Turkish President Erdogan the Man: Friend or Foe?

August 15, 2019 Updated: August 15, 2019

Commentary

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan describes himself as a conservative democrat, but time has shown there’s nothing democratic about him.

As Erdogan’s powers have been consolidated, he’s become more and more dictatorial and has proven that the old adage remains true: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Oddly, his career began as a soccer player before he was elected as the mayor of Istanbul in 1994. His four years as mayor ended with being banned from politics and a short stint in jail for his already extremist Islamic politics. After only a few years, Erdogan reentered politics as head of his own newly formed political party, and, after a series of significant political victories, he became prime minister and later president of Turkey in 2014.

However, he had learned the lesson not to be truthful about his real position on issues and plans in order to advance his extremism.

Erdogan took a deeply revealing public position in late 2008, when he came out in opposition to a campaign to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Long before, late in the reign of the Ottoman empire, during World War I, the Ottomans reacted harshly to the Armenian minority siding with the Russians. They rounded up all the Armenians (men, women, and children) they could get their hands on and marched them off into the desert without supplies, where they died of thirst and the elements by the tens of thousands.

In his opposition, Erdogan stated, “We did not commit a crime and therefore, we do not need to apologize.” Understand, he didn’t dispute the killing of the Armenians, he disputed whether that was a crime.

He went on to state: “It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide.” To be absolutely clear, this represents the radical Islamist view that killing non-Muslims by definition can neither be genocide nor a crime.

There can be no doubt that Erdogan will happily slaughter people by the thousands to achieve his goals. That’s not the kind of person who will ever be a friend to the United States or the world.

Widely reported audio recordings surfaced in 2013–14 of Erdogan and his son allegedly discussing how to hide very large sums of money. The regime instituted full control over the internet in Turkey, allowing the government to block any sites reporting the corruption, and yet gave the Turkish government full access to everyone’s private information. The regime also moved immediately to block Twitter in Turkey, although it wasn’t particularly effective and was later lifted. Erdogan has threatened to block Facebook as well.

In mid-2016, the Turkish military reportedly attempted a coup in order to oust Erdogan from power. The coup was put down immediately under extraordinarily suspicious circumstances, leading some to suggest that the coup was, in fact, staged by Erdogan.

However, even more suspicious was that within days, the regime arrested more than 200 journalists, closed more than 120 media outlets, and fired approximately 160,000 government employees from every Turkish government agency, including judges. In all cases, those arrested or fired were those not loyal to Erdogan, and they were quickly replaced with loyalists.

The sheer magnitude of arresting and firing that many people and replacing them with loyalists would have required many months of preparation in order to put together such comprehensive lists, so much so that it’s almost impossible for the so-called coup to have been anything other than a blatant power grab by Erdogan.

Regardless of who organized the possible coup attempt, Erdogan used the event to consolidate his power in the entire country, including the media, and now holds complete dictatorial power in Turkey.

Erdogan has worked to reestablish a number of Ottoman customs and traditions, including a reintroduction of Ottoman terms not used in nearly 100 years. For example, when meeting with foreign leaders, he reportedly uses an Ottoman-style reception with guards dressed in period costumes based on 16 Great Turkish Empires of the past. Worth noting as a backdrop to those receptions, Erdogan built a lavish 1,150-room presidential palace at the cost of well over a half-billion dollars. It’s the largest presidential palace in the world.

While Erdogan has made many comments that imply his desire to return to the Ottoman caliphate, he remembers his lessons of the past and hasn’t said so publicly. That said, some of his close associates and other regime loyalists have done so, and there’s no doubt of his intentions nor of his actions.

The regime has openly supported the Muslim Brotherhood for nearly a decade and has been a sanctuary for their exiled leadership and is now their largest benefactor. Erdogan has also aligned himself with Islamic extremists in Iran, Libya, and Syria, as well as the terror group al-Qaeda. The regime is able to use the Muslim Brotherhood as leverage against Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other countries in the Middle East. His support for them in Syria is designed to give him direct control of the regions they occupy.

Perhaps most importantly, Erdogan is absorbing Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure in Europe and the United States, which allow him to control and influence the flow of information.

The Turkish International Defense and Consulting Company (SADAT) is headed by Adnan Tanriverdi, who is a former Turkish military officer and remains a senior military adviser to Erdogan. SADAT’s stated goal is to create an Islamic army in the Middle East, so that the Islamic world can take its rightful place as a world superpower. This can mean only one thing: the reconquest of Europe and beyond.

There are several Turkish-backed and controlled organizations that effectively represent Erdogan’s policies and goals in Europe, such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), and Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria (ATIB), and the Grey Wolves affiliates.

In a similar fashion, Erdogan uses other types of groups, such as Osmanlı Ocakları (Ottoman Hearths), Kurdish Hezbollah, and even mafia-style crime boss Sedat Peker and the Grey Wolves. German and Austrian authorities have widely reported that DITIB, UETD, and ATIB are actively involved in espionage activities in support of Turkish intelligence.

Erdogan’s efforts aren’t limited to Europe or the Middle East. The Youth and Education Service Foundation (TÜRGEV) and Ensar Foundation together established the Turken Foundation in New York in 2014.

Erdogan is far more advanced in reestablishing the Ottoman Empire with himself as caliph then anyone in the West is willing to admit. He’s a budding new Hitler, our implacable foe, and an enemy to the free world. He will have to be stopped sooner or later, one way or another. We have to set aside politics and deal with the reality that faces us. Removing Turkey from NATO and containing its expansionist efforts would be a good start, but only the beginning.

Brad Johnson is a retired CIA senior operations officer and a former chief of station. He is president of Americans for Intelligence Reform.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.