Blind driver: who is in charge of Turkey's foreign and domestic policies: Gezi Park, Kurds, Syria, etc.?

On August 4, 2013 an editorial in the Guardian reflected on the unraveling of Turkish democracy and its effect on Turkey and its international partners (and enemies). It began with a reflection on the sacking of Yavuz Baydar the ombudsman of Sabah, a newspaper that closely follows the ruling party's political line. His crime, to tell the truth honestly as he saw it.

"Seeing 30 brave writers and columnists thrown out of work after Taksim breeds only cynicism. This isn't what Europe means by democracy; and it is not what Turkey should mean by it either," writes the editor, But he goes on to cite many of the disturbing tendencies of Prime Minister Erdoğan's government. See the Guardian article.

Supporting the use of violent force against peaceful protesters, which even Turkey's President Gul condemned. Of course there were other protesters that were not so peaceful, but from all reports the vast majority were.

Blaming  the protests by hundreds of thousands of Turks on Lufthansa, the BBC, Jews, an economic cabala or secret financial interests and other dark foreign forces may appeal to the Turks fondness for conspiracy theories, but all of this has so damaged Turkey's vexed bid for membership in the European Union, that it appears that this goal has been abandoned.

The ambiguities in the Kurdish peace process seem to be leading to a further lack of trust, so that the policy may be put on hold. The jailed PKK leader Öcalan was reported to have told his sister that he was at the point of bailing out of the deal that he and Mr. Erdoğan's forged together.

The Prime Minister's bid to change the constitution and to turn the government into Presidential System, which he dreams will give him even more power, has earned the distrust of most of the splintered opposition groups.

The quagmire that the country is in with its Syrian policy, which has put Turkey at serious risk both internally and externally, has opened a whole new front for opposition groups. The Turkish Muslim minority of the Alevi are disturbed by Turkey's support of the Syrian opposition against the Syrian Alevite minority. The two groups are very different, but both of them share distant Shiite roots and a history of being persecuted by their coreligionists.

The list goes on and on. Cumulatively it appears that the governing party is shooting itself in the foot.

Yiğit Bulut, a journalist who has announced that foreign centers are using paranormal phenomena (telekinesis, the power to control matter at a distance with your mind) to kill the Prime Minister. He has just been made Mr. Erdoğan's chief adviser.

There appear to be two possible explanations for all of this (though there may be more): 1. Madness - the leadership of the Turkish government believes what it says and is coming unhinged. 2. Method in the madness - the Turkish government is using this to consolidate its support among the true believers. Like true believers everywhere, they will believe anything.

In addition, in Turkey there is a growing fear that the United States (the friend we love to hate) is turning against its ally. The US ambassador in Ankara has made statements that are transparent in support of the demonstrations. The US willingness to work with the Egyptian junta that overthrew President Morsi has been unsettling. The superficial similarities between the Islamist parties in Egypt and Turkey give rise to more conspiracy theories. But then, just because you are a little paranoid does not mean that no one is plotting against you.

Those of us who love Turkey very much are extremely saddened. A few years ago it seemed possible that Turkey would supply a model for the world: a liberal Muslim regime dedicated to the protection of minority rights, democracy, basic secular principals of separation of religion and the state, and a bridge between the Middle East and Europe. Hope is fading very fast.


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