Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is clinging to power after the resignation of three top cabinet officials following a police investigation into wide-spread corruption throughout the Turkish government.
Prosecutors are currently investigating members of the Prime Minister’s inner-circle, including those sitting in the upper echelons of his ruling Justice and Development Party.
This most recent scandal to shake Ankara involves the illicit transfer of money from Turkish government officials to Tehran for future infrastructure projects, which at the time of their transfer, violated both UN and EU sanctions placed on Iran in 2012.
After reshuffling his government in an attempt to silence calls for his resignation, Erdogan made a defiant speech to thousands of pro-government supporters at Istanbul Airport on Friday night, declaring that both the allegations against him and the mass demonstrations that followed, were a part of a ‘foreign plot’ to overthrow his government.
While the Prime Minister stopped short of specifically naming which ‘foreign’ entities were responsible for the recent instability, he has frequently accused Israel and the West of stirring up conflict in the region.
Last June during the “#OccupyGezi” protests that engulfed the country, which led to a brutal crackdown on protesters by security forces, Erdogan pointed the finger at Israel by suggesting that they were behind an opposition push to oust his government.
“Those against whom we said ‘one minute’ are now delighted,” Erdogan said to Turkish media as hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through Turkey late last June.
“One minute” is a reference to a verbal spat that occurred between Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Davos Economic Summit in 2009, when after being cut off from his anti-Israel rant by the conference moderator, he responded “One minute! One Minute! One Minute! Don’t interrupt me. You are not allowing me to speak.”
As demonstrations move throughout the country this weekend, the Turkish economy has already witnessed a downward slide with the Turkish Lira (currency) hitting a 17 month low against the American dollar.
Foreign investors dumped Turkey’s debt on concerns of growing economic and political instability throughout the country, citing the current unpredictability of Turkey’s current political atmosphere as being a major roadblock to further investment.
History has shown that political and financial instability in Turkey is usually followed by military coup. The Turkish military has traditionally considered itself to be the protectors of civil liberty and secularism within the country.
In a message posted on its official website earlier today, the Turkish military stated that it was following the situation unfolding throughout Turkey but that they were not interested in becoming involved in the political process: “The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) does not want to be involved in political debates. On the other hand, the TSK will keep on closely following the developments regarding its corporate identity and the legal positions of its members.”
Whether the Turkish military moves to restore stability throughout the country or not remains to be seen, but it’s only a matter of time before members of the European Union weigh in on Turkey’s current situation.
Maybe Brussels will finally give Erdogan and his unprincipled government a clear choice: end the systemic corruption, tyranny and brutal violation of basic freedoms, or end EU membership aspirations once and for all.
This may just be the final push needed to send the embattled Prime Minister packing.