Erdogan Withdraws From the West

from The Wall Street Journal,

Now the West needs to decide whether to maintain the fiction that Turkey is a reliable member of the club.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Turkey out of the West. The Islamist strongman has been telegraphing this since at least 2008. That was when he launched the great purge of the country’s secular establishment, and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) began showing signs that its faith in “Muslim democracy” is less than sincere. For nearly a decade, the West didn’t hear, or pretended not to. Now there’s no mistaking the message. Turkish authorities last week charged Deniz Yücel, a reporter with the German newspaper Die Welt, with “spreading propaganda of a terrorist organization and for inciting the public to hatred.” Mr. Yücel’s “crime” was interviewing a commander of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party and reporting on alleged email hacking of Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law. The trumped-up indictment is typical of the ugly and paranoid Turkey Mr. Erdogan has been building. Since an attempted coup in the summer, the government has detained thousands of Turks, fired tens of thousands from their jobs and shuttered more than 120 media outlets. Yet Ankara’s brazenness in the case of Mr. Yücel—a Turkish-German dual citizen—marks a milestone in Turkey’s departure from the Western family of nations. Once you start acting like Iran or China, there’s no easy way back. The Turks have so far denied German diplomats consular access to Mr. Yücel. Citing security and logistical headaches, at least two German cities have withdrawn permission for pro-AKP rallies intended to encourage diaspora Turks to vote ‘Yes’ in an upcoming referendum that would transform Turkey’s parliamentary system into a strong presidential one with Mr. Erdogan at the helm. Mr. Erdogan raged at Germany, his country’s biggest European ally. “Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past,” he said at a women’s rally in Istanbul on Sunday, according to the state-run Andalou news agency. “You will lecture us about democracy, and then you will not let this country’s ministers speak there.” Put another way: How dare Germans prevent me from using their democratic public square to close off Turkey’s? At a different rally the same day, Mr. Erdogan went further: “If I want to, I will come to Germany. If you don’t let me in, or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.” Municipal authorities in Gaggenau, one of the German cities that cancelled pro-AKP rallies, received a bomb threat Thursday. Angela Merkel has a lot of patience for Mr. Erdogan, but even the German chancellor is fed up. Mr. Erdogan’s casual Nazi accusations, she said, “really only lead to one thing: trivializing the incomparable crimes against humanity carried out under National Socialism. One cannot seriously comment on such misplaced statements.”

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