Jan 09 2018

Turkey must defeat new attack in guise of conservatives – columnist

Turkey faces a new threat to its ascendency as an independent and powerful global player in 2018, this time from conservative politicians who will work with foreign powers to try and oust President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a pro-government columnist.

Such moves will be condemned as an intervention, wrote Ibrahim Karagül for the Yeni Şafak newspaper.

“Conservative circles in particular need to pay extraordinary attention to avoid becoming an operation tool for the new multinational intervention,” he said. “Nobody should dare to try and promote century-old imperial plans under the conservative identity. Plans that say, “We can only stop Erdoğan through conservative opposition” have been revealed."

Politicians including Meral Akşener, the leader of the newly formed conservative Good Party, and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who heads the main opposition Republican People’s Party, have vowed to challenge Erdoğan in presidential elections next year that will potentially cement Turkey’s transition to a presidential system. Both politicians oppose the move, saying Turkey’s democracy is under threat, and are calling for the reinstatement of a full parliamentary system of government.

Karagül, however, asserts that countries in Europe and elsewhere are no longer in favour of strengthening democracy, rather centralising power, and Turkey is doing the same.

“Pay attention to EU countries; they have abandoned all their post-World War Two theories. None of them are focused on democracy and freedom and none of them pay attention to international agreements in this aspect,” he wrote. “Because the world is being dragged into a very rough showdown; every country is preparing for this showdown; history-making countries and nations are laying claim to their historic theories and claims.”

Akşener has come in for criticism from pro-government media, who accuse her of being in cohorts with Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, blamed by Turkey for masterminding a failed coup in 2016. Erdoğan has yet to focus his attention on Akşener, but has stepped up attacks against Kılıçdaroğlu, including via the judiciary, after Kılıçdaroğlu accused him late last year of stashing cash in offshore bank accounts through relatives and friends.