The widespread of the Coronavirus pandemic, intractable economic problems due to the collapse of the Turkish lira and the escalation of internal dissent are all crises that have become visible in Turkey since the beginning of this year in particular, as political and economic analysts stated to MENA Research. They expect that the internal crisis might have reached a stage that surpasses the ability of the AKP Government to solve it through traditional reforms.
Commenting on the latest crises, Turkish doctors described the capital Ankara as a new Wuhan, due to the extent of the Corona spreading in the city. Moreover, the head of the infectious diseases department for children at the Faculty of Medicine at the Turkish Hacettepe University, Muhammad Cihan, confirmed that his country has lost control over the virus.
Given the political and economic crises, a full-fledged Iranian scenario
Amid the economic and political crises and the rise in the arrest rates of Turkish activists, Omar Aktay, expert in Turkish affairs, considers that Turkey is witnessing a model similar to the Iranian Islamic Revolution and the reproduction of the Revolutionary Guards in its Sunni version, but in stages. He states the high similarity between the current situations in Iran and Turkey from all sides, the most important of which are political and economic.
Moreover, the Turkish economy has been suffering from a series of persistent crises for years, including the loss of the Turkish lira about 155% of its value in less than four years, according to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Furthermore, the number of unemployed people reached about 4 million until the middle of this year, a rate of 13.2%. Besides, the number of poor increased to 20 million people, according to unofficial estimates.
In the same context, the economic expert, Lamia Ali, assures to MENA Research, that the graph of the Turkish economy suggests that the country is indeed moving towards a crisis similar to the Iranian, with a time gap between them. She explains, “the suffering of the Iranian economy is the outcome of policies that have been applied for more than 40 years, while in Turkey it is the outcome of nearly 10 years. Nevertheless, if the situation continues as it is, Turkey is most likely to face an economic crash during the next five years”.
Politically speaking, the situation in Turkey does not look better than what is happening in Iran, according to researcher Aktay. He stated to MENA Research that what Turkey has witnessed since 2014, specifically with the transition to the presidential system, practically represents a coup by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his fellow party members. Moreover, Erdogan has linked the party control to himself, which plunged the country into a conflict of allies, resulted in the dissent of the former Prime Minister Davutoglu and his Finance Minister Ali Babacan.
Nonetheless, during the past months, Turkey has witnessed the announcement of Davutoglu and Babacan to form their own parties and join the Turkish opposition camp, besides their intention to run in the next elections, challenging their former party.
Aktay also believes that it is not an exaggeration to say that the political situation in Turkey may be worse than in Iran to a certain degree. The Iranian regime has not witnessed any conflicts at the head of state, which is represented by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution. Moreover, the race into power in Iran did not witness any significant cleavages among the pillars of the regime, as is the case in Turkey today.
Hostility, sanctions, and parallel security services
Aktay sees the analogy between the two regimes in Turkey and Iran in several respects. The first of which is the hostile foreign policy towards neighboring countries and the West, which has slumped Turkey into a cycle of economic sanctions. He also believes that both regimes resorted to external crises to cover up internal ones.
Moreover, Turkey has been experiencing a series of political crises for months, the last of which was the struggle over gas fields with Greece. It has also faced the issue of its involvement in the ongoing fighting in Libya, military operations in Syria and Iraq, the refugee crisis with the European Union, the Russian S-400 missile crisis, which sparked tensions between Ankara and Washington. Besides, adopting an aggressive policy towards the Gulf States and Egypt through its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, the other aspect of the similarity of the two policies, according to Aktay, is related to the strategy of suppressing freedoms, arresting political opponents and imposing de facto practices in the name of Turkish nationalism and in the name of Islam. Aktay says that both governments have relied on establishing their security, trade union, and political institutions parallel to the state apparatus.
In addition to that, during the past weeks, the Turkish government approved the Vigilante Registration Act. It also granted them extensive powers, which prompted the opposition to accuse the government of trying to reproduce the idea of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian Basij in Turkey.
Furthermore, in the past few days, the Turkish government had faced harsh criticism from the international community due to the death of lawyer Ebru Temtech in prison, after a hunger strike for 238 days. Nevertheless, human rights organizations have described Turkey as one of the most dangerous places for journalists and human rights activists.
The Coronavirus Pandemic is an extra wrench
The outbreak of the Coronavirus, as reported by Turkish medical sources, increases the anguish of the Turkish people, according to the political researcher Polat Bakirli, “A new tragedy, that reveals the comparability between the Turkish government with both the Iranian and Syrian regimes in terms of their outlook to their people, their health, and interests. All the three governments denied the reality at the expense of their people.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced weeks ago that Turkey should “keep its wheels turning” in the economy, and people continue going to work. He pointed out that a full lockdown would halt economic activities, which should keep going under all conditions and circumstances.
However, commenting on the previous statements of Erdogan, the economic analyst, Lamia Ali, says that they indeed reflect the reality. “The Turkish economy does not tolerate halt production or suspending work, because taking such a step for a week is sufficient for the collapse of the rest of the economy. The country has been exhausted by corruption, nepotism, and selectivity in projects that serve and save only some institutions, besides the US sanctions and the threat of possible EU sanctions. All of this made the Turkish economy lose its resistance against any emergency and reduced its ability to absorb any exceptional measures.
Moreover, the Turkish opposition had called on President Erdogan to dismiss his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, from the position of Finance Minister, accusing him of corruption and responsibility for the collapse of the lira. Turkish opposition member Omer Fathi Gur says that the practices of the presidential system increased the poor in the country.