Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Wednesday that he is not afraid of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after he showed a propaganda video featuring images from a mob attack against the CHP leader back in 2019, a move interpreted by many as an implicit threat.
“He [Erdoğan] showed videos of me at his party’s [Justice and Development Party, AKP] meeting. He’s threatening me, and it’s as if he’s ordering some people to ‘Get the unfinished business taken care of.’ I am here declaring that I’m not afraid of you or your associates. For the record, I will fight to the very end,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
On Wednesday Erdoğan lashed out at Kılıçdaroğlu over the CHP’s decision to reject a motion to extend the military’s mandate to launch cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq by two more years.
Erdoğan accused the CHP leader of caving to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The president’s speech was accompanied by a video presentation that compiled Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements toward various segments of AKP supporters, criticizing his use of “polarizing language.”
The video also featured footage from a mob attack on the CHP leader in 2019 as he attended the funeral of a Turkish soldier who died during a skirmish with militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly war against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
According to the CHP, the attack was a premeditated and organized attempt at the lynching of its chair, which security officials failed to prevent.
Many viewed the inclusion of these images in the video as an implicit threat to the opposition leader, who has increasingly started to challenge the AKP’s narrative on national security and the definition of terrorism.
Opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) lawmaker Mustafa Yeneroğlu, who was a member of the AKP during the 2019 mob attack, said that upon his tweet expressing well wishes to Kılıçdaroğlu after the attack, a few ministers from the AKP followed suit.
“Those ministers received calls from the presidency, saying, “We don’t have such a policy. None of us will express well wishes.”
Yeneroğlu said he did not believe the attack was spontaneous and that further investigation must reveal the identity of the organizers.
Time and again, Turkey’s strong man has praised attacks on opposition leaders, leading critics to conclude that he is trying to intimidate his opponents into submission as public support for his AKP dwindles by the day.
Erdoğan previously lauded a verbal attack İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, who cut her visit to Rize’s İkizdere town center short in May after a pro-government group accosted her in the street. An altercation erupted between İYİ Party members and the group, prompting the police to intervene.
Erdoğan also threatened Akşener, saying that more of the same would come.
“They gave ‘Ms Daughter-in-Law’ a good lesson in Rize. They did what they had to do. This was just the beginning; let’s see what else happens,” Erdoğan said, referring to Akşener, whose husband is from Rize and is thus called a daughter-in-law of the city.
Turkey has been going through a series of political and financial crises.
Critics have been complaining about the country’s one-man rule, particularly after the presidential system of governance went into effect in 2018, under which Erdoğan was elected as the first president, enjoying vast powers.