Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami
Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s resounding victory in the recently held Municipal elections has stunned many detractors in the regional capitals, who were under the impression before announcement of the results that theses elections will adversely affect Erdogan’s popularity and his hold on Power. These were the most tense municipal elections ever held in the history of this transcontinental country.
The results came as a referendum for Erdogan’s AK Party accomplishing 45.8 % of popular votes in the unofficial results circulated in the local media. In the previous Municipal elections held in 2009, AK Party had managed to get merely 38.8 % popular votes.
These elections were important for various reasons: last June’s Gezi protests and December 17 massive graft raids and probe, and subsequent leak of the foreign ministry’s meeting surfaced on social media, displaying the Turkish Prime Minister and other officials as the sting operations conducted under the nose of the state authorities.
The Gulen Movement with its massive media houses had exposed and opposed the government before and during the elections. The Movement had also supported the opposition, the CHP and MHP, against AK Party in the constituencies where they were expected to defeat Erdogan’s AK Party.
However, the opposition’s massive media campaign and empty rhetoric against Erdogan and his AK Party miserably failed to dent the popularity of Turkish PM.
It is worth mentioning here that the negative politics has failed again. The political parties who take the route of mud-sledging and maligning the incumbent and are not able to present honestly their programmes and manifesto, may get media attention for the time being, but very often fail to turn the much-hyped euphoria into positive votes.
Why regime change in Turkey?
There are 5 to 6 major Muslim countries in the world: Saudi Arabia is governed by monarchy; Indonesia in far flung south-east Asia is not ready to play any major role in Muslim World affairs; Iran being Shia majority not fully trusted by most of the Muslim countries ruled by Sunnis, particularly after Syrian Revolution and Iran’s open backing to fellow Nuseyri/Alawaite (an offshoot of Shia Islam) regime of Bashar Al-Assad; Pakistan is marred by instability and terror attacks with regularity- thanks to the US invasion of Afghanistan; Egypt has already regained its authoritarian dictatorship- thanks to the US-EU-GCC- backed and funded coup; and Algeria is a hapless case of a long dictatorial regime.
Turkey is the only country left with a little hope for the weak and pro-change governments and distressed people vying for change in the region known for authoritarian monarchies and autocratic dictators.
It is pertinent to mention here that the duplicity and audacity in the western capitals, arising from their heinous imperialistic designs against the Afro-Asian nations, is completely exposed where vehement criticism against water cannons is the daily dosage of media outlets but the Egyptian Junta regime’s tanks and armoured personnel vehicles do not get any mention, and of course, the brutal killings of anti-coup protestors do not get even a little attention, either in Western mainstream media or their political leadership. The Egyptian Universities have become barracks of security forces where unabated killings of the brightest of students do not get any attention in the western capitals, which are found clamouring, though hypocritically, in favour of democracy.
Purging of State institutions from parallel state
The popular mandate will provide Erdogan to purge the rogue elements within the state institutions who have been working as a parallel state, taking orders not from their superiors but from the self-proclaimed vested interests. The leaks of audio and video tapes suggest that these sting operations were conducted with a certain mischievous plan to use them to clandestinely dislodge the government.
Kurdish Peace Bid
A complete one year has passed in Turkey without the PKK-Government bloodshed, a significant move towards sustainable peace. The entire country is pleased with the ongoing peace process with the PKK; it has stopped the bloodshed. If Turkey is able to manage peace with its own Kurds as also the Kurds in the region, the region may very soon see a strengthening Turkey which will challenge the status quo more openly and fervently.
Situation in Syria
More than four decades of Al-Assad clan rule will ultimately end in Syria; dictators do not remain forever, and so Al-Assad will have to go like the dictators before, but the most burning question is when and after how much bloodshed and destruction?
Egypt’s prolonged coup
Turkey has been opposing July 3, 2013 military coup in Egypt vehemently. Prime Minster Erdogan in his post victory balcony speech greeted people with the four- finger Rabia sign, a crime in Egypt, and most recently in Saudi Arabia, the major financier of Al-Sisi’s coup regime in Cairo.
Turkey under Erdogan emerged as the prime supporter of the Palestinian people, especially the besieged people of Gaza. Erdogan has always laid emphasis on Palestinian unity to fight against the apartheid state of Israel. Gazan’s has wholeheartedly welcomed Erdogan’s victory in the local elections. Suffocated from both the Israel and the Coup regime of Egypt, the Gazans put a lot of hope on Erdgogan’s condition of lifting the blockade of Gaza before normalizing the ties with Israel.
Russia and Ukraine
Turkish- Russian relations have flourished under Erdogan’s more than a decade rule despite disagreements on regional issues, especially in Syria where Russia is backing Al-Assad regime and in Egypt where Putin has backed the coup general, Al-Sisi’s Presidential bid, and most recently, the Crimean Issue where Turkic Crimean Tatars are fixed between Russian and Ukraine.
Twitter and YouTube ban
Social media platforms, like Twitter, YouTube and face book, are, in fact,no more social; they have grown into web news portals and are being used by people and parties to set their political agenda. Blanket ban on social media does not yield any result; people do find the ways and means to crack the ban. Moreover, outright ban on the popular social media without exploring viable means to discourage their misuse will be undemocratic, and therefore such arbitrary steps must be avoided. However, the social media sites also need to take the responsibility that people do not use these platforms viciously to malign the image and to spread false propaganda against the incumbent who has been working for the country under the democratic credentials.
The government agencies need to create their own screening process and internal regulations to stop or curtail the misuse of their platforms; there may be some penalties and provision of legal remedies to stop the wrongful use of these social media like other media platforms.
Relations with Western powers
The United States and the European Union will have to work with belligerent Erdogan. Interestingly, Russian President Putin was the first leader to congratulate Erdogan on the electoral victory. This victory will have direct and indirect long-term effect on the regions from Caucasus to Balkan, and from West Asia to North Africa. Such effect will definitely be in the interest of long-term peace which has been the most crucial need in these regions. Hopefully, the US, EU, and other powers will welcome such developments emerging in the form of Erdogan’s victory. Their positive response will definitely be in the overall interest of democracy which must not be disrupted for the pleasure of the region’s monarchical and auotocratic powers.
Erdogan’s win has come as a severe blow to the pro-status quo block; people have cheered his triumph from Cairo to Tunis and Sarajevo to Gaza; social media platforms, such as twitter and face book are abuzz with joy among the people who are vying for democratic change in the region.
Erdogan, despite having won the people’s mandate in his favour, has not been granted the immunity from acting as democratic governance; his cardinal duty is to ensure that the people’s constitutional rights are not infringed in any manner. Moreover, those in opposition, however provocative they may be in their political campaigns against him, should not be treated as his enemies. Political rivalry is an essential feature of a democracy, and which has to be treated in a constructive manner. Besides, in the wake of the emergent challenging situations confronting the regions, Turkey under Erdogan has to play most cautious and envisioned role, helping the turbulent region to restore sustainable peace while allowing democratic institutions flourish.Last Mod: 07 Nisan 2014, 17:06