Tayyip Erdogan’s victory is sad because technically it could not only give the Turkish president new overwhelming powers until 2029, but could also pose a deadly headache for the entire world. However, it’s a narrow and challenged victory that will throw Turkey into a period of instability and he’ll use it in order to create some of his usual outbursts, which will be very harmful to all… It’s not the victory that the dictator wanted, and in whose campaign called Merkel and the Dutch “Nazis” while appealing to the fertile terrain of Turkish nationalism.
Erdogan is not the kind of person who either admits that half the country, when he requests that his countrymen love him and consider him its rightful Sultan, may disagree with his bombastic declarations, or that his hometown Istanbul, and even Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Antalya, i.e. the country’s economic centers, voted “no” to the power Erdogan perceives as divine will.
Erdogan would have liked a complete victory, especially after the coup attempt last July. Since then he has worked intensely to purge Turkey: 140 thousand men have been persecuted and put in jail, 169 publications have been closed, dozens of parliamentarians have been arrested. Erdogan is convinced that his essential mission is to restore the power Turkey held under the Ottoman Empire andto make it the center of Islam making it a kind of Sunni Iran, where personal freedom has very little importance and holy prophecy is achieved.
For many years, Erdogan had been the hope of both Europe and the US, the only Islamic country acting as a bridge with the Muslim world. Erdogan was able to do everything and its opposite, he allowed ISIS to receive through an unspoken agreement men and supplies via Turkey’s borders until he completely switched colors during negotiations with the various parties, his steps from one side of the fence to the other in relation to the Syrian conflict, the persecutions against his compatriots, the warm reception given to leaders of Hamas, the incredible anti-Semitic fury with which he persecuted Israel as long as it was convenient, the difficulties posed to NATO, and in the end the anti-European outburst in which he called Merkel and the Dutch “Nazis” because they prevented rallies on his behalf within their nation’s borders while his supporters shouted Allah u Akbar…
It took a long time for the Americans and Europeans to realize that Turkey has lost Kemal Ataturk’s glorious achievements and instead stands to acquire the supposed copy of the last true Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II – Erdogan’s model in which a very popular TV series is devoted.
For Erdogan, the Empire’s history is his history, his desire, the same as the Muslim Brotherhood of which he is the actual political leader: to establish in Turkey and throughout the world the crucial caliphate that erases the West’s sinful rules. For Erdogan, it was natural to yell at Germany and the Netherlands: he feels powerful, it’s up to him to impede the flow of Muslim to Europe in exchange for a reward. It is typical of Erdogan to resort to reckless acts: he knows how much it hurts to threat Europe during a time in which it faces frequent terrorist attacks, knowing that the Islamic Army is immense and that it is mobilized according to the most powerful religious call, which could be just his, why not.
He has been reckless in jeopardizing Turkey’s relations with the US and 34 other states by making his secret agents hunt the people that he suspected to be close to his enemy Fethullah Gulen; reckless to own a building of 110 rooms; reckless to have played the visa in Europe just on an issue concerning the definition of terrorism in the Criminal Code; reckless when he yelled at Shimon Peres, “You know well how to kill.” But he’s like that, and this is what will be with Turkey until 2029.
Unfortunately now what comes up clear is that no Islamic state is bound to democracy, and we’ll feel sorry for ourselves, for Ataturk, for the Turks, even the Islamists… but this is the history of the world. Punto.
Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (April 18, 2017)