It didn't take long for Erdogan, who two weeks ago was re-elected as Turkish president with a majority of the vote and the critical extra benefit of undisputed executive powers, to flew his newly-found muscles, and on Sunday Turkey provided a glimpse of what to expect under Erdogan's "new" regime, when it issued a decree dismissing more than 18,000 civil servants, half of which were from the police force, ahead of the expected lifting of a two-year-old state of emergency later this month, first imposed after an attempted coup in July 2016. The announcement comes one day before Erdogan swears his presidential oath on Monday, inaugurating his powerful executive presidency.
According to the decree 18,632 people, including nearly 9,000 police officers, 6,000 members of the military, 199 academics from universities across the country as well as hundreds of ordinary teachers were sacked. Their passports will be cancelled, according to the decree published in the Official Gazette early on Sunday.
Turkish authorities had already dismissed around 160,000 government workers since the failed military intervention, of whom more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials.
Turkey has been under a state of emergency for the past two years, declared after a "failed coup attempt" in July 2016. Erdogan has blamed the 77-year-old cleric Fethullah Gulen who lived in rural Pennsylvania for somehow orchestrating the coup and has sacked or arrested tends of thousands of people he claims are part of Gulen's "shadow government", and intent on taking down Erdogan.
The purge has since broadened to include other “terrorism groups”, with Turkey claiming the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, accusing Erdogan of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent.
And yet, despite lots of harsh words and condemnations, there has been no actual crackdown against the quasi-despot for one simple reason: Turkey remains a critical buffer nation preventing millions of Syrian refugees from entering Europe. In fact, Europe has paid Turkey billions - money which was promptly embezzled by the ruling regime, making it even stronger - to make sure refugees never leave its borders. In fact, in light of recent developments in Germany, where Merkel's catastrophic "open door" policy from 2015 almost cost her her political career, one could say that Erdogan is Europe's "
kingqueenmaker", and perhaps the continent's most important politician, as he is all that stands between a new flood of millions of refugees, and surging populist, anti-immigrant powers that are currently sweeping across much of eastern and central Europe.