'Erdogan’s real aim is to take Turkey out of the Western bloc, out of the civilized world' Kilicdaroglu. (wsj).
In 1910, during a war against rebels in remote Yemen, a young officer of the Ottoman Empire liked to entertain his soldiers with music: French and Italian operas that he played every night on a gramophone in the desert.
The youthful musical preferences of Ismet Inonu—who would become president of Turkey some three decades later—were no mere personal quirk. Ever since the mid-19th century, when a series of reforms brought elections, civil rights and modern government institutions to the decaying Ottoman Empire, Turkey’s ruling elites had looked to the West as the standard of enlightenment and civilization.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secularist army officer who founded modern Turkey in 1923, sought to sever his land’s ancient bonds to the Middle East. A revolutionary determined to transform everyday life, Atatürk introduced Latin letters and the Swiss Civil Code to replace Arabic script and Islamic Shariah law. This longstanding orientation to the West has made Turkey a rare example of a major Muslim country that is also a prosperous, stable democracy (and, since 1952, a member of NATO).
Mr. Erdogan’s Turkey has come to look increasingly like just another troubled corner of the Middle East. And, many Turks and Westerners fear, the country is becoming infected with the same sicknesses—intolerance, autocracy, repression—that have poisoned the region for decades.
Early on, Mr. Erdogan—who has held de facto power since 2002—was widely hailed as a principled democrat. In recent years, however, he has grown aggressively averse to dissent, and in the wake of a failed coup attempt in July, he has unleashed an unprecedented crackdown. He is now demanding constitutional changes that would give him near-absolute authority and let him remain at the helm of this country of 80 million people until 2029.
“Erdogan’s real aim is to take Turkey out of the Western bloc, out of the civilized world, and to turn Turkey into a Middle Eastern country where he can continue to rule without any obstacles,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of Turkey’s biggest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, or CHP.
“He wants to turn Turkey into a country where there is no secularism and where people are divided along their ethnic identity and their beliefs. It is becoming a nation that faces internal conflict, just as we have seen in Iraq, Syria or Libya.” Read the full story here.