ISTANBUL: Not a New Start At All

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
dec 27 2013

Not a New Start At All

by Yusuf Kanli

Three ministers became mayoral candidates; four others were shot down
by a web of graft and irregularity scandals; two were sacked and one
minister shifted from one position to another. This was the summary of
the government reshuffle Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
announced. If elections will be held on schedule, the reshuffled
Cabinet will hardly have 19 months in office. If the allegations of
other and indeed stronger waves of corruption probes implicating the
prime minister and his family members come through, irrespective such
claims might be substantiated and court cases followed or not the
country may even go to an early election in 2014. Well, the boss
-according to latest revelations in the graft probe the prime minister
loved to be referred as such -has been categorically against early
elections, but none the less, everything is possible in politics. Well
we have heard him slapping a minister like a child, but who would bet
two weeks ago on a claim that Erdogan would sack or force four
ministers to resign. By the way, the minister who claimed to have
received slap in the face at least twice from Erdogan was sacked as
well.

Whatever, Turkey is becoming ungovernable. There were hopes that
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu -for some, the worst foreign minister
the country ever had, while some still consider him the “Kissinger of
Turkey” -would be replaced in the reshuffle. Alas, he maintained his
seat! Why? Erdogan probably still thinks the one who pulled the
foreign policy of the country in the current mess should work to take
it out as well. Is there hope? Lately, Turkey has started making some
overtures towards restoring normalcy in its foreign affairs, on the
one hand, but creating some new oddities on the other. For example
what was that persistent “blame the United States” obsession? Well the
US might not be happy with the current political team governing
Turkey. Indeed, some lobbies in Washington might be discussing behind
doors a “Turkey minus the AKP.” The AKP government might be unhappy
with such “intelligence.” Is it reasonable at all to attack the US
ambassador and accuse him of gathering EU envoys and talking of a
Turkey without Erdogan? Is it sane to believe claims that a
businessman was approached last year by the US diplomatic mission and
was urged to join an effort to wipe out the AKP?

Well, if people who were advising Americans “not to wipe down the
drain but use Erdogan” are still in government in Ankara, such
evaluations and indeed obsessions might appear normal. These guys are
apparently unaware of the diplomatic code of conduct or believe the
American ambassador is fool enough to engage in acts that would force
his hosts to declare him a persona non grata and land US-Turkish ties
in a deep coma.

All these oddities might be a product of an insane “we have an Eastern
alternative… If you do not want us in Brussels, we shall go to
Shanghai” mentality. What is the EU and what is Shanghai Five? Do we
see us as partners of some democratic countries; or are we in the same
league of the advanced democracies of the Shanghai group? Turkey
should, of course, have good relations with the West as well as the
East, but can it see its future being with the East? Come on, be
realistic!

Syria, Iran, Iraq as well as Armenia, Cyprus and Egypt… A ring of
“no problem” around Turkey. With some opium, perhaps the current mess
might be believed to be one of “no problem,” but unfortunately under
the guidance of the current team, this country was turned into one of
having no friends. Worse, our allies no longer trust us and consider
the Turkish position vis-a-vis problems around Turkey as appalling.

Is this a nice photograph of a country trying to make a fresh start
with a new Cabinet?

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