Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on February 9 risked stoking more resentment among survivors of the country’s massive earthquake tragedy when he doubled down on the notion that the two giant quakes were solely responsible for the devastation, rather than look at the role of poorly constructed buildings linked to corruption or rescue efforts hit by stark delays.
During a visit to Pazarcik, a town in Kahramanmaras province in southern Turkey, Erdogan, reported the Guardian, told one person: “What happens, happens, this is part of fate’s plan.”
The remark was an echo of a comment he made last year after an explosion at a state-run coal mine killed 41 miners. Erdogan told mining families that it was “fate’s design”.
“Erdogan has an image he’s cultivated in the last 20 years, it’s both sweet and sour: he’s autocratic, but effective, a patriarchal figure almost replacing what used to be called devlet baba, the fatherly state. This is why his base loves him and his opponents fear him – his wrath is serious as much as his compassion is real. That’s his whole brand, which is now being tested,” Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and author of several books on Erdogan’s leadership, told the UK daily.
“It’s remarkable as Erdogan replaced another overarching, autocratic fatherly state which essentially collapsed following another massive earthquake in 1999.”
By the end of February 9, the death toll caused by the earthquakes across southeastern Turkey and northern Syria had passed 21,000, with 17,674 confirmed dead in Turkey and 3,377 reported deceased in Syria.
The 1999 earthquake referred to by Cagaptay struck Izmit, east of Istanbul. From 17,000 to 18,000 people lost their lives in that disaster.
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