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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/21/16

Turkey's Elected Dictator

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Moreover, Erdogan presumed Turkey's significant role in fighting ISIS and his consent to allow the US Air Force to use Turkey's Incirlik Air Base to strike ISIS targets gave him increased leverage against the US, which further muted any criticism for his continuing gross violation of human rights.

Those who had hopes that Erdogan might just take heed of the coup and show some restraint in dealing with those suspected of being involved in it had those hopes quickly dashed.

He wasted no time in initiating a massive witch-hunt -- nearly 9,500 are currently facing legal proceedings, and around 50,000 soldiers, judges, civil servants, and teachers have been suspended or detained. Hundreds if not thousands will languish in jail under emergency laws that permit indefinite administrative detention without formal charges.

More ominously, Erdogan "raided" higher learning institutions by barring all academics from any foreign travel even for scholarly purposes, while the state education council demanded the resignation of over 1,500 university deans.

The vast number of people rounded up so quickly raises suspicions that these individuals had already been blacklisted; Erdogan was able to do so with a nearly 200,000-strong internal police force and intelligence units, who are extremely loyal to him.

Leave it now to Erdogan, who has emerged stronger than before the coup, to further intensify his brutal war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurds, who are the US's allies no less, and continue to refuse to resume negotiations with Turkey's significant Kurdish community.

Perhaps the time has come for the EU and the US to reassess their relations with Turkey and stop enabling Erdogan to exercise free reign, when in fact his behavior has a direct and indirect impact on Western interests, both domestically and in the Middle East.

The US cannot afford any member of NATO to squash all democratic rules with no consequences. Moreover, Erdogan has demonstrated time and again a lack of loyalty and commitment as a NATO member.

Turkey should be put on notice, as Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that NATO has a "requirement with respect to democracy" Obviously, a lot of people have been arrested very quickly." He grimly added, "Hopefully we can work in a constructive way to prevent backsliding."

Moreover, Erdogan should be warned that Turkey's prospect of becoming an EU member will be a thing of the past if he continues to grossly undermine the principles of democratic governance, including the complete subordination of the judiciary to his political agenda.

Though the US and the EU need Turkey in the fight against ISIS, Erdogan should be reminded that ISIS constitutes an even greater threat to Turkey than to Western interests.

Finally, Turkey should be pressured to resume negotiations with its Kurdish minority and bring an end to the war against the PKK, which is further destabilizing the region at a time when the focus must be on defeating ISIS.

In that regard, Erdogan must understand that there will be serious consequences if he does not end his assault against the Syrian Kurds under the pretext of fighting terrorism (he conveniently accuses their military wing, the PYD, of working in conjunction with the PKK).

Whereas Erdogan viewed the failed coup as a God-sent opportunity to wipe out whoever is perceived to be his enemy, the US and the EU must use this occasion to put Erdogan on notice that history has shown time and again that totalitarian regimes come to a bitter end, and that he too will not be spared his day in court.

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Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. His dedication to writing about, analyzing, and (more...)
 

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