As a Turkish-descent man with a home country rife with socio-economic and political troubles, I was hooked on screens as I watched the US Presidential Election 2020. I always wondered about who might be the winner of the election and tried to guesstimate the outcome of the US election and its possible effects on Turkey and Erdogan.
I was surprised by Biden’s victory the same as millions worldwide. While most of the world leaders cheerfully celebrated his win, a well-wisher for the US quipped, “America is back”. I will not thoroughly focus on the discussions that go around US politics but how the election may affect the global rise of the right-wing and ultra-nationalist policies, especially in the context of its possible effects on an anti-democratic regimes like that of Turkey.
The advance of the right-wing parties in almost every country including those in the West was considered an ordinary sociological phenomenon but their growth through the support from different segments of respective societies worldwide caused great fear in most democrats and liberals. When Trump was elected in 2016, he was symbolized and elevated as a hardcore nationalist soon to be emulated by most despotic leaders worldwide. They considered Trump, as the four-year leader-elect of the Free World, also as an example to justify their tyranny against all people who think and appear different.
Brazil and India cast votes to carry core nationalist leaders to power with the expectations of economic growth, welfare, and solutions to their rooted problems; yet it all backfired as these leaders’ policies have caused more problems and restrictions rather than solutions. Turkey, having gone awry as the world looked on, has been another example of such countries that suffered the backlash of ultranationalist and chauvinistic policies of the Erdogan regime.
Shooting the first flare of the impending oppression in the summer of 2013, Turkey has been wreaked in chaos from many aspects because of the anti-democratic practices of the Erdogan regime and the institutional rot under his leadership. Squandering years of effort to align herself with democracy and freedom, Turkey turned her face more to the likes of Russia, India, Venezuela, and China and felt herself encouraged for more despotic practices due to the laid-back attitude shown by some officials of the Trump administration.
Despite Erdogan betrayed the years-long Turkey-US relationships many times by getting closer to Russia, Trump surprisingly appraised Erdogan, just as he did for many despotic leaders worldwide, by saying, “Erdogan and I are a good friend”. Now that the Biden administration is set to start its four-year tenure, the Erdogan regime shows the signs it will tread more carefully as things for sure will not be the same.
Almost a year back, Biden had openly stated “there should be a regime change in means of democratic ways in Turkey” which led Erdogan to rant about it in public rallies by saying, “I behaved friendly with him and we even had a cup of tea together”. Yet he could not officially criticize Biden about his harsh comments and preferred to remain silent. The Erdogan regime knew one thing for sure: Their frolicking in the park would not be as enjoyable once Biden got elected. That’s why Erdogan swallowed Biden’s comments and kept his silence until the result of the US elections. It seems he did the right thing by not criticizing the 46th President of the United States. Erdogan must now be patting himself on the shoulder.
The ‘sneeze’ in the US made someone ‘catch cold’ in Turkey. To everyone’s surprise, a day after Biden’s proclamation of election victory, Berat Albayrak, Turkish Economy Minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law, resigned by posting a comment on his Instagram account. The way he resigned and the considerable silence of the Erdogan regime let the critics link this resignation with the US election and its outcomes. However, it may not be the only reason.
Turkish economy has been sputtering and flying low since 2013. USD exchange rate and inflation have set new records every day in 2020. It is now widely spoken in the public that unless Erdogan and his associates leave the government, the economy will be worsened with each passing day.
Turkish economy has scraped the rock bottom against the US dollar during Minister Albayrak’s term. While the signs were not so apparent, he played to the gallery by ignoring the badly managed economy and kept on showcasing that ‘Turkey was living its golden era!’. When he could no longer hide his hands on the wheel, Albayrak accepted his role in the bad economic direction and resigned without saying a proper bye-bye to Erdogan. Most economists and opposition party leaders have termed this move not as a mere resignation, but an evidence of the bankruptcy of the Turkish economy under the leadership of Erdogan.
With Biden’s election, Erdogan and his family are set to feel the stress more, as they will not be able to play with the US and its interests the same as they happily did during Trump’s term. The ‘new USA’ will most likely remind Erdogan of all his dirty linen including but not limited to the HalkBank case, S-400 missiles, alignment with Russia and China, flouting NATO’s apprehensions, sheer disregard of human rights, harboring of Muslim Brothers and its gun-toting fractions, and other issues related to security concerns caused by the Erdogan regime. As stated earlier, these reminders may not only be contained in diplomacy, but also to economic and social sanctions to Erdogan’s Turkey. This would, of course, weaken him and the ailing Turkish economy more, yet no one could say it may also bring the end of his autocracy.
We will wait and see whether the new administration change in the US will have any positive effect on Turkey in the near future and the Middle East.