Erdoğan’s revolutionary guards in the making - report

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is building new structures to ensure loyalty and maintain political control, Howard Eissenstat, an academic on Middle East studies, wrote in a report.

Published by POMED, a Washington-based non-profit, non-partisan organisation, the report described Erdoğan’s way of thinking alongside Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism:

  • The 2013 Gezi protests, which started as an urban protest and turned into a collective dissent against Erdoğan’s authoritarian control over society, were perceived by Erdoğan as a plot against his regime. He decided to militarise the police force and ordered a massive crackdown.
  • Erdoğan sought to remake security structures to ensure loyalty before all else, and did this more intensively after the July 2016 coup attempt. This also allowed him to consolidate and maintain political control for the last 18 months under a state of emergency.
  • During this period, Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which also has a majority in the Turkish parliament, carried out purges and enforced further control over traditional security institutions such as the military.
  • Alongside the formal security institutions, Erdoğan’s party also has built a network of informal security structures, such as military contractors, political party clubs, and mobilised a newly militant AKP base.
  • Now, Erdoğan’s political enemies or dissidents face a growing record of abuse. This includes torture and targeted disappearances conducted by official and non-official state actors, encouraged by impunity.
  • The result is a sense of fundamental insecurity for anyone who dare to dissent against Erdoğan’s rule.

Eissenstat concluded that while Turkish political arena is very polarised, the public still believes that it should be ruled democratically. However, Erdoğan’s expanding control over society is unlikely to bring stability or security to Turkey.