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Erdogan gains more opponents

 By the Gazette Editorial Board

The recent decree issued by Turkish President Erdogan for the dismissal of more than 18,500 civil servants, police officers, soldiers and academics, can only be seen as a continuation of his attempt to clear state institutions of all voices of opposition to his authoritarian rule of the country.


On the pretext of the failed coup against his rule in July 2016, Erdogan forced a state of emergency on the country to help him get rid of the greatest number of his opponents.


The emergency has been renewed seven times. The latest period is officially due to end on July 19.

Over 110,000 civil servants had already been removed from their jobs under emergency decrees since July 2016. Tens of thousands more have been suspended on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation.


Erdogan accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of having orchestrated the attempted coup. The majority of those fired under the emergency decrees were accused of links to Gulen's movement. Gulen strongly denied any coup links and insisted his movement was peaceful.


Erdogan's recent decree was issued shortly after he won the presidential election and a day before he was due to take the oath of office, inaugurating a powerful executive presidency.


Although he won the election by no more than 52.5 per cent of the vote, Erdogan behaves as if he had come to office with overwhelming public support.


Instead of adopting policies to help him regain his lost popularity, the arrogant leader decided to crack down yet again on his opponents and escalate public anger against his regime. He seems more determined than ever today to force his fundamentalist ideology on Turkish society.


For long the Islamist leader claimed to respect the secular traditions and principles on which the state of Turkey was created in the first half of the 20th century. When he and his party in parliament came to power, however, Erdogan accelerated the removal of all his opponents in one move and before the end of the state of emergency on July 19.


The proof is that the list that comprised more than 18,000 people gathered elements from various categories of society that couldn't come together in one movement, such as that of Gulen, or be part of the failed military coup carried out by some members of the military institution in July 2016.


It is, in fact, difficult to find a connection between all those rivals other than their strong opposition to Erdogan’s new authoritarian rule and his obsession with reviving the Ottoman Empire.


It is hard to imagine a link between the military personnel who used to guard the secular nature of modern Turkey and the Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen who shares Erdogan's AK Party ideology of reviving the Islamic background of Turkey but differs on the means for its enforcement.


In other words, the decree, the Turkish media labelled as the last was a must. It was meant to remove all Erdogan's opponents from state bodies to ensure the full domination of the AKP over all state institutions.


The question is can Erdogan or any other ruler govern a society in which around 50 per cent of its members hold the ruler in contempt?