Erdoğan pursuing bullying tactics at home and abroad  - Arab Weekly

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to believe he has no real challenger at home or abroad, which allows him to brazenly push the envelope to his advantage on both fronts, wrote Arab Weekly columnist Claude Salhani.

At home, Turkey’s strongman sees plots and coups everywhere, which he links to U.S.-based arch-rival Fethullah Gülen, while abroad, he points to George Soros as the figure seeking to undermine his government, the article said. 

Critics have pointed to the acquittal and immediate re-arrest on new charges of Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala earlier this week as a manifestation of Erdoğan’s iron grip over the country. 

After being acquitted on error charges for supporting the 2013 Turkey-wide Gezi Park protest, Kavala was arrested for allegedly having supported the failed coup against Erdoğan on July 15, 2016. 

“On Planet Erdogan, judges can send people to jail the same day courts acquit them, as they did in the case of Kavala and company,’’ Salhani wrote. 

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a religious group led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, of orchestrating the failed putsch and has pursued a worldwide crackdown on the movement, pursuing an aggressive hunt for Gülenists both in Turkey and abroad.

Erdoğan’s bullying extends to the Arab world, where he dispatched thousands of mercenaries and extremists from the Syrian battlefield to fight in Libya, the article said.

Turkey’s strongman has criticised the European Union’s decision to launch a maritime effort focused on enforcing the U.N. arms embargo around Libya, where Ankara supports the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Meanwhile in Syria, Erdoğan’s showdown with Russia has manifested itself in support to terror-inclined jihadists, it said.

The ongoing offensive by Syrian government forces against Turkey-backed rebels in Idlib province has triggered a humanitarian crisis with some 900,000 people fleeing their homes. Hundreds of civilians have also been killed, according to the United Nations.

“It is time that the Russians, the Europeans and the Americans wake up to the mounting threat at the crossroads of the Middle East and Europe,’’ the article said.