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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Erdogan looks defenseless as earthquake failure in Turkey.  

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Turkey’s most devastating earthquake since 1939 raises big questions about whether such a major tragedy could have been averted and whether Erdogan’s government could have done more to save lives. With elections approaching, his future after 20 years in power is in jeopardy and his pleas for national unity are being ignored. Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged shortcomings in the response but appeared to blame fate for his visit to the disaster area:  “Such things have always happened. It’s part of destiny’s plan.”

However, it took time to build a response, and some villages lost contact for days. Ultimately, over 30,000 professional and volunteer sector employees came together with teams from many other countries.  More than 6,000 buildings collapsed and workers from Turkey’s Afad disaster authority were themselves caught up in the earthquakes. Those initial hours were critical but roads were damaged and search and rescue teams struggled to get through until day two or day three. Turkey has more experience with earthquakes than almost any other country but the founder of the main volunteer rescue group believes this time, politics got in the way.

President Erdogan has called for unity and solidarity, denouncing critics of the disaster response as dishonorable. He has become increasingly intolerant of criticism and many of his opponents are in prison or fleeing the country. They responded by arresting tens of thousands of Turks and firing civil servants.

The economy plummeted, inflation reached 57%, and the cost of living was very high. One of the government’s first actions in response to the earthquake was to temporarily shut down Twitter, which was used in Turkey to help rescue workers find survivors. The government said it was being used to spread disinformation, and police arrested a political scientist who criticized the emergency measures.

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