Having been accused of being a paid part of the global conspiracy to destabilise Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey I thought it was time to revisit Turkey via the foreign media angle which has included twitter for as Erdogan said:
“There is now a scourge that is called Twitter. The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”
I am unpaid writing this post (and maintaining the blog altogether), and if part of any global conspiracy an unlikely pawn who is getting no kick backs (alas). I based my earlier post on Turkey from talking to people that live there and being true to secular principles of citizen government. Which does not make me anti-Muslim as the government supporter above suggested I maybe. Being a secularist is compatible with religious belief and atheism.
I mention this xenophobia conspiracy Erdogan espouses because he claims his own people are manipulated. His speeches are full of paranoid international conspiracy to overthrow him. His supporters are now taking this mantra to twitter and even to international press conferences attended by the foreign media they despise. This is something no respectful democrat does, rather authoritarians or those losing their grip on reality do these things.
Little England and the war on Twitter
The Government is going after reporters and twitter, as my own tiny experience showed when supporting the Turkish reporter Ilhan Tahir as above. Here is an example of the government party going for BBC reporter Selin Girit:
The accusations against Girit were first leveled by Ankara’s longtime mayor, Ibrahim Melih Gokcek. On June 23, Gokcek, a member of the ruling Islam-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), shared a series of inflammatory messages targeting the journalist with his 700,000+ Twitter followers.
“Who is @selingirit, BBC’s reporter in Turkey?” he asked before claiming, “Led by England, they are trying to collapse our economy via hired agents, both nationally and internationally. They are dreaming for Turkey to be the ‘sick man of Europe’ once again.” Gokcek then called on his fans to “show your democratic reaction” by popularizing the Turkish hashtag #ingiltereadinaajanlikyapmaselingirit, which roughly means “Don’t spy on behalf of England, Selin Girit.” The hashtag went viral in Turkey but within hours, a counter-campaign with the hashtag #provokatormelihgokcek, or “Melih Gokcek the provocateur,” began top trending globally. Al Monitor
The revealing of the global conspiracy has gone straight to video:
The government is now circulating its own version of events in a video entitled “The Great Game”, which tries to support Mr Erdogan’s rants about a global conspiracy against him. On June 25th thousands of protesters again gathered in Taksim Square as riot police looked on. No tear gas, no rubber bullets, no pepper spray: has a lesson in tolerance been learnt? The Economist
I am sure he hoped the protestors would not have the stomach to continue protesting, but the jails overfilled and tear gas stung in the air but the voice of dissent cried out or even as below stood still.
As Bloomberg report Twitter was at the heart of a revolution Erdogan cannot even prove:
This week, the government asked Twitter Inc. to hand over data so it could trawl for conspirators (the company refused). Facebook Inc. warned against planned legislation that would force it to share more data with the government. Police arrested more than 40 people accused of working with terrorist groups.
Government ministers are beginning to fill out details of the alleged conspiracy. European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis told a conference of private-equity investors on June 27 that preparations had involved the creation of about 200,000 fake Twitter accounts, pre-registered protest hashtags and pre-made sandwiches. Protesters in Ankara used software to turn their mobile phones into walkie-talkies, he said, claiming that some of them — armed with knives and guns — then launched a lightning 3:20 a.m. bid to seize Erdogan’s office and residence, as well as the parliament.
The burden of proof is on the government, and so far it has provided none. The government’s threats, though, could destroy trust in Turkey’s institutions and deter investment, something that a weakened Turkish economy can’t afford. Koc, which accounts for 6 percent of Turkey’s economy, has plans to invest more than 6 billion Turkish lira in the economy this year.
The recent less heavy handed show of force by police may not be so much a change of heart but because of, ironically, foreign policy.
The Syrian crisis, then, has exposed weaknesses in Erdogan’s early claims and weighs heavily on his reputation, at home as well as abroad. By a large majority, the Turkish public is now dissatisfied with and opposed to Erdogan’s Syrian policies. The critiques come not only from opposition parties, but from within previously supportive groups. Indeed, Erdogan finds himself and his grand design for Turkey confronted not only by Syria’s tyrant, but by an alliance made up of Russia, Iran, and the latter’s allies in this matter, Hezbollah and the Shiite government of Iraq. He finds himself dependent upon others—the United States, NATO, even the head of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government—for assistance. Before he had belittled the relative importance of the US and others in the region; now he complains sourly about their lack of activity and welcomes their support. In response to Syrian attacks on Turkey, Erdogan called for emergency meetings of NATO, invoking provisions for common defense. He is now receiving on Turkish soil US-made Patriot missile batteries manned by American, Dutch, and German troops. While he has made periodic shows of military force, he has clearly pulled back to the edge of history, allowing Saudi Arabia and Iran to move into the foreground, respectively, by arming the Syrian rebels and the Syrian tyrant.
In short, concrete successes in foreign policy have eluded Erdogan’s grandiose claims. The region’s vast troubles seem impervious to his remedies. Turkish elites—both from the opposition and among many who had been supporting him—have noticed the gap between rhetoric and reality; and Erdogan now finds himself mocked in the Turkish press for his frustrations. World Affairs
An irony is accusing a foreign world conspiracy of threatening him, real politic means he needs, as Turkey has always depended on, NATO allies in the ever chaotic events that shape the Middle East.
Is foreign media blowing out of proportion the picture, when domestic media is not as prominently covering?
“The reluctance of major Turkish news outlets to report on the country’s most important story … is a direct consequence of Prime Minister Erdogan’s aggressive response to criticism from the press and frequent harassment and jailing of journalists,” wrote Michael Werz, Matthew Duss and Max Hoffman in a June 4 brief for the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-leaning D.C. think tank.
Werz, speaking to The Diplomat, said he’s been surprised by how Turkish media dropped the ball in their own backyard.
“I think what can be said is that some of the larger news media, print and TV, haven’t really done their job, which is pretty astounding because they have basically missed the story of the year in their own country,” said Werz, a senior fellow at CAP, adding that in recent years, the prime minister has “created an atmosphere of fear” among journalists. Washington Diplomat
A strong Turkey, that defends human rights, religious freedom and lives up to secular ideals that treats Muslims and non Muslims alike is in the interests of all but those who would deny freedom. What Erdogan has shown is a rambling paranoia that makes all opponents terrorists, the pawns of global powers, while his government make up threats to his rule.
A democratic mandate does not give anyone absolute power over the people they are meant to lead. It cannot excuse excessive force by the authorities against peaceful dissent.
The behaviour of Prime Minister Erdogan has shown himself unfit for public office of dog catcher, let alone the office he aspires to of President.
Previous related post: Turkey On My Mind
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog