Press TV has interviewed Daniel Patrick Welch, a political commentator in Boston, about Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) tapping Transport Minister Binali Yildirim as its sole candidate to be the party’s new chairman.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: If we were to take a look at the significance of this, it would be in line with the aspirations, I would think, of Erdogan to reach his dream and that is to have total control of Turkey through a presidency which is not supposed to obviously have that type of influence on.
Welch: Right, that is exactly what this is aimed at doing, I think with Davutoglu out and Yildirim coming in he has managed to install a close ally as chairman of the party and then automatically a prime minister and he says in his introduction speech that he wants to work very closely with the president and that is code for saying, I think, go along with the scheme of making it a presidential system rather than a parliamentary system and also to keep the internal pressure to lift the immunity of lawmakers so that they can legally attack opposition lawmakers, including those who insult Erdogan. So it is a home run for Erdogan, I think.
Press TV: What other steps do you think Erdogan is going to take to try to purge this system, as a whole, of any opposition that comes in his way? I mean we are looking at journalists, we are looking at many systems that he has pretty much touched on, of which he has pushed out anyone opposing him and what type of a blowback is that going to have from Turkish people themselves?
Welch: Well I assume it will have some blowback, that remains to be seen if people are angry enough about it but just there are something like 60 lawmakers who are on his list to be persecuted once this lifting of immunity goes through, 11 of whom are that same thing for about insulting the prime minister and the other 50 or so are something to do with having ties with [the] PKK.
So it is definitely a power grab and it is a pretty audacious one, it is kind of seen outside the country, I think in the alternative press, as a bit of a clown like he is derisively referred to as assaulting Erdogan and the significance is alarming also for geopolitical reasons because the more control that Erdogan takes in within Turkey, the more closely he can ally, being his region proxy for the US along with Saudi Arabia and of course Israel in maintaining imperial goals, which is to threaten and provoke Russia, continue to try to destabilize and overthrow the government in Syria, etc. so it is not a small thing.