Published in: May 13, 2023: 08:32 AM GST
Last updated: May 13, 2023: 08:37 AM GST
There will be several general elections in our region in the next few weeks, the most dangerous of which is the Turkish elections (tomorrow, Sunday); Because it is not only important for the future of Türkiye, but also for the region and the world. There are two paths ahead of the elections: either to continue with Mr. Recep Erdogan, and that is possible, or to start another path that may be deserved from the point of view of the Turkish elites.
The Western press indicates the possibility that Erdogan will lose the race, and the “Economist” magazine, which is one of the credible press, goes in two separate articles in its current issue (May 6-12), to a detailed presentation of the possible reasons for Erdogan’s loss, most of which are collected in two cases. Two totalitarianism: economic failure and narrow freedoms, and while he appreciates his “first economic successes”, the past two decades have been the worst economically and politically because of Erdogan’s choices, which have become “totalitarian” and personal, perhaps also adventurous.
Some people do not necessarily like this analysis, and that the Western press is prejudiced, even if it relied on figures and data, especially on the issue of “killing freedoms”, but the hottest file is the economy, which has left a large segment of Turks below the poverty line.
From the southern side (the Arab countries), the picture appears “politically” more blurry, and I mean from the Arab perspective. Erdogan resorted to a semi-declared alliance with “Arab movement Islam” before 2010, and through and perhaps an escalation with the “Arab Spring.” He encouraged groups of them and opened media platforms for them, but that did not achieve what he aspired to, which is “to be the caliph of the Muslims.” In new gowns! Then he maneuvered after that and retreated from that road partially to build what was demolished. Those maneuvers have become clear that their aim, in decisions taken, is primarily his “interests” (as a leader of the Muslims), which he calls “the interests of Turkey,” since he stood at the “Davos Forum” in January 2009, withdrawing in protest against the statements of Shimon Peres, the Prime Minister of Israel. At the time, to the issue of the “Marmara” ship (May 2010). And the two incidents left a number of newborns in Gaza under the name of Erdogan! That heroism soon turned out to be a “maneuver”, as others in the region are doing, to use the Palestinian cause only; As soon as he was welcomed by the President of the Israeli state and the return of the ambassadors, and as is well known, economic exchange is growing!
A man was born in a poor neighborhood in the commercial capital, Istanbul, in 1954 from a poor family, and was educated in Quranic schools, in a turbulent political space dominated by a secular elite, destined to imitate the West, within which an opposition with a “religious” social basis grew that wanted to find an alternative to secularism. Imposed by Kemal Ataturk, and called “Ataturkism”, which grew old politically at the time and many military coups from within it. Ataturk (the father of the Turkish people, as some see it) imposed strict secularism for the Turkish social and political transformation, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, and opposition has grown since that time; The Kurds / Turks opposed Ataturk’s tendencies in 18 uprisings between 1920-1930, all under Islamic slogans, and led by “Kurdish mullahs”!
The Justice and Development Party used religion as a mount for the opposition. The party did not invent it. Rather, there were attempts to use it in previous times, under different names. Therefore, Erdogan himself used the slogan in a sermon and was imprisoned because of it, in which he said: “The mosque is our shield, and the domes are our helmets. Lighthouses are our spears.” He was accused of “stirring hatred” and the man was imprisoned for a short time, but the “Justice and Development” party was strong in Turkish society, and succeeded in the elections, so he got out of prison to become prime minister.
The religious feeling in the Muslim community disappears from the surface, but it remains latent, until the society enters into a “crisis”, and a political sect goes to exploit it. That is the historical lesson offered to us by the experience of contemporary Turkey, as well as other societies around us who have adopted that doctrine. The Turks today, as one of the sociologists described them, “Half of them are with freedom of religion, and the other half are with freedom of religion”!
The fact of the matter is that “secularism” and “religiosity” are nothing more than a means that politicians exploit in an appropriate space. It is economic need, ignorance, and the blockage of avenues for change for the better. For example, the Kurds in Turkey clung to religiosity in opposition to Ataturk, and then they adopted “socialism” in opposition to the capitalism of the Turkish elites!
In the first half of the rule of the “Justice and Development” party, which began in 2003, the party achieved remarkable economic and social progress. The balance was almost accurate between adopting the ideas of a free economy directed towards the Western market, and adopting a modern policy, especially in legislation, with a social balance in satisfying a sector of society. The people to revive moderate Islamic traditions.
With the passage of time, Mr. Erdogan went to the monopoly of power, and headed towards totalitarianism that made his closest aides jump ship. Totalitarianism is not only the shrinking of public freedoms, the reduction of media freedoms, the neutralization of political competitors, and the reduction of trust in the judiciary, but it also frightens local capital, especially those coming from abroad, so Turkey witnessed unbridled inflation and a deteriorating decline in the price of the lira, all of which turned Turkey into an “autocracy.” Comprehensive, and put Turkish democracy in the “recovery room”!
With the date of the elections tomorrow, on the 14th of this month, Erdogan will have spent fifteen years in power, exactly the period that Atatürk spent as ruler, imposing secularism as the only way for Turkey to develop and enter the era, so will the same period be repeated to witness the end of the era of “individual rule in Turkey” and militant Islam ?!
Many observers believe that Turkey is an important country, and it is the largest economy between Germany and Japan, and it has a number of resources and capabilities, and today it faces two paths: either the continuation of “Erdoganism”, and perhaps the exaggeration in foreign adventures and internal experiences frozen on the vision of one person, or a return to democracy The vitality and exploitation of institutions and the extension of freedoms, and thus an economic recovery, and this is what the opposition promises, so the Turkish elections tomorrow are pivotal, not only for the future of Turkey, but also for the region in which we live, so let us wait for the results.
Finally, the general elections are public, and the masses march with slogans and glorify national heroism. Therefore, the results of the Turkish elections do not necessarily follow the mood of the Western press.
* Citing the Middle East