Last week’s resignation of Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu has marked one more stepping stone in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s path to authoritarian rule. Erdogan has followed this path for a while now, envisioning a “New Turkey,” restored to the glory of its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, at its heyday.
Interestingly, despite numerous warnings from scholars and observers, Erdogan has been left to do more or less whatever he wants. His persecution of the Kurdish minority has been merciless, in spite of calls from human rights groups to stop the violence. Turkey is also squarely at odds with the U.S., which is providing weapons to Kurdish fighters in Iraq.
Terrorist attacks are a frequent occurrence in Turkey these days as the destruction of the Syrian civil war spreads across the region. This unfortunate fact adds kindling to the fire Erdogan has stoked since he came into power: Turkey is surrounded by enemies but it can overcome them under his presidency and regain its grandeur - though, only if no one interferes with his rule. Hence the crushing of anti-government protests. The latest instance of this came on May 1, when 200 people were arrested.
The Turkish president hopes to consolidate power even further with his initiative to change the country’s system from a parliamentary to a presidential republic. Related: Germany About To Make Big Changes To Its Renewables Policy
In a recent interview with Sputnik, former Secretary-General of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ertu?rul Yalç?nbay?r, said: “In my view, May 5 [the day Davutoglu announced that he would not run for the post of chairman of the ruling AKP] should be considered as the date of the actual structural transition of Turkey to the presidential system.”
Erdogan is not happy with opponents at home and he is not happy with Turkey’s international partners, most notably the EU. In the latest show of strength, Erdogan refused to amend Turkey’s anti-terrorist laws in line with the EU’s in order to win a visa-free regime for Turkish citizens.
In the face of the increasingly undemocratic rule of President Erdogan, one may wonder why the EU is courting Turkey so insistently. One answer is the migrant crisis, which has been partially resolved with the EU-Turkey agreement that has seen migrants being taken back to Turkey in exchange for cash. Another reasons comes down to oil and natural gas: Turkey is a major hub for Middle Eastern and Central Asian hydrocarbons and its importance for the energy security of Europe will only grow, as evidenced by the map of existing and planned pipelines below. Related: World’s Largest Shipping Company Preparing For Another Oil Price Crash
(Click to enlarge)
Source: BQ Magazine
The EU needs an amicable Turkey and it’s unclear how much Europe is ready to swallow in order to ensure Turkey’s cooperation. Related: It’s Not Looking Good For Canadian LNG
Apparently, it can swallow a lot. There have been reports that Erdogan’s regime supports ISIS, despite the fact that the country’s military has taken part in airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria. And while much of this news can be considered Russian propaganda, no one is quite sure exactly how much. Turkey is reportedly one of the channels for ISIS oil, and Erdogan’s own son is purported to have benefitted from that. One Turkish MP was quoted as saying that the President uses ISIS to deal with the Kurds.
In short, the political developments in Turkey should give its European neighbors cause for concern. After all, Turkey is preparing to become an EU member.
It seems, however, that membership in the EU is not as high on the agenda in Ankara. Complete control over the country is, however. And Erdogan is not exactly concerned about European opinion right now – Europe needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Europe and, moreover, one of Erdogan’s stated aims is to make Turkey independent from the West. How realistic this is is another question; but the fact remains that Turkey is firmly on the path to an authoritarian regime, with all the grim but predictable consequences from such a development.
By Irina Slav of Oilprice.com
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