Erdogan's "Dirty Games"
"I don't want to say anything political, but this can't be accepted as the new norm."
"Terrorism is everywhere now. Something needs to be done. There is no life left in Istanbul."
Zeynep Ozman, Istanbul, Turkey
"They are working to destroy our country's morale and create chaos by deliberately targeting our nation's peace and targeting civilians with these heinous attacks."
"We will retain our coolheadedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games."
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey
"Nothing that the government is doing is helping make Turkey more secure."
"The crackdown on domestic dissidents is further destabilizing the country, and when it is not destabilizing, it is increasing the dangerous polarization here."
Asli Aydintasbas, Turkish writer, Istanbul, Turkey
|One of those injured in the nightclub attack in Istanbul is rushed to hospital. Photograph: AP|
What sanctimonious risibility on Erdogan's part, speaking of coolheadedness, when he is himself an exemplar of irrational irascibility, impulsive, vengeful and untrustworthy. Some mentor he is for Turks. As for never targeting civilians, the Kurds in Turkey's southeast would have a great deal to say about that, standing in the rubble of their homes. Mr. Erdogan likes to blame the West for their perfidious interference in Turkey's affairs, causing problems for him and for his Justice and Development Party.
Whereas all the problems that Turkey now faces are directly attributable to President Erdogan's Islamist perspective and drive, so it's fairly natural that, though a member of NATO, he regards other NATO members as conspirators in a foreign plot to destabilize Turkey and bring down his political party and he with it. It's quite conceivable that Europe and the U.S. view the man as inimical to peace and good government, but the interference he alludes to will come from within Turkey, not outside it.
His resuming of deadly conflict with the PKK, his mass arrests of supporters and suspected supporters of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen after the attempted military coup he has laid at the feet of Gulenists has victimized tens of thousands of Turkish police, military, lawyers, justices, teachers and civil servants, all of whom will most certainly exercise the options of a grudge he has earned. Once a supporter of Islamic State, now forced to disown them by his NATO colleagues, ISIL too repays Turkey's lost faith.
President Erdogan's propensity to personal umbrage over criticism, leading him to launch thousands of lawsuits against journalists and ordinary citizens who dare express their opinions of him, is legendary. His attempted blackmail of the European Union, trading restraining the passage of Syrian refugees from Turkish refugee camps across the Mediterranean to Europe, for EU membership and Turkish visa-free access to Europe hasn't endeared him to Europe.
Turks of a defined Islamist persuasion may be tardy in receiving the message that their president has engineered a complex situation with many actors to make them increasingly vulnerable to deadly attacks, but it appears more than likely that others among the Turkish population are aware of this which will surely strengthen their resolve to counter his runaway antagonism to all those he labels enemies, on pain of being arrested themselves and charged with treason.
Turkey is no longer a tourist destination. Let alone a proud nation looking to the future with confidence. Its economy has stumbled badly, and its military, the second largest in NATO, has been decimated by Erdogan determined to purge all opposition to his caliphate, leaving demoralized citizens to wonder when their nightmare will end.