gulen. Scores of lawyers were arrested and labeled as Gulenist just for having a common encrypted messaging app (i.e. WhatsApp) on their phones.

For Erdogan, the coup attempt was a “gift from God” that gave him the license to purge any individual or organization perceived to be his foe, particularly when his popularity was waning.

The thousands of officials who were arbitrarily removed have not been replaced, leading to obstructions in the legal process. Moreover, attorneys who have been arrested have been unable to obtain legal representation, as any potential lawyer would subsequently be accused of association with the Gulen movement, thus opposing the state itself.

Given the history of military coups, Erdogan decided to emasculate the military by discharging nearly 3,000 officers and issuing a decree that enabled his government to issue direct orders to the heads of all military branches over the head of the chief of the general staff. In addition, in August 2016 he appointed the deputy prime ministers and the ministers of justice, interior, and foreign affairs to participate in the Supreme Military Council (SMC), which decides on promotions of generals and other issues related to the Turkish military.

Immediately following the military coup he enacted a state of emergency that allows the government to rule by decree and fire public employees at will. Security officials, terrorism suspects, and other alleged ‘enemies of the state’ can be detained for up to 30 days without charge, and the state is under no obligation to put them on trial. There are also allegations of torture and abuse of prisoners.  In January 2017, the emergency law was extended again for three months.

To stifle his political opponents, in May 2016 he pressed the Turkish parliament to approve a bill stripping MPs of immunity from prosecution. This was widely perceived as an assault against minority Kurdish MPs who could be linked by the government to ‘terror activities’ and subjected to prosecution.

To codify the president’s absolute powers, Erdogan moved (with the support of his AK party) to change the president from a primarily ceremonial role to the sole executive head of state, and eliminate the Prime Minister position. The new constitution will also give the president power to enact some laws by decree, appoint judges and ministers, create at least one vice-president post, and increase the number of MPs to 600 from 550. In addition, it lowers the minimum age for lawmakers from 25 to 18, which will secure the political support of the next generation.

This is a move that constitutional law professor Ergun Özbudun, who was asked by Erdogan in 2007 to draw up a constitution, criticized, saying: “A democratic presidential system has checks and balances – this would be one-man rule.”

Most importantly, as a devout Muslim he skillfully uses Islam as a tool to further promote his political ambition without the need to produce any evidence for the correctness of his political agenda. When Erdogan became mayor of Istanbul in 1994, he stood as a candidate for the pro-Islamist Welfare Party. He went to jail for 4 months in 1999 for religious incitement after he publicly read a nationalist poem including the lines: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”

The number of mosques has grown from 60,000 in 1987 to more than 85,000 in 2015. Recently, a slew of government initiatives has pushed Islam deeper into Turkey’s secular education system. Examples include a plan to build mosques in 80 different state universities and convert one Istanbul University into an Islamic studies center. In December 2015, “a government-backed education council recommended extending compulsory religious classes to all primary school pupils, as well as adding an extra hour of obligatory religious classes for all high school students.”

The climate in Turkey is such that even an insolent reference to Erdogan is grounds for criminal charges; over 2,000 have been indicted under such laws. Widespread phone tapping is no longer a secret, leading to fears of expressing oneself truthfully in phone conversations. To be sure, ordinary Turks do not discuss politics in public and refrain from criticizing government officials, fearing that a secret agent may be listening to the conversation. There is only one opposition television station left operating and one such newspaper (Cumhuriyet), but almost half of the newspaper’s reporters, columnists, and executives have nonetheless been jailed.

I have tremendous admiration for the Turkish peoples’ creativity, resourcefulness, and determination to make Turkey a thriving democracy, but they are polarized between the secular and Islamic worlds—conditions in which Erdogan can further capitalize on his authoritarian political agenda.

Perhaps it’s time for the Turkish people to rise and demand the restoration of the country’s democratic principles—the same principles that made Erdogan the most revered leader during his first 10 years in power and that could have made him the new Atatürk of the Turkish people.

About the Author: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.                             Web:

instagram video downloader
You have posted a extremely detail document. I go through all of your article and I actually really like it, I understand your point of view.
instagram video downloader at 03:34AM, 2017/10/05.
gta 5 cheats
Thanks for publishing this details. I simply wish to let you know that I just look into your site and also I locate it really fascinating and useful.
gta 5 cheats at 09:31PM, 2017/11/27.
wings io
Your article is detailed, thanks to it I solved the problem I am entangled. I will regularly follow your writers and visit this site daily.
wings io at 12:51AM, 2018/01/08.
192.168.l.254 wifi password
The web site is lovingly serviced and saved as much as date. So it should be, thanks for sharing this with us. 192.168.l.254 wifi password
192.168.l.254 wifi password at 04:10AM, 2018/01/20.
مشاور بازاریابی ع
Thanks for Nice and Informative Post. This article is really contains lot more information about This Topic. 
مشاور بازاریابی عظیمی
مشاور بازاریابی ع at 12:29AM, 2018/01/22.
Dora coloring book
Yes, great US Military force. Also, in his post you have given a chance to listen about US Military. I really appreciate your work. Thanks for sharing it.
Dora coloring book
Dora coloring book at 03:17AM, 2018/01/22.
Covering vehicule
I discovered your site ideal for me. It consists of wonderful and useful posts. I've read many of them and also got so much from them. In my experience, you do the truly amazing.Truly i'm impressed out of this publish
Covering vehicule
Covering vehicule at 03:42AM, 2018/01/22.
Product Reviews
I can set up my new thought from this post of. It offers complete data. A commitment of gratefulness is all together for this basic data for all. Product Reviews
Product Reviews at 09:39PM, 2018/01/23.
niche related blog comments
Whoi, excellent, t wondered just how to cure icne. ind found your webstte by google, dtscovered todiy t'm i ltttle obvtous i greit deil. t’ve ilso idded RSS ind sive your webstte. keep us updited.
niche related blog comments
niche related blog comments at 04:41AM, 2018/01/25.
slither io
It is easy to understand, detailed and meticulous! I have had a lot of harvest after watching this article from you! I feel it interesting, your post gave me a new perspective! I have read many other articles about the same topic, but your article convinced me! I hope you continue to have high quality articles like this to share with veryone!
usps tracking
slither io at 09:40PM, 2018/01/25.
sephora gift code
I was reading the provided article with a great interest! This post is useful and informative free sephora gift code generator
sephora gift code at 01:10AM, 2018/02/01.
Miami Car Title Loans
I essentially discovered your site page and expected that would state that I have truly respected the experience of looking on the web diary sections.
Miami Car Title Loans
Miami Car Title Loans at 03:22AM, 2018/02/03.
Excellent Digitizing LLC
If you don"t mind proceed with this extraordinary work and I anticipate a greater amount of your magnificent blog entries. Excellent Digitizing LLC
Excellent Digitizing LLC at 07:13AM, 2018/02/03.
reading this article
The data you have posted is extremely valuable. The locales you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing... reading this article
reading this article at 02:24AM, 2018/02/08.
Auto Equity Loans Florida
A portable fish finder has other benefits too. They are light-weight and simple to use. Plus they let you use a fish finder in eventualities where you will not be able to employ a fixed one. Auto Equity Loans Florida
Auto Equity Loans Florida at 01:59AM, 2018/02/10.
Commercial Real Estate Loans
Our credit repair services work to fix past credit mistakes and verify credit report accuracy. Talk to a credit repair expert today! Commercial Real Estate Loans
Commercial Real Estate Loans at 02:15AM, 2018/02/10.
gold ira custodian
I am glad you take pride in what you write. This makes you stand way out from many other writers that push poorly written content. gold ira custodian
gold ira custodian at 09:46AM, 2018/02/11.
telephone voyance
it was a wonderful chance to visit this kind of site and I am happy to know. thank you so much for giving us a chance to have this opportunity.. telephone voyance
telephone voyance at 11:26PM, 2018/02/13.
تحصیل پزشکی در ان
Im no master, however I trust you simply made a fantastic point. You unquestionably completely comprehend what youre talking about, and I can really get behind that. تحصیل پزشکی در انگلستان
تحصیل پزشکی در ان at 01:37AM, 2018/02/14.
I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. I am trusting the same best work from you later on too..  pit bull chew toy
kite at 12:49PM, 2018/02/15.
hairstyles fashion
Dare to imagine a boldy efficient drop by toe experience within a utterly gynaecoid inspired room or space. Visionary provider and ground breaking treatments the fact that set individuals apart and pursue to deliberately difficulty the habit. Trend setters within the forefront for salon systems, Sisters Wonder Lounge pursue to raise any bar together with weave an element of uber proficiency we recognize with our own asking for personal together with work resides.
hairstyles fashion at 11:55AM, 2018/02/16.
Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info  musandam beach camping
kite at 03:30PM, 2018/02/16.
Massage Chair Reviews
The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface.
Massage Chair Reviews
Massage Chair Reviews at 12:26AM, 2018/02/19.
Amazingly accommodating post. This is my first time i visit here. I found such an extensive number of captivating stuff in your blog especially its trade. Genuinely its unprecedented article. Keep it up. Auto Equity Loans Hialeah
kite at 04:57AM, 2018/02/21.
I have bookmarked your website because this site contains valuable information in it. I am really happy with articles quality and presentation. Thanks a lot for keeping great stuff. I am very much thankful for this site. man with a van new York
kite at 04:04PM, 2018/02/21.

Post your comment

You can use following HTML tags: <a><br><strong><b><em><i><blockquote><pre><code><img><ul><ol><li><del>

Confirmation code:

Comments script

© 2017 by The Perspective
To Submit article for publication, go to the following URL: