We expected the fall of Syria's president but it seems the storm will topple Turkey's premier who is up to his ears in trouble. Reccep Tayyip Erdogan has recently been verbally attacking everyone, even his allies. Recently, he threatened Islamic preacher Fethullah Gullen, saying the government "will reach your caves and tear you into pieces."
Yesterday, the police stormed the houses of Erdogan's ministers, tarnishing his government's reputation after they found bags full of Iranian funds. The scandal marks the biggest case of corruption in Turkey's modern history. The upcoming trials will undoubtedly damage the reputation of the man who was once seen as invincible.
Conspiracy or corruption?
Instead of responding to the accusations, Erdogan says there's a foreign conspiracy against him. Who's the conspirator? Is it his major ally and political partner, Gullen, who currently resides in the U.S.? Or does he mean Syrian president Bashar al-Assad? Or Egyptian defense minister Abdelfattah al-Sisi? Or Israel's prime minister? The Americans? Europeans? Gulf? Greeks? Who's the conspirator internally? Perhaps the Alawites or the Naqshbandi? Erdogan has so many rivals!
His month long verbal campaign has even angered the preacher who supported the premier for years. The preacher considered Erdogan's statements insulting and said they "degraded the movement's members.” He continued that, “it's clear that [Erdogan] is referring to us as monkeys, gorillas, bears and hyenas." Gullen then requested his followers, which include millions of Turks, not to respond to Erdogan's "vulgar" statements!
A walking contradiction
The upcoming trials will undoubtedly damage the reputation of the man who was once seen as invincible.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
When Erdogan claims the corruption accusations mark a conspiracy against him, he may be right. But isn't he the only one to blame for the number of rivals he has accumulated, mostly for trivial reasons? The irony is that when Erdogan assigned Ahmet Davutoglu as minister of foreign affairs, he said he did so because he admired Davutoglu's book "Strategic Depth: Turkey and its position in the international political arena." Davutoglu's theory states that problems between Turkey and its neighboring countries should be resolved.
Today, Turkey is in a dispute with almost all of its neighbors and former allies because of the premier's disposition and preoccupation with these never-ending battles.
Erdogan is a totally contradictory character. He's the one who supported Libyan colonel Moammar Qaddafi during his last days and condemned the NATO's intervention in Libya. Later, he demanded intervention in Syria and called for boycotting the regime there! At the same time, he violated the international siege against Iran's regime and traded with Tehran, which supports Bashar al-Assad's regime!
He has yet to settle, only exacerbate, tensions with Egypt after making hostile political statements against the new government and even received the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. He turned Turkey into a headquarters for the opposition and granted the brotherhood a governmental TV station.
Now, he gets angry as to why they are conspiring against him - that is if his claim there's a conspiracy is actually true. He is the one who opened fire on his rivals and allies alike, and it's only normal that others will respond by firing back.
When he described Gullen's group as people of the caves and threatened to tear them into pieces, the people of the caves and their supporters took action. The result of which might have caused the police and the judiciary affiliated with Gullen's massive following to search the house of government officials.
As the proverb says, people who live in houses of glass should not throw stones at others.
We all understand that Erdogan is a fierce fighter and an unusual character but excessive confidence and picking fights with everyone has led him to this unfortunate situation.
This article first appeared in the London-based Asharq Al Awsat on Dec. 26, 2013
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.