Speaking from the depths of the 1,150-room palace he inhabits, Recep Tayyip Erdogan soothed a Turkish TV interviewer that he had no intentions of becoming an Ottoman-style sultan. "I want to be like Queen Elizabeth," he said.
That was in 2015. Now, following a referendum fraught with national, religious, regional, and global implications, his wish has been more than fulfilled - providing the Queen Elizabeth he was referring to was the 16th century Tudor monarch Elizabeth I...
This Update deals with analysis of what happens now with Turkey - both domestically and in terms of its foreign relations - in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on Friday. (A good general summary and backgrounder on the coup and its aftermath comes from American scholar Michael Rubin.)
Claiming victory for his Justice and Development party (AKP) in last week's historic national election, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was defiant. "This election has shown that the backbone of Turkey is the AKP," he told supporters at party headquarters in Ankara. "The AKP is the only party that is in all of the regions, all provinces, and embraces all of the citizens." An analyst with Al Jazeera television, a sometimes boosterish outlet for the AKP's Islamist agenda, offered a rougher assessment: "It was an image of confidence on a very bad night."
While many in the international media have recently "coronated" Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as "King" of Israel following his formation of a national unity government, surely the use of the term, with its non-democratic connotations, would be more apropos when referring to Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.
Erdogan truly has been consolidating his power in non-democratic ways, silencing his critics, and taking steps that are moving his country further and further away from democracy.
A news story which received little coverage in Australian media surrounds the tragic news that Turkey committed a massacre that killed 35 civilians in an air strike into Iraq near a Kurdish village along the Turkish border on 28 December 2011.
Turkey has admitted that the attack was an error. Turkey claimed that it intended to target suspected Kurdish militants, but that the victims turned out to be civilians not terrorists. The victims of the attack are believed to have been villagers involved in smuggling cigarettes into Turkey from Iraq.
The attack was one of the deadliest attacks since the PKK took up arms in 1984 in a conflict in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.