Turkey’s mania for conspiracy theories has reached a rather impressive new level. Bülent Gedikli, deputy chairman of the ruling AKP, has now claimed that there is a “Neocon-Ergenekon brotherhood” against the government which - like some international league of supervillains - also includes Angela Merkel, Kurdish terrorists, opposition leaders, the Israeli President, American writers, and the interest-rate lobby.
The breadth of his claims for this 21st-century SPECTRE, and his likening it to a football team, makes me wonder if the whole thing is rather tongue-in-cheek. For one thing, who would put the professorial CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu up front?
The full list of Gedikli’s ‘anti-AKP team’ is as follows, via Hürriyet:
“Jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan as the goalkeeper; German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in defense; Mehmet Haberal, Doğu Perinçek, Mustafa Balbay, Tuncay Özkan and Yalçın Küçük, all high-profile suspects in the probe into Ergenekon, the purported network that allegedly sought to plunge Turkey into chaos and pave the way for a military coup, in the midfield; and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Peace and Democracy (BDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş as forwards.”
Some of the inclusions are fairly straightforward, particularly Öcalan and the two opposition leaders, with which PM Erdoğan has sparred repeatedly in recent weeks. Sarkozy is practically persona non grata in Ankara right now after France’s Armenian genocide vote, whilst Merkel’s disapproval of Turkish EU membership has earned her few favours. US writer Paul Auster has been involved in a public row with Erdoğan over Turkey’s restrictions on press freedom: the prime minister has, with his customary statesmanship, hit back, saying “Oh! We were much in need of you! What if you come or not?”
This bizarre cabal is apparently backed by financial oligarchs, although the deputy chairman says that the AKP managed to overcome this “crisis lobby”. Nonetheless the conspiracy remains set on “civilian dictatorship” and toppling the government through creating fear and chaos.
Do Gedikli and the AKP actually believe this? If he is being sardonic, then this mocking, hysterical tone is hardly appropriate for the government of a major democracy. It smacks of Putinism, with its crude insults and personal attacks.
If the government does genuinely believe in this cabal then what does it say about the prevailing mindset? How can the AKP be taken seriously – at home and abroad – when it sees enemies everywhere, all plotting constantly to undermine it?