For now, Recip Tayyip Erdoğan has defeated the military coup and successfully overturned a revolution in which the people have saved its Islamist autocrat. It’s not a coincidence that 50 percent of Turks have awarded him victory for 15 years: it is the nationalist-religious soul that has always struggled against Kemal Atatürk’s secular modernization.
Erdoğan continues to convey the idea that things are not yet settled and calls upon the population to keep coming out into Taksim Square while F16’s roar in the sky above. Today, there’s no doubt that the sultan who transposed Turkey into a country where newspapers are shut down, anti-Semitic slogans are chanted, and people are put in jail for dissent (there are currently 2,000 people accused of the crime of having “insulted” him) has been victorious.
A triumph achieved despite the fact that the Kurds have become his enemy number one, economy is on the verge of collapse, parliamentary immunity has been annulled, Hamas continues to be bankrolled, dishonesty and corruption by him and his family, which has been questioned by brave judges have ended badly, and rampant Islamism is nourished under the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
He will consolidate all this: the people want him. Many soldiers are said to have been lynched by the people called by Erdoğan into the square, thousands of arrests have already been made by the police and the President’s special forces, almost three thousand judges have been fired, and flying across the airwaves are bombastic statements that Turkey has returned to democracy due to the heroism of its people against terrorists and “Gulenists.”
For Turkey is carrying out, albeit enhancing, the same fate of these past 15 years, which will be worsened by a definitive clampdown to prevent in the future the surprise that the sultan has recently had to confront. The army, the guardians of secular legality, this time didn’t succeed. Turkey is again on the hunt for prey within the chaos of domestic and international Islamism, in search of its Ottoman imperial past among the “quicksand” of extremism.
Erdoğan, if his victory is consolidated, will tighten, first and foremost, his religious tentacles on society: it is precisely this that enabled him to call upon his people to exit their homes. Mosques will be strengthened, as a tribute to the fact that they immediately started to invite people from their minarets to come to his defense. In neighborhoods, “defenders of the faithful” will be enhanced in order to create continuous surveillance.
Schools will become more and more obsessively tied to religious texts by decreeing the decline of student’s curriculum: the brainwashing that has managed to work among young people and intellectuals, though failing to prevent the generous revolt of 2013, will be intensified by Erdoğan through the closing certain newspapers and will punish among the writers, those scholars who have known over these years thousands of penalties, interrogations and even imprisonment.
Erdoğan had just ousted, on May 24, Prime Minister Ahmet Davotoglu, who had brought his party — the AKP — to victory six months ago. He didn’t do so because the former Prime Minister had acted against him but because he had not demonstrated enough obsequious toward his plan of a constitutional overhaul that would give him more power. The judiciary and the army have been neutralized and the road to dictatorship is open. Davotoglu’s replacement, Binali Yildirim — the Turkish President’s puppet — will do it swiftly.
The entire Western world — according to democratic principles reduced on the pretext of fear as in the days of the Arab Spring — has already congratulated Erdogan for restoring legality. Russia, which was undergoing a process of fragile rapprochement with Turkey, and Israel who had just restored relations with the country, have declared their preference for stability. But who knows if it will be: we will see a lot of death sentences, laws will change in an authoritarian manner, all those who don’t agree will be imprisoned, and terrorist attacks that seek to destroy Turkey’s tourism industry will continue, which will result in economic instability.
Turkey will simultaneously be a NATO member and a friend of ISIS – though theoretically an ally of Western countries in the battle against ISIS – and the former will count on its airbases and military strength while the latter will perceive it as a safe passageway for its foreign fighters. Erdoğan will continue down this road, confident in his extortion, which makes all of Europe bow down in front of him given his role as watchdog in the war with ISIS and the containment of refugees.
It’s a powerful role, which will allow him to maintain relations with many terrorist organizations and to profess his love for Hamas while maintaining an anti-Semitic posture. Yesterday, demonstrations of joy were seen in Gaza. The Kurds, the only real fighters against ISIS, are instead preparing for the worst. Turkey was the only secular Muslim country without strong Sharia ambitions thanks to Kemal Atatürk, the great reformer. And now, what is it?
Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale ( 17 July, 2016)