David Hirst, editor-in-chief of the British Middle East Eye website, argues that Western liberal thinkers have failed to recognize the power of Turkish democracy because it does not produce the results that satisfy them.
He said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's performance in the first round of the presidential election shocked the opposition to the point that it took 4 days for them to wake up.
Hirst pointed to the opposition's anti-Syrian refugee stance in Turkey, amounting to about 4 million, and its promise to them if it wins to deport them from the country and incite its followers to do so in their banners.
At a time when there is a great anti-Syrian sentiment in the country, and after the shock of the massive earthquake that devastated southern Turkey, the first task of any future president — let alone someone who boasts of his liberal credentials — is to soften the rhetoric, not escalate it.
The decision of opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to turn his candidacy as head of a multi-spectrum coalition into a party hostile to human rights has consequences for the opposition itself, including that he can no longer call himself a liberal with a democratic agenda to return power to parliament and human rights to the country.
Regarding the West's misunderstanding of Turkey's presidential election, Hirst stated that Turks themselves overwhelmingly believe in it, as the country saw the second highest voter turnout in the world, and the first round this month was no exception, at nearly 90%, compared to important elections in countries that describe Erdogan as autocrat.
He said the turnout dwarf those in Britain, the United States, France, Egypt and Tunisia before that.
Not acknowledging the power of democracy in Turkey because it presents the wrong outcome, while turning a blind eye to the spurious elections in Egypt and Tunisia that were boycotted by voters, has become something of Western liberal thinkers. This is one of the reasons why they misunderstand the Middle East time and time again, he said.
The Western view is increasingly becoming far from reality, and the West can no longer send armies and warships to correct this. US President Joe Biden's declared support for the Turkish opposition is not only meaningless, but may backfire. Another U.S. president may learn from this, but it may not be anytime soon.