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Crazy Erdogan? Turkey's PM Loses his Grip

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Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan
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The Turkish Medical Association may have been right when it announced it was "terribly worried " about the emotional well-being of [Turkish] Prime Minister Erdogan." (March 16) (Image: WAFF)

The PM reinforced the medical opinion when he broke from reality in his remarks on the major mine disaster at Soma Mining in Manisa, Turkey. Erdogan casually dismissed the tragedy of the 282 dead miners.

"I went back in British history. Some 204 people died there after a mine collapsed in 1838. In 1866, 361 miners died in Britain. In an explosion in 1894, 290 people died there. Take America with all of its technology and everything ... In 1907, 361 [miners died there]. These are usual things." PM Erdogan, Manisa, May 14, 2014

Erdogan made this statement while over a 100 miners remained trapped in the collapsed mine.

Instead of consoling the survivors, their families, and friends, the PM reduced the deaths to a numerical equation. By Erdogan's logic, since the historical incidents cited all had more deaths, the Soma losses of 201 (at the time he spoke) were in the normal range; "usual things," as the PM said.

It got worse. On the same day, May 14, Erdogan and his entourage dished out more disrespect for the miners and their community.

After a speech to miners, the PM crossed a square followed by miners protesting his callous attitude. There were boos and whistles (a sign of disapproval) by miners. Erdogan's security forces moved him into a small shop where the PM was seen slapping a young man in the face. Witnesses on the scene reported that Erdogan mistook the man for a protester who reportedly tole the PM, "You killed my father."

The ultimate insult occurred as police held one of the hundreds of mourners to the ground. In a sign of utter contempt, Yusuf Yerkel , a key Erdogan adviser, kicked the restrained man.

Erdogan adviser kicking mourner while he's down

This image sums up what is increasingly apparent to objective observers. Erdogan and his crew take what they want, ignore the people and the law, and do what they please without regard to the setting or people present. There are no reports any legal response to Mr. Yerkel 's blatantly illegal assault. (Image: Today's Zaman)

Erdogan and his cheap shot adviser were on edge for a very good reason. The Soma disaster was likely caused by "relaxation of government regulation" allowing mines to be run by "incompetent, ill-equipped and inexperienced individuals or companies" (2010: Turkish Union of Architects and Engineers). Two weeks ago, the main opposition Peoples Republican Party (CHP) proposed regulations to address the problem. Erdogan's party killed the legislation.

Even with the massive press censorship in Turkey, Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will share the blame for the deaths of hundreds of miners.

Erdogan's latest spiral out of control kicked off a few days ago at a speech by the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations.Metin Feyzioglu, head of the association, criticized some of Erdogan's policies. Again, The PM stood up and began shouting at the speaker. This video is remarkable even you do not speak Turkish. We see a composed speaker responding to an irate heckler in the audience, who just happens to be the Turkish Prime Minister. Then we see the Prime Minister storm out of the auditorium in a rage.

These very public incidents reveal an increasingly autocratic and erratic PM. Erdogan doesn't know how to behave in the presence of mourners at the site of their tragic losses. He diminishes their losses by reducing them to a mere calculation. He shouts out at speakers who dare to disagree with his policies, as though it is his divine right. In the past, Erdogan's critics labeled him the sultan due to his imperious style. In the future, a reference to Vlad the Impaler may be more accurate.

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