Hostility towards America has been further fuelled by a scandal during NATO's cyber manoeuvre last week. The fact that two officers used Erdogan and Ataturk as virtual targets during the cyber manoeuvre now apparently provides "the final evidence of the posturing against Turkey". Of course, the Turkish government knows how to transform tensions with foreign nations into votes at home.

The crisis ahead of the April referendum – intentionally stoked by preventing politicians from speaking in Germany and The Netherlands – increased Erdogan's share of the vote by two percentage points. It should be noted that he won the referendum with just 51.4 percent of the vote.

Erdogan supporters celebrate the adoption of the Turkish presidential system (photo: picture-alliance/AP)
An extremely narrow victory: on 16 April Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the referendum to introduce a presidential system with just 51.4 percent of the vote. The referendum included changes to the constitution that have extended the powers of the presidency

Erdogan knows that wranglings with the outside world are useful to him domestically and his response to the NATO manoeuvre was predictably dramatic: "we've demolished the bridges, burned the boats. Whatever the price, we won't stop striving to achieve our goals. With Allah's help we'll tear up your plans and maps."

Turkey should go nuclear

In no time at all of course, the government media discourse changed its tone, having previously vaunted the businessman Zarrab as "heroic entrepreneur who reduced Turkey's budget deficit".

In his column in a newspaper loyal to the government, AKP deputy Mehmet Metiner wrote: "to hell with Zarrab! This is not someone of any importance to us." Headlines that just a few months ago had the tenor "we were never closer to the United States", began singing a different tune. Now we're reading: "cut our ties with the Americans", "leave NATO", "let's shut down the bases". The headers of some columns read: "NATO is now our opponent", "Turkey and its leader (Erdogan) are the focus of the imperialists", "get ready for the battle for independence".

Others are going even further and writing that we should declare war on America. The well-known author Ardan Zenturk titled his piece with the words: "let's fight against this USA, those who say 'without me' better leave now" and ended it thus: "there is no longer any point to 'reconciliation initiatives'. It's clear that we will we one day fight (against the U.S.). My recommendation to all those who say: 'without me – my property and my comforts are more important to me than my country' is that you should leave Turkey today."

Ibrahim Karagul, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Yeni Safak", has even set a date, recommending that Turkey acquire nuclear arms: "it is now crucial to take extraordinary defence measures in 2018, even nuclear armaments if necessary."

Turkey′s public prosecutors have even waded in, declaring "judicial war" on America. The Istanbul Public Prosecutor's Office recently launched a probe into the New York prosecutors who ordered Zarrab's arrest. If they set foot on Turkish soil, they will be arrested. So they'd better watch out!

Bulent Mumay

© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 2017

Translated from the German by Nina Coon

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