Erdogan: from world leader to world comedian


As a Turkish columnist, one of the old supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, I would not have wanted to write what I am about the write in this piece for two reasons. First, I have been extensively criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his associates, government, etc., since 2011 with the expectation that they would see their wrongdoings and put the country back on the right track to help both Turkey and themselves. Second, no Turks who hold hopes and expectations for the future of Turkey would want to see a leader of Turkey who cannot distinguish between fact and fiction, turned into a leader of contradictions, confrontations, confusions and foolishness.

Unfortunately Erdogan has lost his chance of being a world leader and lifting Turkey to the league of first-class countries, but turned instead into a world comedian who entertains a global audience, those who closely observe what is going on in Turkey.

A few years ago Erdogan was one of the topics for newsrooms, but now he has become one of the topics for comedy programs. Many political comedians, without editing, simply repeat Erdogan’s statements as jokes.

A few years ago Erdogan was hailed as a model Muslim leader, who cared about democracy, rule of law and human rights. The global community could rely on his words, but now no leader takes him seriously anymore.

A few years ago he was compared with world leaders but now he is competing with political comedians, Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. Unlike Maher and Stewart, who entertain smart people with smart references, Erdogan entertains fools with foolishness, saying, for example, that the US was discovered by Muslims and that when Columbus discovered Cuba the first thing he saw was a mosque on a hilltop, Western countries are united and plotting against me, interest lobbies work against me, Gezi was a coup attempt, his old supporter Fethullah Gülen’s network established a parallel state within the state, something he failed to notice over the last 12 years but realized after his world-class corruption became public knowledge.

A few years ago Erdogan was seen as a humble leader who visited poor people, sat and talked with them and, more importantly, fought for them. However, today he is known for his ultra luxurious palaces, expensive jets, billions of dollars, and grants that he generated for the rich owners of construction companies who share a percent of their revenues with political figures.

A few years ago when Erdogan said “one minute” to Israel’s leader and challenged Israel’s bullying attitude in Palestine and the region, he was welcomed by the majority of the people in Turkey, the Muslim world and his tone of criticism even found sympathizers in the West. However, as years passed, it turned out that while he was protesting Israel’s unjust blockade of Gaza, his son’s ships were trading with Israel. It became public when he was criticizing Abdullah Ocalan in front of large nationalist crowds, he would send his deputies to beg Ocalan to stop the violence. It became public that when he was lecturing people about corruption and morality, he and his ministers were deeply involved in fraud.

When a leader loses his sincerity, when his words and actions do not match, he or she becomes the source of comedy. This is what has happened to Erdogan.

A few years ago Erdogan was largely ruling this country based on facts and reasonable analysis. Now he is twisting facts, manipulating public opinion, lying about facts and silencing media outlets to cover up his failures and lies. He is doing these things to maintain power, not to rule the country. Once a leader stops leading the country and starts finding ways to maintain his power, in that moment he or she becomes a source for comedians rather than newsrooms. This is what has happened to Erdogan. In order to maintain his power, he acts like a tough leader; however, all the things he does undermine his attempts to regain his title as a world leader and instead turn him into a political comedian who entertain fools with foolishness.