News / Middle East

Turkey's Erdogan May Use Egypt Turmoil to Justify Crackdown

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan calls for the U.N. Security Council to convene quickly and act after what he described as a massacre in Egypt, during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 15, 2013.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan calls for the U.N. Security Council to convene quickly and act after what he described as a massacre in Egypt, during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 15, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been at the forefront of condemnation of the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, which he has blamed on an international conspiracy. Erdogan has been touring his electoral strongholds and speaking at mass rallies. He warns that Turkey also could be the victim of such a plot. Observers say his stance could be a sign Ankara is preparing to take a firm stance against any future unrest.

"Today it is Egypt, tomorrow they may want to unsettle Turkey because they don't want a strong Turkey in this region," he said at a meeting in the city of Bursa earlier this month. "Don't forget everyone has a trap, but the grandest is God Almighty's trap," he added.

Erdogan's ruling AKP party has its roots in political Islam and close political ties with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Fears, assertions

Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, said the overthrow of the Egyptian president by his army had a strong impact on Erdogan.

"Given the history of the conflict in Turkey between the ruling party - the AKP - and the military, and the eventual successful domestication of the military's political influence, it's certainly very natural for Erdogan to adopt this line in Egypt, seeing a democratically elected government being ousted by the military," said Ulgen.

Erdogan repeatedly has claimed the overthrow of the Egyptian president was part of an international conspiracy against political Islam. The Turkish prime minister claims a similar conspiracy was behind weeks of protests sparked by his government's plans to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park.

Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf, said with Turkey facing crucial elections next year, playing the conspiracy card could be a shrewd move by Erdogan.

"He can keep his constituency, and make sure that there is no splits and divisions within his party, by [using] this siege mentality - [saying that] 'we are under siege, we have to remain solid at the moment.' And one way of doing that is twanging the chords that go down well with his Islamic grassroots supporters," said Idiz.

Anti-terror laws

Mass protests in the name of democracy preceded the military's ouster of Egypt's president. Given that, warns Soli Ozel, an international relations professor at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, Erdogan will view any repeat of anti-government protests in Turkey as a direct, anti-democratic threat to his rule, and likely will authorize a severe crackdown by security forces.

"Should there be a Gezi-type demonstration or wave of demonstrations in the country, the response is going to be pretty harsh, I think. And all that Egypt analogy is getting to serve as the legitimating narrative of it," said Ozel.

The Turkish government already has introduced regulations banning political slogans from being chanted at concerts or sporting events. The government also has warned that its severe anti-terror laws could be used against protestors. Despite such threats, analysts say that with students returning to schools and universities in September, fresh unrest could be in the offing.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More