Erdoğan plays dictator’s game with nukes as power threatened – columnist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s suggestion this week that the country could acquire nuclear weapons is a typical game played by dictators when their power and popularity begins to wane, author and columnist L Todd Wood wrote in the Washington Times.

Erdoğan is adopting a strategy of “bread and circuses”, keeping the Turkish public entertained while he grabs more power and takes more control of their lives, Wood said.

The Turkish president is “bribing the masses with grandiose infrastructure projects and war games on the Iraqi border, in a blatant attempt to retain the power he has amassed over the last decade by undermining the political opposition and defusing the threat from senior military officers,” he said.

A severe economic downturn means Erdoğan can’t rely on his economic accomplishments for long and talking nukes is part of the new tactic to extend his tenure, Wood said.

“The gambit is nothing more than a bit of bait-and-switch, an attempt to take the voter’s eye off his worsening economic problems while giving him a reason to beat his chest,” he said. “Meanwhile, Mr. Erdoğan will continue the same failed fiscal and political policies which have brought Turkey to its present straits.”

Turkey doesn’t have the financial resources and technical expertise to develop nuclear weapons. Meanwhile the Trump administration is seeking to arrest Turkey’s recent turn towards Russia and away from the West with a charm operation to boost Erdoğan’s ego while hoping that he will be eventually replaced, Wood said.

“It seems the average Turk on the street believes Mr. Erdoğan’s time is limited. The only question is how long he can cling to power and how much damage he can do before he goes.”