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An open letter to President Erdogan

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Thursday, 9 December 2021

Dear President Erdogan,

I send this open letter to you because it pains me to see a country like Turkey, which could have reached the pinnacle of power and influence, envied by her adversaries and revered by her friends, has fallen into disgrace, thanks to your corrupt and misguided leadership.

I admired you when you first rose to power, for the vision and the statesmanship you displayed. Within a few years, you had almost transformed the country as you introduced economic, social, judicial, and political reforms, all unprecedented in Turkey's history.


You became the beloved leader to your countrymen, lifted many of the poor from their misery, gave hope to the young, safety to the elderly, and self-esteem to the working class. Academia and higher learning flourished, businesses prospered, public institutions grew and progressed, and human rights were protected. Political divisiveness gave way to unity of purpose, minorities felt safe and secure, and Turkey's prospect of becoming a true democracy was all but assured.

Zero problem with neighbors was no longer a mere slogan. Your Western alliances were strengthened, trade with countries near and far exponentially expanded, and good relations with East and West became the success story of your foreign policy. The EU opened the door for Turkey ever wider, and the prospect of integration was no longer a dream but a goal within reach. Turkey's friendship with the United States was greatly solidified, and its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization made Ankara vital for the security of Europe. As a bridge between East and West, Turkey's location and geostrategic importance became ever more treasured, and under your incisive leadership, Turkey emerged as a rising star respected by the community of nations.

But then what happened?

Your hidden desire to acquire absolute power has finally come to light. You sought the presidency but with expanded powers, paving the way for a dictatorship to which the parliament under the control of the AKP has foolishly acquiesced, without grasping the far-reaching implications of their misguided action.

Granting you unlimited power has changed the trajectory of Turkey – not to greatness but to ever-growing depravity and decline. Blinded by the powers you have usurped, you decided that the time has come to execute your wicked agenda, making a U turn to the utter dismay of your people.

Many scholars and pundits have been speculating about your unfathomable change of direction. But there are two overarching explanations-your lust for ever more raw power and your Islamic zealotry that you are bent on promulgating and using as a tool in pursuit of your menacing plans. You believe that only one-man rule, provided it is you, can restore the dubious glory of the Ottoman era.


You raised the banner of Islam as the guiding rod, only to subjugate your people to your false piety. You have sacrificed the best of what Turkey has to offer on the altar of your perverse ego. Ruthlessness, brutality, cruelty, retribution, and arbitrary use of terrorism laws became your weapons of choice, wielding them with a vengeance against your perceived enemies with no mercy, no compassion, and no remorse, but with joy and pride.

You needed to concoct a cause to justify your rampage against every individual and institution that you deemed to stand in your way. The 2016 failed coup you contrived was heaven sent by your own account. You needed a scapegoat, and Fetullah Gülen was there to incur your wrath. You accuse him of being behind the botched coup, though you never produced any evidence to support your dishonest claim.

Look what you have done to your people: investigated countless law-abiding citizens, and incarcerated tens of thousands of innocent people and tortured them to force out confessions for crimes they never committed. You jailed women with their children, subjecting them to desolation and excruciating pain. You regularly assaulted your Kurdish minority, arrested their notables and intellectuals for alleged link to the PKK, and civil and political rights, once secure, have now become fair play.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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