The “remarkable successes” achieved by Turkey during the first years of the “Justice and Development” rule turned out to be just myths that are expected to turn into hurricanes at the beginning of the new year.
When the West marketed the Justice and Development Party as an “Islamic party that democratically took power in a secular Muslim country” in the countries and peoples of the Arab region, it, also, had to prove to them the impressive successes of its “experience” in economic development that made Turkey the focus of everyone’s attention.
The leader of this “Islamist” experiment, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, achieved wide popularity, not only in the region, but among all Muslims in the world, and together they praised these successes, which they wished to bring them back the memories of the Caliphate and the Ottoman Sultanate that ruled large areas of the world.
The policies of openness to the countries of the region under the slogan “zero problems with neighboring countries”, which Erdogan pursued in the first eight years of his rule (2003-2011), contributed to gaining more popularity for him, his party, and Turkey, and achieved great economic gains thanks to this openness and positive relations with everyone, this will have repercussions on Ankara’s international relations, particularly with Europe, America, and Russia.
And the ‘bloody spring’ (Arab Spring) came to reveal what was hidden in Erdogan’s calculations, who believed that the time was right to impose his experience on the countries of the region, especially after the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco, and partly in Yemen and Libya, so that neighboring Syria would be Erdogan’s main target in all his calculations, ideologically, nationally and strategically.
This was the beginning of the decline in the Erdogan project with its repercussions on the internal reality, especially after the failed coup attempt carried out by the followers of Fethullah Gulen (a former strategic ally of Erdogan) on July 15, 2016. Erdogan took advantage of this attempt, which, at the time, was said that “America, Israel, and the UAE stand behind it,” so he changed the political system from parliamentary to presidential, and took control of all state institutions, facilities, and apparatuses, the most important of which were the army, intelligence, security, judiciary, media, and even the central bank.
This was the beginning of revealing the mysteries and secrets of “the economic development”, which the Turkish opposition proved to be a lie after having had dire consequences for the economic and financial situation a year after Erdogan declared himself absolute ruler of the country, after the rigged referendum of April 2017, according to the words of Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition People’s Party.
Erdogan became president in June 2018, and appointed himself as chairman of the board of directors of the sovereign fund, and appointed his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, as minister of finance and treasury and his deputy on the board of directors of the fund, this would be the beginning of the economic and financial collapse. The opposition accused Erdogan of privatizing $70 billion of public sector institutions, including airports, ports, dams, factories, military industries, forests, and highways, without anyone knowing where these billions went. The opposition also proved the involvement of Erdogan and those around him in serious corruption cases worth tens of billions of dollars, during the construction of bridges, tunnels, and airports by foreign companies that implemented their projects in hard currencies, and obtained their guarantees in hard currencies for long years as well.
All of this caused severe damage to the Turkish treasury, estimated at hundreds of billions of Turkish liras, which no longer has any notional value in foreign transactions. The opposition also proved the disappearance of 128 billion dollars (some say 150 billion) from the reserves of the Central Bank, without there being any logical explanation from Erdogan about the fate of these sums, because the state has not executed any strategic projects. The opposition said that Erdogan has spent some of these billions on his foreign adventures, especially in Syria, Libya, and other regions in which Erdogan wanted to promote his ideological, political and historical ideas, “while he lives in a fantasy world,” a quote by opposition leader Kilicdaroglu.
As for the volume of external debts, which exceeded 460 billion dollars, with larger amounts of internal debts, they, in turn, proved the collapse of development slogans that finally collided with the lira crisis that Turkey has been suffering since the past three months after it suffered from similar crises last year, and in 2018, albeit with less powerful tremors.
The value of the lira depreciated within only one month by thirty percent (60% since the beginning of the year, and it may reach 65% before the end of the year) and this was reflected in the prices, which increased by between 50 and 100%, which thwarted the government’s efforts to control inflation, which statistics indicate that it will not be less than 60%, to bring President Erdogan and his economic miracles to the end of the dark tunnel, and there is no escape from it for many reasons.
Experts, led by the former Minister of Economy and the current leader of the Democratic and Progress Party, Ali Babacan, all blamed President Erdogan for this economic and financial disaster, with its repercussions on Turkish society, which is experiencing its most difficult and darkest days. Babacan, who was one of the builders of “the development”, considered Erdogan’s foreign and domestic policies the main reasons for all that Turkey suffers from, accusing him of ignoring the simplest laws and rules of the economy and money. Babacan says that Erdogan is acting unilaterally, far from any legal and constitutional oversight or accountability, which has made Turkey lose the confidence of foreign capital after Erdogan took control of the judiciary and eliminated the independence of the central bank.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and former Prime Minister and Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoglu supported Babacan’s words, and together they refuted the statements issued by the State Institute of Statistics regarding development rates, which were always according to the mood of Erdogan and his media and all those who were and still are admired about “the brilliant successes” Turkey achieved during the first years of the “Justice and Development” rule, finally, it turned out that they are just myths that did not withstand the bitter winds of truth that some expect to turn with the beginnings of the new year into storms and hurricanes, and no one knows how Erdogan will deal with them before they are accompanied by earthquakes that destroy all his “successes” before the so-called “Arab Spring,” when his experience, at the time, was a successful model that many praised, and some of them are now setting an example of its abject failure.
Others, at home and abroad, remain in their sentimental opinion of Erdogan’s miracles, either for self-interest or an ideological consensus that will not benefit any of them, as long as the truth has become completely exposed. The last three months of 2021 demonstrated the fragility of the Turkish economy and the “developmental miracles” that it has achieved, which “Islamists” have emotionally drummed and trumpeted about, as they are now emotionally defending them, they say that “Turkey’s economy is strong and its development is great, and it is exposed to a global war waged by imperialist, colonial, Zionist and Arab hostile countries and powers,” ignoring that Erdogan is courting all of these (countries and powers) in order to help him save Turkey, which will be very difficult by all standards and measures because Erdogan is absolutely indifferent to them, otherwise he would not have emphasized more than once his commitment to “religious texts” during his handling of the current crisis because “what matters to him is staying in power no matter what it costs him,” his former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says.
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