Er­do­gan is lead­ing Turkey to dis­as­ter

Zambian Business Times - - POLITICS -

NOMINALLY, the cur­rent US-Turkey stand­off is over Amer­i­can pas­tor An­drew Brun­son, whom the Turks are hold­ing hostage un­der trumped-up ter­ror­ism charges. But the root prob­lem is Turk­ish strong­man Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to lead his na­tion to ruin.

Er­do­gan rose to power on the prom­ise of hon­est gov­ern­ment and eco­nomic pros­per­ity, and in his early years de­liv­ered some of both. But his ob­ses­sion with gain­ing an ever-stronger lock on power, along with crush­ing dis­sent from all pos­si­ble ri­vals, is un­do­ing those achieve­ments.

Brun­son isn’t even the only hostage Er­do­gan’s hold­ing in a bla­tant at­tempt to force Wash­ing­ton to de­liver his for­mer ally, the cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, who has long lived in ex­ile in Penn­syl­va­nia. Er­do­gan blames Gulen for a 2016 coup at­tempt, as well as for the ex­po­sure of ma­jor regime cor­rup­tion a few years ear­lier.

Yet the failed coup gave Er­do­gan the ex­cuse to crack down, ar­rest­ing 50,000 and fir­ing some 110,000 gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees, all for sup­posed Gu­lenist ties, as well as si­lenc­ing the last of Turkey’s once-free press.

Even Er­do­gan’s road to pros­per­ity is look­ing like a dead end: Turkey now has for­eign debts of $217 bil­lion and one of the largest trade deficits of any emerg­ing-mar­ket na­tion. In­fla­tion was soar­ing even be­fore the lat­est cri­sis; the cur­rency has lost half its value in re­cent months. (Er­do­gan’s nam­ing of his son-in-law as fi­nance min­is­ter in­spired ex­actly as much con­fi­dence as you’d ex­pect.)

Then Pres­i­dent Trump this month im­posed sanc­tions over Er­do­gan’s re­fusal to free Brun­son, and he’s threat­en­ing even more.

Er­do­gan replied by call­ing for a boy­cott on iPhones and other Amer­i­can elec­tron­ics prod­ucts — mean­ing­less blus­ter that won’t even rally the au­to­crat’s shrink­ing base of faith­ful.

Be­tween the state of emer­gency, he de­clared after the coup and his vic­to­ries in sub­se­quent voting (as well as his years of purges of the mil­i­tary), Er­do­gan has achieved near-to­tal power — even as his poli­cies are push­ing the wheels off the econ­omy.

The com­mon peo­ple are suf­fer­ing, and will suf­fer more if he stays the course. But the ever-in­creas­ing signs are that Er­do­gan doesn’t care.

Turkey has a long way to go be­fore it hits eco­nomic free-fall like Venezuela, but Er­do­gan is al­ready tak­ing the first steps in that di­rec­tion. Maybe, just maybe, Team Trump’s tough ap­proach will shock the tyrant back to his senses.

Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan Turk­ish Head of State

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