Rohrabacher Panel Probes Growing Power of Turkey’s Erdogan
WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, Wednesday conducted a hearing to look into the ominous consolidation of power by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Some of his policies at home and abroad raise alarm bells,” said Rohrabacher, “and there are disturbing reports of abuse of power.”
The California Republican, who since the Cold War era has traveled numerous times to the NATO-allied country, noted that in last June’s elections, after more than a decade in power, Erdogan’s ruling AKP lost its parliamentary majority. “Yet, following that election,” he said, “no party was able to build a coalition and form a government.” In November a second round of voting once again yielded a majority to the AKP, which maintains ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood.
Throughout Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic administration, in which the onetime prime minister has attempted to create a powerful “Turkish-style presidential system,” the government has cracked down on journalists and even declared opposition leader Fethullah Gulen an enemy of the state, criminalizing his “Gulenist” followers. Gulen, a moderate Islamic scholar who advocates interfaith dialogue and multi-party democracy, was once among Erdogan’s closest allies.
Meanwhile, Erdogan has, by many accounts, tried to suppress the restive minority Kurds, who provided much of the June vote against the AKP.
“Recent actions against the Kurds,” said Rohrabacher, “appear to indicate a violent strategy based on military action.”
Against a backdrop of turmoil in neighboring Syria with millions of civilians displaced, Rohrabacher said that “no one needs a reminder about the vital place Turkey holds on the world stage. Any lasting solution in that part of the world must involve Turkey.”
Contact: Ken Grubbs, 202.225.0145
February 3, 2016