Syria offensive serving Erdoğan in same way as 2016 coup attempt - Turkish journalist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is using the military offensive in Syria, which has handed the government several triumphs on the domestic front, has allowed it to crack down on critics and corner the opposition, dissident Turkish journalist Can Dündar wrote in the Washington Post on Friday.

Hundreds of people have been detained for commenting or reporting on Turkey’s military offensive in Syria launched on Oct. 9 targeting Kurdish forces.

Language around the military incursion has been heavily policed with those dissenting opinions about Turkey’s military operation rounded up and facing investigations under anti-terrorism laws, according to Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Marie Struthers.

This chilling effect, Dündar wrote, is playing in the political favour of Erdoğan.

The  approval ratings of Turkey’s strongman have risen to around 40 percent from 30 percent before the offensive.  

Despite the fact that a recent survey of Turkish citizens has revealed that more than 42 percent of them oppose the intervention, Dündar said, as fear continues to gag the people of Turkey.

Film stars, musicians and soccer players have all joined in on the chorus of those singing the praises of the Turkish president and the offensive.

Dündar cited the example of the anti-war mayor of Diyarbakir, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, who was detained on Oct. 22 and charged with “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “propagandising for a terrorist organisation.”

“Even those abroad who have posted on Facebook using words such as ‘invasion’ and ‘war’ have faced questioning and detention upon arrival at Turkish borders — indication that the regime’s monitoring network spans the entire world,’’ Dündar said.

Just as he did with the 2016 attempted coup, Dündar wrote, Erdoğan has turned this into an opportunity to weaken the opposition, silence critics, and thus consolidate his power.