Erdogan can never replace Mustafa Kemal

Published: August 27, 2016

Twenty years ago at a diplomatic function in Karachi, one of the guests who hailed from Germany said in an aside, “There is no Islam anywhere in the world except in Pakistan and Turkey.” The Islam that I once knew certainly does not exist in Pakistan. As for Turkey, with the coming to power of Erdogan, it certainly doesn’t exist in Turkey either. There is a lot wrong with Turkey.

One of the reasons why the European Union never accepted the country into its complex fold was its dreadful human rights record. Another was its complicity in allowing IS fighters safe passage into Syria. Another was its duplicity in its dealings with other powers. After the failure of the military in the recent coup in its attempt to preserve the fabric of secularism introduced by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the reprisals were so swift and widespread and brutal that the Western world was quite shocked.

The shooting down of a Russian warplane which was attacking IS targets, a totally pointless and hostile gesture possibly motivated by a mistaken belief that it would please the West so infuriated Vladimir Putin that he wanted to inflict heavy punishment on the Turks. But wiser counsel prevailed. Then when the bomb blasts continued and Erdogan started to bomb IS targets as well as the Kurds who are fighting the Islamic State, he discovered Turkey didn’t have a friend in the world. Erdogan apologised to Putin. And so began a temporary alliance between two dictators who dispensed with democracy a long time ago. The difference is that while the Turk cannot be trusted, the Russian does not let down his friends.

The bombing of IS targets by Turkey can be seen as a reprisal, but the destruction of Kurdish forces in northern Iraq is abominable, especially as they are fighting the common enemy of the US, Russia and Europe and lots of other countries. The role of the Obama Administration in this murky mess is difficult to understand. Barack Obama might have done a lot for the US economy and for the creation of new jobs, but how could he look away when an ally was being attacked? Donald Trump, who is already pixelated like Gary Cooper in Mr Deeds Goes To Town, accused Obama and Hillary Clinton of starting IS. This is not strictly true, though there is evidence to suggest they encouraged the Saudis and Qataris to set it up. The motive? The destruction of Bashar alAssad of Syria and his government. Had it not been for Putin and the continued support of Iran, Assad might have gone under.

Coming back to the terse finger-jabbing bully who heads the government in Turkey and who of late has been rubbing noses with Nawaz Sharif and helping the latter to turn the propellers of the new tanker, he is still a highly unpredictable man. One never knows when he will whip up a souffle of vindictiveness against another power. Currently he is puncturing the bloated cynicism of President Obama, not for playing golf while floods in parts of Louisiana were washing away houses and drowning its citizens — but for supposedly conspiring against Turkey. In contrast, while Putin may be fuming underneath, when something irritates him, he acts coolly and thinks before he takes a decision. Like when he accepted Erdogan’s apology. Meanwhile, Iraq and Syria, destroyed by a cabal of vicious avaricious powers, are fighting for survival. The descendants of two great ancient civilisations live in grit and gloom and Dickensian squalor as part of a master plan to completely destabilise the Middle East.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Parvez
    Aug 28, 2016 - 1:13AM

    Its quite apparent you don’t like Erdogan. But if a WB report is to be believed Turkey is about the 17th largest economy in the world, poverty has substantially decreased and social indicators like health, education, municipal services have vastly improved for the less well off. Years ago when I went to Turkey for the first time there was no bridge across the Bosphorus, the second time there was one…… there are three.
    Possibly we should let the people decide….on the fate of Erdogan. Recommend

  • Pakistan
    Aug 28, 2016 - 10:43AM

    Erdogan has lost his head and has sleepless nights after some of the most inhuman and totally unIslamic actions. Sharif brothers only care for their survival no matter Islamic or not.Recommend

  • Toticalling
    Aug 28, 2016 - 11:18AM

    I used to like Turkey and felt that of all Muslim countries it was more secular and democratic and followed a policy of pragmatism. Things have become from bad to worse. Erdogan has been taking the country in wrong direction. First it supported IS to make sure that Kurds do not succeed who were fighting against IS and gaining grounds. Now it is playing a double game and threatening to make friends with Russia. Terror attacks have increased in the country and many experts think that Turkey is where Pakistan was a few decades ago. By making mess in its policies towards Afghanistan, Pakistan became centre of terrorism. I hope Turkey does not follow that path. But signs are imminent. I am glad that the coup was not successful, but the way Erdogan has started firing judges, lawyers, journalists and army bosses, we are seeing Turkey as a dictatorial regime. Recommend

  • Reality Check
    Aug 28, 2016 - 12:58PM

    There I thought this article would be about Erdogan and ataturk Recommend

  • NDA
    Aug 28, 2016 - 3:24PM

    The lefties of Pakistan will never be happy with any situation when it comes to Muslim countries. As for Erdegon, he is Muslim Nationalist while Kamal was a Secularist. The Kamalists period did lost even a century like the Communist doctrine on which it was based

    The West is to blame for at least some of Turkey’s difficulties in joining the EU. If Burkini is an issue then how sincere and mature are EU nations. The Brixit has exposed how superficial are European fears and weak are their resolves. The fear of Turk influx made the Brits decide in favour of Exodus form EU.

    The lesson is , let socities live within thier socio-cultural spaces and no forced conversions. Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Aug 28, 2016 - 5:40PM

    One of the reasons why the European Union never accepted the country into its complex fold was its dreadful human rights record. Another was its complicity in allowing IS fighters safe passage into Syria. Another was its duplicity in its dealings with other powers.

    The author does not have the knowledge or the vision to appreciate Turkey’s slow and staggere entrance into a uropen Uion, which the Brits have decided to exit. Erdogan has no plan to replace the Father of the Nation, but it would seem that he is the most popular and powerful Turkish political leader of our times. He is soon bcoming the decisive factor in world peace.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • taimur khan shinwari
    Aug 28, 2016 - 6:14PM

    The author was not commenting on progress in Istanbul but the chacter of a fundamentalist who is taking the country away from secularismRecommend

  • Mr Obvious
    Aug 28, 2016 - 7:59PM

    Erdogan rode to power based on the economic improvement which was driven entirely by the West … now he maintains the power like a Dictator which has alienated the West. Turkey is on verge of losing all it’s important allies and it’s economy is on the verge of “free fall” – only a matter of time before Erdogan loses popularity inside Turkey and he gets booted.Recommend

  • grumpy
    Aug 28, 2016 - 9:29PM

    Who is this know-nothing loser?Recommend

  • zahid
    Aug 28, 2016 - 11:15PM

    If a country is to be accepted in the EU it needs to become another Germany for example. Have air tight democracy. I don’t see Turkey or any Muslim country fitting the mold. Just having an election is not going to cut it. You have to be able to fire your elites no matter who they are if they misbehave. iceland’s prime minister resigned but for Nawaz Sharif the matter is trivia. For the basket case Modi he became prime minister after admitting he was responsible for the Gujarat massacres. Who respects these people. They’ll just be put up with nothing more.Recommend

  • Np
    Aug 28, 2016 - 11:39PM

    Modi admitted he was Responsible for Gujarat riots? When? For your information he has been acquitted by the courts.Recommend

  • Np
    Aug 28, 2016 - 11:41PM

    Strange title. Nowhere in the body of the article was Mustafa Kamal mentioned.Recommend

  • zahid
    Aug 29, 2016 - 3:29AM

    I saw and heard him say it in an an indian tv show called “something…adalat mein” last week on the Dunya news compilationl. It’s a good show actually, very unbiased. That judge you mentioned should be brought before a judicial panel and made to explain his decision. Also the Teesta Setalvad issue is not done yet either so the case is not closed. This is a criminal prime minister for heaven sake.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Aug 29, 2016 - 2:23PM

    @taimur khan shinwari: If you separate the two, the picture remains incomplete and a wrong impression is created. The bottom line is … is Erdogan good for Turkey and it should be only the Turkish people who should decide.Recommend

  • NDA
    Aug 29, 2016 - 5:19PM

    After these comments, Mr Mooraj will not be able to write such meaningless article for a long time. Recommend

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