Well, I suppose you can’t really blame Turkey for wanting to crack down on terrorism what with ISIS burning Turkish soldiers alive in full HD, the PKK blowing sh*t up all over the place, and random Sunni extremists executing foreign diplomats at art galleries, right?
Wrong. You can blame Turkey – or, more appropriately, you can blame Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – for pretty much anything you want.
There are very real questions as to whether it was Erdoğan himself who reignited hostilities with the PKK after the pro-Kurdish HDP put up a stronger showing than expected at the polls in June of 2015, threatening Erdoğan’s parliamentary majority and thus his plans to consolidate power in the presidency.
Additionally, some (including Russia) have suggested that Erdoğan’s government has in the past worked with ISIS to stoke instability in Syria. Indeed, the Kremlin even went so far as to explicitly implicate Erdoğan’s son in ISIS’s lucrative oil trade.
In the final analysis, when it comes to justifying and legitimizing a shift towards tyranny and authoritarianism, there’s nothing like turmoil and death.
In a testament to just how far Erdoğan has gone towards using terror as an excuse for silencing critics and curtailing the use of social media, government mouthpiece Anadolu Agency is out on Saturday with some summary statistics on Ankara’s web monitoring. Here are the bullet points via Bloomberg:
- Turkey arrests 1,656 people for supporting terrorism on web: AA
- Suspects allegedly spread propaganda for terrorist groups, insulted state leaders and provoked hatred through social media, Anadolu Agency reports, citing Turkey’s interior ministry.
- Figure is total over past 6 months
- 1,203 other suspects freed, but have to report regularly to police; 84 suspects being interrogated by police
- Prosecutors investigating about 10,000 people over crimes allegedly committed through social media
This pretty much sums things up:
Meanwhile, the outlook is not bright. Here’s Deutsche Bank’s take:
2014, 2015 and 2016 all proved difficult for Turkey. 2017 however looks set to be more challenging.
Following years of abundant liquidity and a positive terms-of-trade shock since mid-2014, global tailwinds are turning into secular external headwinds given unexpected political outcomes in the developed world and their repercussions for the USD cycle and external financing prospects. Turkey looks set to confront two external adverse shocks in 2017: a 25% rise in oil prices and a secular shift in global capital inflows towards developed markets.
Domestic conditions are hardly supportive either. List for local drawbacks is indeed quite long: (i) extension of state of emergency for another three months, i.e. until mid-January 2017, (ii) comprehensive and continuing nature of the purge of the failed coup-plotters, (iii) rising political volatility following arrests of pro-Kurdish HDP deputies, (iv) intensified AKP-MHP efforts on a Parliamentary proposal for Executive Presidency, raising likelihood of a public referendum in H1 2017, (v) possibility of bringing back capital punishment, and (vi) strained relations with the European Union – as manifested in the European Parliament’s recent non- binding vote to freeze Turkey’s accession talks.
So, who’s up for a trip to Istanbul?