What is Erdogan’s roadmap?

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For the first time in its political life, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, came in second in the local elections held on March 31. Due to Turkey’s economic crisis, the “middle class,” the backbone of society, is struggling to afford basic food for the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic. About 70 percent of the young population wants to go abroad because they see no future for themselves in Turkey. The lack of integration of irregular migrants from Syria and Afghanistan, who were granted temporary asylum status in Turkey, and the perception by some of the Turkish public that irregular migrants are the root of the economic crisis, suggest that the issue of irregular migrants could potentially escalate into a national security crisis if not effectively managed.

While these developments are taking place in Turkey, the world is not heading in a very good direction. The war between Russia and Ukraine could turn into a major conflict involving the Baltic States. As a NATO member, Turkey could find itself in a war at any moment. On October 7, 2023, after the Hamas attacks, Israel launched a military operation against Gaza that resulted in the deaths of more than 30,000 people, mostly women and children, and led to a worldwide outcry against Israel. The future of Gaza’s 2.5 million people is uncertain as they face starvation. There is a high likelihood that Turkey will receive some of these refugees. For Erdoğan, who wants to position himself as the leader of the Islamic world, hosting Palestinian refugees in Turkey could be an important opportunity to repair his damaged reputation in the Arab community due to Turkey’s trade relations with Israel, which continued after the October 7 attacks. So, what kind of plan does Erdoğan have in mind, and what kind of preparations is he making in advance to implement it when the domestic and foreign contexts are so troubled and beset by major problems?

Since Erdoğan derives his power from popular support, he perceives the fact that a part of the population takes to the streets and organizes demonstrations in protest against the government as the biggest threat to his rule. For this reason, the Erdoğan government’s top priority is to silence opposition voices that could have an impact on large masses of people and prevent their ideas from reaching the public. In order to achieve this goal, the AKP is planning to put the “Foreign Agents Law” regulation on the parliamentary agenda in the 9th legislative package.

The draft legislation proposes the jailing of journalists and researchers working for foreign “interests,” following similar measures in Russia and Georgia that rights groups have branded as repressive. The proposed amendment to Turkey’s penal code allows for jail terms of between three and seven years for those convicted. It applies to “anyone who carries out or orders research on [Turkish] citizens and institutions with the aim of acting against the security or the political, internal or external interests of the state, on the orders or in the strategic interests of a foreign organization or state.” If parliament approves the regulation and it becomes law, it will completely silence opposing ideas in Turkey. Dissenting voices will be completely drowned out. This way, the written and visual media controlled by the Erdoğan government will only report what it wants the public to know. In other words, by employing perception management techniques in the news, the public agenda will be filled with fictitious agendas that conceal genuine issues.

Another important problem Erdoğan has to deal with is the economic crisis in Turkey. In the short term, Turkey has no way out of the crisis. Increasing geopolitical risk factors around Turkey, especially in Europe, are forcing EU countries to adopt protectionist economic policies. As a result Turkey is struggling to find the financial resources it needs in the short term. According to Erdoğan’s roadmap and future scenario, the war between Russia and Ukraine will spread to the European continent. When the conditions of war begin to prevail, the priority for the people of Turkey will be the defense of the country and their own security. Erdoğan believes that if he can keep the economic crisis under control within certain limits until then, he will be able to govern the country more easily under war conditions. The content of the Regulation on Mobilization and State of War issued by the presidency on May 21 provides concrete clues to Erdoğan’s plan. According to the regulation, the president of the republic can declare a mobilization in the event of a rebellion or a strong and active uprising against the homeland or the republic, or in the case of behavior that endangers the indivisibility of the country and the nation. Mobilization, as defined in the decree, means the use and, if necessary, the seizure of all powers and resources by the state to counter a threat to the country. For example, the Erdoğan government may decide that the geopolitical developments in Turkey’s neighborhood may harm the country’s survival, that it is therefore vital for the country to get out of the economic crisis it is in, and that the state may therefore decide to confiscate some of the people’s assets in order to generate financial resources for the state. The regulation gives this right to the Erdoğan government.

As a result, Erdoğan is trying to compensate for the loss of power he suffered in the local elections on March 31 by implementing mechanisms that will allow him to keep the people under control. Unfortunately, with these regulations, Turkey is moving towards an oligarchic, authoritarian rule.

By: Fatih Yurtsever – a former naval officer in the Turkish Armed Forces. He is using a pseudonym out of security concerns.

Source. Turkish Minute

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