The current type of regime in Turkey is democracy on the paper, but autocracy in reality and application. Autocracy is a term describing the regime type, but not the ruler. Therefore, it is not an adequate term to define the Turkey’s regime controlled by a supreme ruler.




Kleptocracy and kakistokracy are the terms helping to conceptualize the regime type in current Turkey. American Heritage Dictionary defined Kleptocracy as “a government characterized by rampant greed and corruption.” Kakistocracy is defined as “Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.”

Turkey have had one of the most corrupt governments in the history. In other words, kleptocrats are ruling the country. 17/25 December corruption case is one of the greatest investigation ever in the Turkish history. It not only involves a national criminal affairs, but also includes some international crimes such as violating the transnational banking regulations, money laundering, and UN Sanctions on Iran by an Iranian businessman, Reza Zarrab. He was so well-respected that he was given an award by some executive level people and ministers of the government. Further, he was considered as a “philanthropist” by the President. Ironically, the same man was arrested when he entered US soil for vacation in 2016.

Author: Zakir Gul is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Department at the State University of New York (SUNY)

This and other corrupt policies and applications stigmatized the whole country, Turkey in the eye of the World. Kleptocratic policies, have caused skyrocketed corruption, and made Turkey among the most corrupt countries according to some international standards. Some recent reports by the Brookings Institute and Global Initiative showed how this endemic corruption led to failure in drug policies and paved ways to illegal oil trade on the borders.

Even the latest referendum that was alleged to be a pillar of democracy was carried out under the shadow of state-of-emergency suspending all freedoms and threatening the opposing voters. In fact, some effective opposition political figures including tens of MPs, had been jailed before the elections. Furthermore, almost all of the opposing media and journalist were eliminated to thwart different voices heard.




The rulers are no wonder kakistocrats, as well. In other words, the country is being ruled by the least qualified and bigot people. To clarify, here are some examples. Turkey was supposed to be in good relations with each neighbor with –zero problem– so to speak. However, currently, Turkey does not have a single neighbor that likes and supports it. Not only by the neighbors, but also many countries in the World left Turkey alone. For a short time, it was quite close to the EU standards in terms of human rights, economy, and living standards. Now, tens of thousands of citizens are victimized by mass purges, jailings, inhumane treatment, torture, and even abductions and killings. Economy has gotten worse, banking system is not trustworthy, and hence, the credit score has declined dramatically according to Moody’s.

Another example would be the short-sighted strategy to support some radical terrorist groups via National Intelligence Agency, in the Middle East in order to overthrow Assad regime. This support includes both within the country’s border and out of the borders. It is not hidden that some ISIL terrorists were taken care at Turkish hospitals. It was also on the national media that some pro-government security forces were covering radical recruiters and cadets prepared for some extreme terrorist groups. The support of war weaponry was not only on national media coverage but also on international media. Furthermore, there are numerous allegations that the richest terrorist organization, ISIS is selling the oil via companies related to Erdogan’s family.

In conclusion, autocracy is not good and humane as a regime type, at all. Even, there might be some autocrats who might be eligible to rule and decent in work in spite of autocratic regime. However, that is not the case for Turkey’s current rulers. Once a role model Muslim state with a secular democracy in the Middle East, it sadly becomes classic Middle Eastern autocracy with kleptocratic and kakistocratic politicians, due to the corrupt, ineligible and oppressive rulers.




Since Erdogan’s new governing system is based on corruption, illegibility, and oppression, there will be a vicious and inevitable circle of illegalities, illegitimacies, and inhumanities. The collapse of such a system is unavoidable. The atrocities carried out by kleptocratic and kakistocratic autocrats deserve to be considered by international legal institutions. Further, the consequences may require an international trial such as Nuremberg Trials due to both the national (i.e., violating human rights) and international (i.e. supporting radical terrorist groups) crimes committed.

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