A seismic shift in power has taken place in Turkey at the ballot box. The recent nationwide municipal elections have prevented President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from declaring himself the Sultan of his New Ottoman Empire. The voters have spoken, and they are demanding a correction left: towards the traditional secular values instituted by the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The crown jewel in the election, which occurs every 5 years, was the office of Mayor of Istanbul, which went to Ekrem İmamoğlu, of the CHP. The voters saw him as a fresh face, with a humble persona, and he walked away with the prize seat, previously held for 25 years by AKP.
Experts say it was the failing economy which caused Erdogan’s loss. US Pres. Donald Trump raised tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium exports, resulting in the Turkish lira taking a nose dive, and the value of other Turkish assets plunged. The Turkish central bank went through nearly a third of its foreign currency reserves trying to stop the lira’s spiral downward.
The recession, rising unemployment, high inflation and plunging business confidence together with Turkey’s mounting climate of oppression, which extends even to the highest levels of businesses, caused an economic migration of some of the biggest and brightest of the private sector. Turkish entrepreneurs and professionals are increasingly moving their business or career abroad: USA, UK and Germany being the main destinations. Turkey is heavily dependent on foreign money, but those markets reacted when Erdogan announced his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, would run the Treasury.
Turkey’s troubled and strained relationship with USA continues a downward spiral, much like the economy. When the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Pres. Erdogan pressed for international condemnation, after his own security services presented him with overwhelming evidence that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved. In sharp contrast, Pres. Trump called Saudi Arabia an ally, and stood by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while declining to accept the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency assessment that the crown prince ordered the killing of the journalist.
Pres. Erdogan had ordered F-35 jets from America, but US officials now refuse to deliver on the deal, because Turkey has also ordered the S-400 Air Defense system from Russia. If the 2 systems were to be integrated in Turkey, there is a risk that Russia could benefit from fully understanding the F-35 technical specifications and performance. Instead of backing down, and cancelling the May delivery date for the S-400, in favor of his ally USA, Erdogan chose to remain committed to the S-400, signaling what country he perceives as his greatest threat.
Turkey was shaken to its foundations on July 15, 2016 when an attempted coup was staged against the government of Pres. Erdogan, in which 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured. Pres. Erdogan blames the head of United States Central Command, Chief General Joseph Votel of collusion with the plotters, and retired United States Army General John F. Campbell, of masterminding the coup. Pres. Erdogan feels strongly that the coup was the brain-child of Fethullah Gülen, who lives in USA, and despite asking for his extradition to Turkey, USA refuses the request, which prompted Pres. Erdogan to question, "I'm calling on the United States: what kind of strategic partners are we, that you can still host someone whose extradition I have asked for?"
When Pres. Erdogan looks out his Southern window towards Syria, all he can see is terrorists, who are working as partners with USA in the North East corner of Syria. The Pentagon may call them Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but Pres. Erdogan sees through that disguise: he knows that the SDF are just another name for the PKK, which has been responsible for thousands of deaths in Turkey across decades. Turkey is a full NATO member, and was tasked with some of the dirtiest work during the US-NATO attack on Syria for the purpose of regime change and resource acquisition; however, it appears Turkey is not treated like an ally expects. Pres. Erdogan knows that he cannot allow the US to setup an artificial “Kurdistan” homeland project, similar to what happened in Palestine, in the Turkish backyard. Rewarding terrorists with a homeland is more than Turkey could bear to witness. When Pres. Erdogan began formulating plans to deal with the threat of the Syrian Kurds, his ally Pres. Trump tweeted: “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”
Most of the media in Turkey is either state run, out rightly owned by Pres. Erdogan, or heavily censored. In November 2014 Can Dündar, editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet Daily newspaper, was arrested and jailed for reporting on exposing the Pres. Erdogan government with supplying the rebels in Syria with weapons and supplies, under the guise of humanitarian aid. Similar arrests followed, which bring the total to more than 70 journalists being imprisoned, making Turkey the world record holder of an undemocratic prize.