American Elephants


The Problem of Turkey Grows — Revolution or Counterrevolution? by The Elephant's Child

Turkey-Map

Europe has, in general, thought of Turkey as their bulwark against the hordes of Islamic migrants (heavily infiltrated with ISIS fighters). The democratically elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan, has just been the subject of a military coup (while he was absent from the country) which failed. Many believe that it was not a real coup, but Erdogan’s own plot to dispose of future military coups, and confirm his preferred position of lifetime dictator of a radical Islamist state. That seems to be the customary and approved  form of governance in the Islamist states of the Middle East. It does not bode well.

Erdogan is taking advantage of the coup crisis to justify a major crackdown on his enemies. He seems to have a prepared list, ready to go, of officers and judges who have already been arrested in the thousands, along with civic leaders, journalists, professors, and government employees. The government is calling on the people to protest in the streets, and encouraging jihadists and IS sympathizers to raid the homes of secular people beat them and kill them.

David P. Goldman, who also writes as Spengler,  is expert in matters of demography and finance. He says that Turkey has built up a bubble of debt, financing consumption with debt. Consumer debt is now almost equal to total personal income in Turkey, compared to 20% here, which horrifies conservative economists.  Turkey’s average interest rate as consumer debt, according to the central bank, is just under 17%. The birth rate for Turks is way down, while the birth rate for Kurdish Turks remains healthy—but they want to form their own country with Kurds from Syria and Iraq.

An article by Soner Cagaptay in the Wall Street Journal captures the dangerous moment in history for the Turkish nation:

In 2014, Mr. Erdogan, acceding to term limits, stepped down as prime minister and as the head of the AKP. He instead assumed the presidency—a formerly weak office that he has been steadily transforming. The coup gives Mr. Erdogan an excuse to press ahead with his plans to cobble together a parliamentary majority; he intends to amend Turkey’s Constitution and take over the posts of prime minister and AKP chairman in addition to being president.

This process, which would make Mr. Erdogan the most powerful person in Turkey since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1950, fits into his gradualist approach to consolidating power. At the same time, it presents a risk: In the two most recent elections, Mr. Erdogan’s AKP has maxed out at 49.5% support, and although the president’s popularity has risen since the coup, there is no guarantee that this bump will last until the next elections, which, depending on when Mr. Erdogan calls them, could be as late as next year.

The quickest path to power is Islamist revolution. Erdogan supporters are Islamists and jihadists and protesting in the streets. An Islamist counter-revolution would mean the loss of its NATO membership, exposing the country to neighboring enemies, including Russia. And an economic meltdown is not unlikely.

If Mr. Erdogan were to pump up religious fervor further, he could convert the religious counter-coup d’état into an Islamist counter-revolution, ending Turkey’s status as a secular democracy. Adding to the temptation is the fact that the military, divided and discredited in the public eye following the failed coup, is in no position to prevent a counterrevolution.


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