The Palace Party! #TurkeysNewJourney
Forget the bitter irony that the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power on a promise to end the generals’ role in politics, became the first civilian government in Turkish political history to appoint an active military chief as a cabinet minister.
From the beginning, the AKP was not against the generals’ role in politics: it was against anti-Islamist generals’ role in politics.
July 9th was a merry day in Ankara – although obscured by an unfortunate train crash in Thrace. Palace celebrations for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s oath ceremony were thus downgraded from fireworks to a party of foreign dignitaries, remotely resembling a teenager’s birthday party at a local café attended by his best friends from the school and the neighbourhood.
Mr Erdoğan’s guest list must have caused shy smiles at major foreign capitals. But it presented a perfectly realistic political picture: tell me who your best friends are…
Going back to the birthday party analogy, the palace party in Ankara brought together some of the less wanted and more mischievous kids from the school and the neighbourhood: heads of state from Qatar, Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Pakistan, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea, Zambia, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Somali, Mauritania, Gabon, Chad and Djibouti.
There were two more guests who deserve special attention. One was Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, who hailed Mr Erdoğan as “leader of new multi-polar world.” As Mr Maduro was enjoying a nice banquet at his Turkish friend’s posh palace in Ankara the inflation rate in his country had hit 40,000 percent. The 35-member Organization of American States has issued a report accusing Mr Maduro’s Venezuela of crimes against humanity including torture, rape and more than 8,000 extrajudicial executions.
But Mr Maduro was not the only friend in Ankara charged with crimes against humanity. Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, was another guest of honour.
In 2009, Mr Erdoğan, then prime minister, accused China of committing genocide against the ethnic Turkic Uighurs in China after less than 100 of them lost their lives during clashes with Chinese security forces. In the same year Erdoğan said that he went to Darfur in Sudan and did not see genocide there. Only a few months earlier, Erdoğan’s Islamist friend Mr al-Bashir had become the first sitting president to be indicted by International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity that caused the death of 400,000 people in Darfur in 2005. “A Muslim would never commit genocide,” Erdoğan explained why the man with an arrest warrant for his crimes was innocent.
No doubt, Mr Erdoğan and his 22 very important guests must have had fun at the palace party in Ankara. Fun is nice. But they should consider setting up an alliance of the like-minded, a club to be chaired, on a rotating basis, by three great democracies Turkey, Venezuela and Sudan.