Could the Earthquake’s Aftermath have an Impact on Turkey’s Presidential Election?

Any catastrophic event has an undeniable impact on a country’s and region’s economic and social situation. It is obvious therefore that the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey will have ramifications in a country, which was preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in May.

According to Turkish experts, Turkey will require at least $4 billion to repair the damage, which will be a significant financial burden for the country, which is already experiencing a severe economic crisis with annual inflation rates exceeding 57%. Turkey’s economy has been in disarray for several years, with high inflation, budget and current account deficits, and a lira depreciation. Turkey expected a significant economic recovery in 2023, and some experts even predicted a higher growth rate of Turkish GDP, which is now becoming unrealistic…

Yes, unlike neighboring Syria, which has also been severely impacted by this natural disaster, Turkey can expect significant assistance from the West and international financial institutions. However, this assistance would not cover all of Ankara’s financial losses. And the Turkish authorities cannot rule out the arrival of not only Russia, but also China, which would necessitate a shift in Ankara’s political course. That, of course, would not be tolerated in the United States or NATO, where quite critical remarks about the Turkish president have recently been made for his Russian sympathies. There have even been overt attempts by Washington to change the country’s leadership and prevent the re-election of “Erdoğan, who seeks independence from the US.”

As a result, the coming days should already show an escalation of the political struggle in Turkey and around it, which Erdoğan’s opponents can exploit.

At the very least, it is clear that Turkey’s “six-headed opposition dragon” will seek to implement its election program, with one of the points indicating actions against Russia: an audit of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in search of some “rights and obligations outside the agreement,” i.e. the promise of revision of the signed agreements. However, the possibility of new conditions arising in this case in which the construction of the nuclear power plant would be halted because it would be unfavorable to the Russian side is unlikely to be supported by the Turks themselves, because this project is aimed at Turkey’s energy security and is especially beneficial today for the country, which is in an even worse situation following the earthquake. In general, the Turkish opposition’s program gave observers the impression of ideological helplessness even before the recent disasters. The opposition ignored existing realities and was fragmented, which is why it never posed a serious threat to Erdoğan and his party before.

Concerning the possible activation of anti-Erdoğan forces in the West, they will undoubtedly carry out their plans, but their chances are dwindling by the day. And this is understandable, because in times of adversity in any country, people rally around the current government, not only supporting it, but also relying on it as the main effective protection from the calamity that has befallen them.

And Turkey’s problems are only getting worse. The number of victims grows with each official news report, citing nearly 20,000 dead and more than 80,000 injured. Cities, residential areas, and infrastructure have been destroyed in many areas. Against this backdrop, Turkey’s leader and government are demonstrating proper focus, utilizing not only internal forces and reserves to reduce losses from the impending disaster, but also exploring all opportunities from the recent years of good neighborly relations and the expansion of multi-vector foreign policy.

Thousands of people, particularly in the earthquake-affected eastern parts of the country, who previously showed no sympathy for Erdoğan, are now appreciating and thanking the Turkish leader for his efforts to deal with the disaster’s consequences, clearly adding to his camp of allies on the eve of the election. At the same time, the number of those sharing the critical stance towards Erdoğan by the US and its Western allies is objectively dwindling, while anti-American sentiments are increasing. The recent hysteria and criticism from the US and the West over the alleged inaction of the current Turkish authorities in the face of the country’s growing terrorism threat, as well as the demonstrative closure of some Western consulates in Istanbul, have undoubtedly contributed to this. In addition to the wave of Islamophobia that has been unleashed in the West in recent weeks with the burning of the Koran, the US Treasury’s deputy for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, has warned Turkey of the risk of sanctions for trade cooperation with Russia.

Against this backdrop, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu’s demand that the US Ambassador in Ankara “keep his dirty hands off the country” received widespread public support. According to Soylu, the US diplomat is attempting to “stir up” Turkey by gathering other ambassadors and advising them on how to conduct hostile actions and propaganda against the current Turkish government. As a result, it is not surprising that there is speculation in Turkey that “foreign” geophysical weapons may have been involved in the disaster that struck the country and several other states, especially given that the disaster occurred in areas with ethnic or military conflicts. It should be remembered that tectonic weapons were researched in the United States during the Cold War. For example, the infamous HAARP project developed a program of research on ionospheric scattering of high frequency radio waves and created a powerful transmitter. The latter was capable of launching high-powered ion beams into the ionosphere, which, when reflected from stratospheric layers, hit the right spot on Earth’s surface, causing it to overheat. Despite the difficulties in proving the involvement of the US military in these earthquakes, they appear more credible than US Secretary of State Powell’s shaking of an obscure test tube at the United Nations.

The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey must take place no later than June, according to Turkish law. They could be postponed due to the extremely difficult situation in Turkey following the earthquake, but only if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is able to reach an agreement with the opposition and amend the Turkish constitution accordingly. However, the country’s leadership remains of the opinion that it is not worth doing, and following the declaration of a three-month state of emergency in ten provinces of the country, elections could be held on May 14, as previously announced. And, despite the efforts of the West and the opposition controlled by it, the incumbent president of Turkey, together with the AKP, have every chance of winning them.

By Valery Kulikov
Source: New Eastern Outlook

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *