A real Putin’s Putin

There’s some intense stuff going on in Eastern Europe, in the Black Sea area especially. The leader of a supposed-constitutional republic has been getting out of hand for some time now–suppressing internal opposition, dealing harshly with dissenters, that sort of thing. Lately though, he’s not only started tightly controlling the media in his country, but he’s also behaving somewhat aggressively toward one of his neighbors, though he insists that his actions are completely justified. It could prove to be a real mess.

Time for NATO to get tough and back this guy off, right?

Well, not exactly. See, the country whose president I’m talking about is already in NATO. Oh, you thought I was talking about Russia’s Generalissimo President Francisco Franco Vladimir Putin? No, I’m talking about him:

Hey, who’s got two thumbs and is using both of them right now to block Twitter in his country? THIS GUY!

Yes, it’s Turkey’s Generalissimo Prime Minister Francisco Franco Tayyip Erdoğan. Tayyip has long been a fan of taking it to protesters, and as protests have heated up again in the last couple of months, people are dying as a result of the heavy-handed tactics being used by Turkish security forces. Over the last few days  Erdoğan has been trying to block Twitter inside Turkey. Why, you ask? Because there are three Twitter accounts that keep publicly documenting alleged corruption throughout Erdoğan’s government, including Erdoğan himself. Erdoğan and his allies blame everything on a vast conspiracy against Erdoğan himself, involving financiers and banks, the foreign media, and the CIA; now they’ve added “the Jewish diaspora,” because they apparently thought they were being too subtle with direction of the whole conspiracy thing.

Amazingly, it’s possible that Erdoğan, who has survived gassing, pepper spraying, beating, and now killing protesters in a country that claims to respect basic freedoms, may have finally jumped the shark by banning Twitter. Members of his own political party, including Turkish President Abdullah Gül (who also shot down Erdoğan’s “international conspiracy” garbage) and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, have expressed their disapproval of the move. It’s a pretty clear violation of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory. Worse, from Erdoğan’s perspective, is that it seems to strip away whatever tattered veil of democratic pretense he still had, after his mistreatment of the Gezi Park protesters made his fundamental illiberalism apparent.

Running plays straight out of the autocrat’s playbook, Erdoğan has now manufactured a military crisis in order to rally domestic support:

Turkey’s air force has shot down a Syrian aircraft for violating Turkish airspace, an action that Syria denounced as “unprecedented and unjustifiable”.

The incident happened on Sunday, with the plane crashing near the Syrian town of Kasab on the Turkish border after it was targeted by F-16s.

Luckily he’s created his military incident by going after a much bigger asshole in Assad, and it’s not as though this is the first time Turkey and Syria are clashing over airspace violations. Damascus claims the jet was in Syrian airspace, but why would anyone believe them over Istanbul? But it’s given Erdoğan an excellent rallying cry while campaigning for the local elections being held in Turkey in a few days:

“Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard,” Erdogan told supporters at a campaign rally.

The Turkish version of the Tea Party probably eats that crap up. And with fighting between Assad’s forces and the rebels encroaching on the Turkish border with increasing regularity, Erdoğan may have plenty of excuses to engage in more jingoistic military action in the weeks to come.

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