Turkey. Internal purges and diplomatic disputes

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He appeared in February 2020 before the Silivri court, with eight other people accused, like him, of “attempting to overthrow the government”, for their involvement in the revolt in Gezi Park. The wealthy and discreet philanthropist Osman Kavala faced a life sentence for having contributed to the financing of this movement which challenged a real estate project as disproportionate as it was opaque, threatening, in the center of Istanbul, a precious historical, landscape and architectural heritage. . The prosecution then brandished a map of Turkey found in the patron’s phone, proof, according to it, of its intention to redraw the country’s borders. It was, in fact, a map of the distribution of bees …

The ridiculousness of this assembly had led to his acquittal for insufficient evidence. But just hours after this verdict, a new arrest warrant was issued against the businessman born in Paris, trained in Europe, returned to Istanbul in 1982 to take over the head of the family business. This time, this fervent advocate of Turkish heritage and cultural diversity was arrested and taken into custody at the Istanbul counterterrorism police headquarters on suspicion of involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt. Since then, Osman Kavala languishes in prison without trial, like thousands of opponents of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dictatorship. He is scheduled to appear again on November 26.

In a joint statement released a week ago, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States called for a “Fair and rapid settlement of the matter” Osman Kavala. The ambassadors of these countries were immediately summoned to the Foreign Ministry, Ankara judging “Unacceptable” their approach.

Turkey’s economy bogged down, Erdogan tightens his grip

This diplomatic crisis worsened on Saturday evening, the Turkish president, returning from an African tour, having himself demanded, an exceptional measure in international relations, the expulsion of the ten ambassadors who demanded the release of Kavala, a demand “Indecent” according to him. “I ordered our Minister of Foreign Affairs to declare these ten ambassadors persona non grata as quickly as possible”, he said, without however specifying the time limit within which these diplomats should leave the country. “From morning to night they repeat: Kavala, Kavala… But the one you are talking about, Kavala, is Soros’ agent in Turkey! he affected, in an allusion to the American billionaire of Hungarian origin George Soros, to whom he regularly compares the opponent.

In a register chauvinist and conspiratorial at the same time, Erdogan cultivates the contrast with this political adversary with commitments anchored on the left, linked to the Armenian and Kurdish minorities, having forged solid European friendships. Perfect figure of the enemy from within, in a context of growing social tensions and economic crisis, at the very moment when the country is facing a very serious monetary crisis: the Turkish lira has reached its historic low against the dollar, the October 14, after Erdogan’s brutal dismissal of three central bank executives.

Since the start of the year, the currency has lost a fifth of its value; inflation soars, exceeding 20%, one of the highest rates in the world; poverty is gaining ground. To stem the rise in prices and the depreciation of the currency, Erdogan demands from the central bank… that it lower its key rates, a policy likely to feed a mad inflationary spiral.

Already fragile before the Covid pandemic, the Turkish economy is bogged down, Erdogan further tightens his authoritarian hold and multiplies the forceful attacks, tracks down imaginary enemies: traders, “lobbies”, elected officials and Kurdish activists, opponents accused of working for the “destabilization” of the country. On October 19, more than 158 people, including 33 active soldiers, were arrested for alleged links with the Islamist brotherhood of Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of Erdogan exiled in the United States, accused of having instigated the attempt to 2016 putsch.

From internal purges to diplomatic boasting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamo-business regime struggles, with its ultranationalist rhetoric, to conceal its flaws: it only holds out through fear and threat.

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