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?
ANKARA, July 8, 2018 (News Wires) - Turkey issued a decree on Sunday dismissing more than 18,000 civil servants, half of which were from the police force, ahead of this month’s expected lifting of a two-year-old state of emergency imposed after an attempted coup in July 2016.
The decree follows President Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in last month’s presidential election and comes before he swears his oath on Monday, inaugurating a powerful executive presidency.
The decree dismissed 199 academics from universities across the country, as well as more than 5,000 personnel from the armed forces.
Turkish authorities had already dismissed around 160,000 civil servants since the failed military intervention, the U.N. human rights office said in March.
Among those detained, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials.
Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown. Critics of President Tayyip Erdogan accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.
ISTANBUL, July 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Turkey issued a decree on Wednesday transferring some powers to the president, in line with its move to an executive presidential system resulting from last month’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
The decree, issued in the official gazette, makes changes to laws dating from 1924 to 2017, altering references to the prime minister and cabinet of ministers to the president and the president’s office.
In a referendum last year, Turks voted by a narrow majority to move to a powerful executive presidency. The political change is being ushered in after President Tayyip Erdogan’s triumph in the June 24 elections.
The office of prime minister is to be abolished and Erdogan will be able to form and regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval.
The government has been issuing decrees, bypassing parliament, since a state of emergency imposed following an attempted military coup in July 2016. Erdogan has promised to lift emergency rule after the election.
The changes in the latest decree will take effect when Erdogan takes the oath of office, expected in parliament on July 8 or 9.
ANKARA, June 26, 2018 (News Wires) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan won sweeping new executive powers on Monday after his victory in elections that also saw his Islamist-rooted AK Party and its nationalist allies secure a majority in parliament.
Erdogan's main rival, Muharrem Ince of the Republican People's Party (CHP), conceded defeat but branded the elections unjust and said the presidential system that now takes effect was "very dangerous" because it would lead to one-man rule.
A European rights watchdog also said the opposition had faced "unequal conditions", adding that restrictions on media freedom to cover the elections were accentuated by a continuing state of emergency imposed in Turkey after a failed 2016 coup.
Erdogan, 64, the most popular - yet divisive - leader in modern Turkish history, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters there would be no retreat from his drive to transform Turkey, a NATO member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union.
He is loved by millions of devoutly Muslim working class Turks for delivering years of stellar economic growth and overseeing the construction of roads, bridges, airports, hospitals and schools.
But his critics, including rights groups, accuse him of destroying the independence of the courts and press freedoms. A crackdown launched after the coup has seen 160,000 people detained, and the state of emergency allows Erdogan to bypass parliament with decrees. He says it will be lifted soon.
Erdogan and the AK Party claimed victory in Sunday's presidential and parliamentary elections after defeating a revitalized opposition that had looked capable of staging an upset.
"It is out of the question for us to turn back from where we've brought our country in terms of democracy and the economy," Erdogan said on Sunday night.
His victory means he will remain president at least until 2023 - the centenary of the founding of the Turkish republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Erdogan's foes accuse him of dismantling Ataturk's secular legacy by bringing religion back into public life.
Erdogan responds to such criticism by saying he is trying to modernize Turkey and improve religious freedoms.
ANKARA, June 24, 2018 (News Wires) -- Turks began voting on Sunday for a new president and parliament in elections that pose the biggest challenge to Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago.
The elections will also usher in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.
More than 56 million people were registered to vote at 180,000 ballot boxes across Turkey. Voting began at 8 am (0500 GMT) and will end at 5 pm (1400 GMT).
Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, moved the elections forward from November 2019, arguing the new powers would better enable him to tackle the nation's mounting economic problems - the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year - and deal with Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
But he reckoned without Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey's long-demoralised and divided opposition.
Addressing a rally in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands of people, Ince promised to reverse what he and opposition parties see as a swing towards authoritarian rule under Erdogan in the country of 81 million people.
"If Erdogan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to ... Fear will continue to reign ... If Ince wins, the courts will be independent," said Ince, adding he would lift Turkey's state of emergency within 48 hours of being elected.
Turkey has been under emergency rule - which restricts some personal freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with emergency decrees - for nearly two years following an abortive military coup in July 2016.
Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on the preacher's followers in Turkey. The United Nations say some 160,000 people have been detained and nearly as many more, including teachers, judges and soldiers, sacked.
The president's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent. Few newspapers or other media openly criticise the government and he has received far more election coverage than other presidential candidates.
Erdogan, who defends his tough measures as essential for national security, told his supporters at rallies on Saturday that if re-elected he would press ahead with more of the big infrastructure projects that have helped turn Turkey into one of the world's fastest-growing economies during his time in office.
Polls show Erdogan falling short of a first-round victory in the presidential race but he would be expected to win a run-off on July 8, while his AK Party could lose its parliamentary majority, possibly heralding increased tensions between president and parliament.
Other presidential candidates include Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), who is now in jail on terrorism-related charges that he denies. If the HDP exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.
In a final appeal for votes in a video clip from his high security prison, Demirtas said: "If the HDP fails to get into parliament, all Turkey will lose. Backing the HDP means supporting democracy."
ISTANBUL, June 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Tayyip Erdogan is seen falling short of a first-round victory in Turkey’s presidential election, with his support dipping 1.6 points in one week, according to a survey by pollster Gezici published on Thursday.
The poll also showed his ruling AK Party was forecast to lose its parliamentary majority in the June 24 vote.
Gezici’s survey of 2,814 respondents, conducted on June 2-3, showed Erdogan receiving 47.1 percent of votes in the first round of presidential election, down from a level of 48.7 percent in a survey which it conducted a week earlier.
The poll showed that the AK Party’s alliance with the nationalist MHP would fall short of a majority in the 600-seat assembly, with 48.7 percent of the votes, unchanged from the figure in the previous survey a week earlier.