The Turkish lira is falling, tourists are veering away and a national deficit is increasing. With the Turkish economy stagnating, the government is looking at the White House hoping that its new tenant, Donald Trump, an admirer of President-Sultan Erdogan, will lend a hand.
In the past three months, the value of the Turkish currency has declined sharply. It has lost 15 percent of its value against the dollar. At the root of the situation are a series of events attributable to the AKP, the party in power:
By playing the role of arsonist in the Middle East, Turkey has increased the number of terrorist attacks by Islamist groups striking the hand that bankrolled them, scaring tourists away. The massive cleansing after the failed coup on July 15 has pushed foreign investors away and led to the closure or compulsory administration of 496 companies, whose leaders were accused of ties to the exiled Muhammed Fethullah Gülen. And the shooting down of the Russian Sukhoi jet last year — despite subsequent reconciliation with Moscow — has not been completely forgotten, and many of the Russian sanctions remain in place.
But the government won’t intervene. On Saturday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim tried to reassure investors by defining the turbulence as a global crisis and not a local problem, forgetting that the AKP is paying for its policies of privatizations and savage neoliberalism that gutted consumption among the lower and middle classes.
The numbers speak for themselves. The level of exports fell by 3 percent in a year, below $120 billion, while the national carrier Turkish Airlines recorded a loss of $463 million in the first nine months of the year and grounded 30 planes for lack of passengers. That failure is directly linked to the country’s inability to attract new foreign tourism, which fell by 25.8 percent compared with October 2015.
It is not a secret that Ankara wants to overcome its dramatic stagnation with the help of Trump. Turkish finance leaders agree: Economic and trade relations will be strengthened as a natural effect of the favor the tycoon has reserved for Erdogan’s Turkey.
This optimism is also reflected among politicians, who believe the U.S. may be more inclined to extradite Gülen to Turkey to face accusations he was the mastermind of the failed coup. “We expect that the new administration will either arrest him or extradite him to Turkey,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said recently, based on Erdogan’s conversations with the president-elect.
If that happened, the U.S. would legitimize the ongoing purges that have reached in recent days records that recall South American dictatorships. According to the pro-government daily Yeni Safak, the government may revoke the adoption of children by families who are accused of links with Gulen’s Hizmet movement. The newspaper talks about 5 thousand families that are already under investigation since August, along with four NGOs that deal with adoptions. The confirmation came from an official of the Ministry of the Family, “it would be not right for a child to stay with a foster family that has ties with terrorists.”