Okeechobee Waterway will have to wait. I am drawn into Turkey’s current tragedy. Ironically I had just written about Turkey in my blog of Feb 28 with quotes from my book, Voice of a Voyage: Rediscovering the World During a Ten-year Circumnavigation, that are ominously prescient of today’s situation. I repeat a small segment of that: “Along the coast, so dependent on a tourist economy for their well-being, there was a growling antagonism, but never in strident voices. This was not cultural. Turks have never been afraid to express their opinions loudly and clearly. As I conversed with a few young men, from whom I had bought some tapestries, I sensed a mist of fear couched in their political complaints. They looked over their shoulders in case someone was listening and they spoke quietly.”
A classic gulet, now used for tourists.
Turkey has been a relatively successful secular democratic country making strides, but now, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president, is acting like a classic fascist. And no one in the West addresses it. Erdogan attacked Kurdish troops, under the cover of attacking ISIS. He has silenced opposition, and now he has taken over the main, formerly independent, newspaper in Turkey, Zaman, the largest circulation daily, and violently. No sidling up to the editor to suggest a more positive view of his presidency. Tear gas, water canons, firing of staff, and two days later the paper is spewing his line.
The West, mainly the EU, needs Turkey as a bulwark against the flood of refugees. Leaders from Putin to Merkle to Obama to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and everyone in between must know the only way to stem the tide of refugees is to establish stability in the area. How long will Turkey stay in the yellow or has it already been downgraded? It needs stability not based on authoritarianism, fascism, and the silencing of one’s critics, but on representation of all groups. Turkey needs to learn that one in reference to the Kurds. In the meantime, Turkey is lunging into darkness, and Erdogan is responsible.