Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Man Trump Can Look Up to

Criticize Recep Tayyip Erdogan all you want.  But he has scored a major accomplishment now that, as Vox's David Stevens explains

The referendum, if fully implemented, would change Turkey from a parliamentary democracy into one run by a strong executive president who will absorb all the current functions of the prime minister. The new president will be free from accountability to the country's parliament, will wield broad budgetary powers, and will have complete autonomy to shape the executive branch as he sees fit.

In the new system, Erdoğan will also be poised to exercise significant control over the judiciary — undermining the separation of powers and leaving an incredible concentration of unregulated authority in the president’s hands.

By now you know the rest.  On Tuesday morning Vox's Yochi Dreazen informed us "Western democracies were deeply concerned" and while "European leaders stayed mostly silent (and) international monitors condemned the vote as unfair"

there was President Donald Trump, who called Erdoğan to congratulate him on the win.

Trump’s affinity for strongmen the world over is nothing new, from his repeated praise for Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail to the White House invitation he issued to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (whose personal war on drugs has left more than 7,000 dead) to the Oval Office meeting he held last month with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (who took power in a coup and killed more than 800 protesters in a single day).

Still, there are a pair of striking and profoundly disturbing things about Trump’s Monday call with Erdoğan, who has rebuffed US calls to fight ISIS more aggressively, likened the German government to Nazis, jailed more journalists than any other leader in the world, and arrested tens of thousands of his own people on suspect charges.

Following an unsuccessful coup last July (video below), Erdogan had arrested nearly 50,000 people including, the BBC recalls, "many soldiers, journalists, lawyers, police officers, academics and Kurdish politicians."


 But after the referendum and the attaboy from the president of the world's most populous nation

Dozens of members of Turkey’s political opposition were arrested in dawn raids on Wednesday, as a crackdown began on those questioning the legitimacy of a referendum on Sunday to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Erdogan has claimed a narrow 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent victory in the vote, but protesters in pockets of the country have marched in the streets every night since then to demonstrate against what they assert was a rigged election.

After warnings from Mr. Erdogan, at least 38 people accused of participating in the protests were rounded up Wednesday morning or issued arrest warrants, according to lawyers and relatives of the detained.

Though tens of thousands of people have been detained for political reasons in Turkey in recent months, these are the first political arrests reported since the referendum.

“These people are mainly those who attended the protests after the referendum and raised their voice against the referendum result on social media,” said Deniz Demirdogen, a lawyer for one of the detainees, Mesut Gecgel.

“The police told the detainees that they were accused of trying to agitate people against the ‘yes’ vote,” Mr. Demirdogen said by telephone from the police station in Istanbul where his client had been taken.

"No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days," the President contended Tuesday, in what was one of what should be a Trump patent on bogus claims.  Arguably, he may add to his list of accomplishments, few in number and harmful in effect, one more success:  the consolidation of power in a strategically crucial nation of a dictator bent on eliminating all traces of a liberal democracy.  Accruing to himself one more role model  Finding one more role model is truly something to be proud of.

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