Roughly 800 Turkish police officers were fired or reassigned on Thursday – 500 just from Ankara, and another 274 from Turkey’s third most populous city Izmir – marking the latest in a series of anti-judiciary purges being conducted by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The AKP has for months been locked in an open political war with police officers and prosecutors linked to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, after Gulenists in December launched a series of graft probes that ensnared AKP elites. The AKP responded with a series of sweeps that systematically removed thousands of judiciary figures from their positions. The latest move comes just a few days after Erdogan lashed out at foreign media and business groups for having “always stolen the national will in [Turkey and]… pocked the resources and energy.”
“My dear brothers these organizations have always stolen the national will in this country. They have pocketed the resource and energy of this country,” Mr. Erdogan said. “Is it only BBC? Also The Wall Street Journal. Who are the bosses of these newspapers? Who own these newspapers?” he added.
Mr. Erdogan has in recent weeks escalated criticism of foreign media coverage of Turkey, reiterating assertions that an “interest rate lobby”—alleged to include some business organizations, currency traders and foreign media—is seeking to profit by suppressing Turkey’s economic growth and pushing up interest rates. The premier has previously singled out news organizations for criticism, including the BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist magazine and Reuters news agency.
The conspiracism and political bloodletting may be eroding Ankara’s regional and global standing. Turkish outlet Zaman yesterday assessed that Erdogan’s handling of anti-government protests last summer and the ongoing graft scandals have eroded Turkey’s soft power in the Arab world. The outlet quoted an Arab diplomat rejecting “Erodgan’s conspiracy arguments” and declaring that “Turkey missed the chance of becoming a regional power.”
“We believed Turkey, with its success in the region, had realized a miracle. But after the Gezi protests and the corruption operation, we believe that Turkey is no different from us,” the diplomat maintained, adding: “Democracy is needed not only for Arabs, but for all Muslims. Unfortunately, Turkey is deviating from the path of democracy.”
[Photo: mike rech /Youtube ]