Turkey's 'Sultan' Erdogan on ever shakier ground

Press, Twitter ban last chapter of 'chaos strategy to survive'

21 March, 18:10

    Twitter blocked in Turkey following premier's threats Twitter blocked in Turkey following premier's threats

    (by Francesco Cerri) (ANSAmed) - ISTANBUL, MARCH 21 - For the past eleven years, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the undisputed master of Turkish politics: an important world leader whose fans see as having a stature comparable only to the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a 'model' for a Middle East seeking to marry Islam and democracy. Recently, however, Erdogan seems to be slipping ever close to ending up in an 'Autumn of the Patriarch' and may be pushed out of power by scandals and corruption charges. Turkish daily Zaman states that on the eve of the crucial March 30 local elections - which may prove decisive for his future - Prime Minister Erdogan has opted for a ''strategy of chaos to survive'', calling a prosecutor's charging of dozens of regime members with corruption an ''attempted coup'' orchestrated by his former ally, Fetullah Gulen. He has targeted thousands of policemen and hundreds of magistrates, including those tasked with investigations his government feels threatened by, pushing through special laws to take control of the justice system and the internet. So far these measures have backfired. The anti-corruption magistrates have been removed, but the evidence for their charges have continues to be posted on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, causing ever more of a headache for the prime minister and his moderate Islamic party AKP - despite the approval of a 'gag law'. Wiretaps reveal a shady system of power, a close interweaving of business, favors and bribes with friends under the watchful eye of the 'sultan'. Erdogan has ordered Twitter blocked and threatened to shut down Facebook and Youtube as well. Tweets nevertheless continue to come out through alternative routes, their stream making its way into the 'broad river' of Twitter. The measures seem an act of desperation and every day destroy a bit more the image of the 'important leader' in the world, already tarnished by his brutal repression of last year's Gezi Park protests. The analyst Emre Demir has written that the world is watching ''the grand tragedy of a leader forced to destroy his legacy in an attempt to survive. The head of the main opposition party CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has dubbed Erdogan the nation's 'prime liar' and ordered the members of his party not to address him any longer as 'premier', or even 'sir''. ''He must resign or flee abroad,'' he ordered, warning the prime minister not to engage in any 'provocations' or military actions in Syria prior to the elections. The polls - which no one places much faith in - say that the premier's party enjoys between 35% and 50%, depending on how close they are to those in power. The CHP is instead not expected to exceed 30% and the MHP under Devlet Bahceli is expected to rake in 20%. Some analysts say surprises may be in store for March 30, and that many AKP voters may be hiding the fact that they have changed their minds. If the AKP fails to rake in sufficient support on March 30, some say that the AKP itself may rise up against its 'important leader'.

    Political rumors quoted in Friday's newspapers say red-light videos may be in the offing that would prove compromising for some ministers and the premier himself: tactics used in the lead-up to the previous elections to eliminate opposition candidates including former CHP leader Deniz Baykal. They had accused Gulen's Islamic brotherhood - powerful in the judiciary and the police - of being responsible. Now it is Erdogan accusing Gulen of using the same weapons to bring him down.


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