The current Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has not been having a good month. His NATO allies are distancing themselves from him, and he’s being ridiculed throughout the world for his increasingly authoritarian antics.
This satirical video from Germany (with English subtitles) has now received well over four million views:
The video has gained momentum this week as Erdoğan has travelled to the United States, where he was refused an official one-on-one meeting with President Obama. At the same time, Washington has decided to pull US military families out of southern Turkey.
Former CIA officer and political analyst Michael Maloof explains why:
It is a snub… I think the US is trying to send a message that they are not very pleased with Erdogan’s treatment, particularly of the Kurds and the potential insurrection that could occur within Turkey’s southern region as a consequence… Erdogan is bombing the Kurds like crazy and the US is less than happy with that
Erdoğan went to the USA for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) – held between 31 March and 1 April, but critics and protesters used his visit as an opportunity to express their discontent about the NATO leader’s increasing authoritarianism. For example, he has:
Been accused of crimes against humanity in Kurdish communities, where at least 310 civilians have been killed.
Cracked down on freedom of expression, attacking both the media and academics.
Detained a thousand people in just two weeks.
Called anyone questioning his policies ‘terrorists’, watering the term down so much that it means next to nothing.
Served as a “mediator and ally” for Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) and other jihadis in Syria, either directly or indirectly.
Erdoğan’s war is getting worse and worse
Since July 2015, Erdoğan’s AKP government has waged war on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its allies in northern Syria (Rojava). With this move, Erdoğan destroyed many months of promising peace talks. Ankara argues that PKK members are both separatists and terrorists, but the PKK has condemned all attacks targeting civilians and stressed:
The Kurds are not dividing anyone’s homeland; they want to live freely and democratically in their own homeland. The resistance to achieve self-governance is to make Turkey a joint-homeland… within a democratic nation.
For around eight months, the PKK focused primarily on self-defence, allowing the affiliated Civil Protection Units (YPS) to do most of the fighting in Kurdish cities in Turkey. But in March 2016, the PKK finally declared that it was going to intervene in the conflict, sending support to the YPS.
A recent image by political cartoonist Carlos Latuff at Hunasotak captures this reality perfectly, showing how Erdoğan’s indiscriminate attacks on Kurdish communities have made increasing Kurdish resistance inevitable:
NATO members are getting sick of Erdoğan’s antics
The EU called for a ceasefire in Turkey in January 2016, but Erdoğan’s government refused to comply. Meanwhile, leaked minutes from meetings between Erdoğan and EU officials have shown the Turkish leader manipulating the refugee crisis in Europe as a means of blackmailing the EU into ignoring his human rights violations at home.
All of this has gradually led the EU to lose patience with the Turkish regime. So when the German ambassador to Turkey was summoned for questioning after the release of the satirical song at the start of this post, ambassador Martin Edelmann refused to apologise for the video, and Germany made it very clear that it considered freedom of expression to be a “non-negotiable” principle. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker joined in, saying through a spokesperson that this kind of behaviour from Turkey is moving it “further from the EU rather than closer to us”.
In the United States, Amnesty International USA has greeted Erdoğan with protests over Turkey’s human rights abuses, saying:
So far Turkey has faced very little global criticism on this issue, as the international community has focused more on enlisting Turkey’s help in the refugee crisis. While that remains a critical issue, these continued human rights violations cannot be overshadowed.
Erdoğan’s security guards have demonstrated their authoritarian tendencies, attacking journalists and saying things like:
If it was in Turkey, you would be f*cked.
Obama’s refusal to have an official meeting alone with Erdoğan is a small sign that the USA doesn’t want to be seen associating with the Turkish leader too much. But as long as Turkey remains in NATO, the members of the alliance will almost certainly continue to toe the line.
Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jonathan Schanzer, has summarised the current situation within NATO perfectly, saying:
Nobody really wants Turkey to go, after years of military investments and tireless alliance building. But it’s getting harder and harder to justify.
For more information and background on the situation in Turkey, see related Canary articles here.
See the author’s recent blog posts on summarising the Turkish state’s war on freedom and peace, the west’s fading patience, and the PKK’s decision to enter the war.
Write to David Cameron and your MP to ask them to push the Turkish regime to stop its war on Kurdish communities.
Join at least 400,000 Brits who have cancelled holidays in Turkey, and support the boycott campaign here.
Only by accepting the PKK as a legitimate representative of Kurdish communities in Turkey will peace negotiations be possible. Ask the British government to change its stance towards the PKK by signing this petition.
And sign this petition aimed at preventing further state massacres in Kurdish communities.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.