Is Turkish leader crazy, or crazy like a fox?
Confronted by a series of revelations involving corruption, Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan countered by banning Twitter by court order last Friday. He has now moved onto other social media networks — blocking YouTube on Thursday.
Though another court ordered Erdogan’s Twitter ban to be lifted this week, his repressive regime looks intent on lashing out at social media as part of a broad policy aimed at controlling the important municipal elections on Sunday.
This is all part of Erdogan’s calculated effort, as Amnesty International describes, to “silence and smear those speaking out against the government’s crackdown on the protest movement, including doctors, lawyers and journalists.” This crackdown has, not surprisingly, resulted not only in massive protests within Turkey, but exasperation from Turkey’s allies in the West.
“It doesn’t fit with our idea of freedom of expression,” huffed a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In the face of this opposition, we could be asking if the prime minister’s actions are rational. Erdogan, however, did not become the most powerful Turkish political leader in more than 60 years by being either stupid or crazy. In Turkey, picking a fight with the West is smart politics.