Turkey (SCF) – (I) – One of the Constitutional requirements to be able to serve as Turkey’s President is to have a college diploma, and Turkey’s association of professors have declared fake that of Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, which presents him as having graduated from «Marmara University».
A statement published by them on June 8th described the multiple possible explanations for irregularities of his diploma, then concluded, «But he cannot be represented as a graduate of Marmara University» (or, in the Turkish original of their statement, «Ancak Marmara Üniversitesi mezunu olarak gösterilemez»). He can’t, because his diploma is dated 4 March 1981 from the Economic and Administrative Sciences Faculty of Marmara University, and that’s a Faculty which wasn’t even part of Marmara University until 1983; in 1981, it was instead a college independent of the University, and known then only as the Aksaray Academy of Economic and Commercial Sciences. If he had actually possessed a diploma from that college, no «Marmara University» would have been printed on it.
So, he has always been misrepresenting himself by saying that, in 1981, he «received a Business Administration degree from the Aksaray School of Economics and Commercial Sciences (Marmara University)». He has presented no authentic evidence that he graduated from any college at all. Consequently, the professors’ association wrote, «This is bad practice, because the president is not a graduate of Marmara University ‘Aksaray School of Economics and Commercial Sciences’» – definitely not of Marmara University (which didn’t even exist until 28 March 1982), and probably not of Aksaray School of Economics and Commercial Sciences either (though it could be that he was, but that he had lost his diploma from there, and – being a psychopath – forged the one that he now shows, so as not to be declared illegal to run for, or serve as, the President of Turkey).
The relevant provision of the Turkish Constitution, in its original 1982 version, is:
ARTICLE 101. The President of the Republic shall be elected for a term of office of seven years by the Turkish Grand National Assembly from among its own members who are over 40 years of age and who have completed their higher education or from among Turkish citizens who fulfil these requirements and are eligible to be deputies.
In 2007, that was revised to: «The President of the Republic shall be elected by the public from among the Turkish Grand National Assembly members who are over 40 years of age and have completed higher education or from among ordinary Turkish citizens who fulfill these requirements and are eligible to be deputies. The president’s term of office shall be five years. The President of the Republic can be elected to two terms at most».
This provision wasn’t present in the original Ataturk Constitution of 1924, but became present in the 1961 Constitution, where its form was: «ARTICLE 95 – The President of the Turkish Republic shall be elected for a term of seven years from among those members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly who have completed their fortieth year and received higher education».
So, during the period of 1924-1961, there was no such educational requirement, in order for a person to be able to run for and serve as the President.
This issue for Erdogan didn’t exist until he entered the Grand National Assembly in 2003; but, after that time, he was contending for the Presidency, which he finally won in 2014, and the professors’ association is saying that he occupies that office illegally.
An article in Al-Monitor, on June 15th, was titled «Is Erdogan’s university diploma forged?» and Cengiz Çandar wrote: «If it turns out Erdogan was never qualified to be elected president, whatever he has signed or implemented would have to be considered null and void from a purely legal point of view». The professors’ association avoided addressing the governmental and political implications of their saying, «But he cannot be represented as a graduate of Marmara University». At the end of Çandar’s article was also this about the governmental implications: «It is mind-boggling. But if Erdogan’s diploma ends up being a forgery, even Turkey’s cowed media will not be able to ignore or avoid the explosive scandal that would result, with all its international dimensions». Now that Erdogan’s ‘diploma’ clearly is a forgery (or has, in so many words, been nailed as being such, by the professors’ association), and the only remaining question is therefore whether he lost an authentic one (and so he’s simply a psychopathic liar who had goofed), people are waiting to see if an authentic one exists. Perhaps instead, however, the issue will just fade away, since most Turks apparently tolerate dictatorship if it’s one they happen to agree with. (Otherwise, Erdogan wouldn’t even be in his present office.)
Marmara University has been placed into an awkward position by Erdogan’s forgery. Anadolu Agency, which is Turkey’s government-run equivalent of America’s Associated Press, headlined on 26 January 2013, «130th Anniversary of Marmara University: Marmara University decorated Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan with an honorary doctorate degree», but no mention was made then of Erdogan’s having claimed to have studied at MU, even though his having ‘graduated’ from that University (which, as was previously mentioned, never even had that name, until 1982) was, among Turks, a point of prestige for the University. Until recently, the University had simply basked quietly in the President’s glow. But Marmara University’s Catalog during the year 1995-96, in the catalog’s section «History of the University» did make note of one relevant fact here: that, «In accordance with the Act 2800, of November 6, 1981, The Istanbul Academy of Economics and Commercial Sciences was finally recognized as [named] Marmara University in July 25, 1982». So, even the University cannot reasonably deny that something is wrong with Erdogan’s ‘diploma’.
On 3 June 2016, a new website «Turkish Minute», which had started operation shortly after Erdogan on 5 March 2016 arrested and charged with treason the top management at Turkey’s largest (and often critical of Erdogan) newspaper, Today’s Zaman, headlined «Marmara University rector confirms Erdoğan is a graduate», and that report presenting the government’s line, might have helped to precipitate the collective statement from the professors’ association, explaining why the diploma was actually fake. Then, on June 18th, a blogger, «ufilter», headlined «The story of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fake degree and diploma», and provided yet additional details of its fakery, and further mentioned that at least two investigative journalists, in separate incidents, had recently died, suddenly and mysteriously, soon after having released their reports pointing out problems with Erdogan’s ‘diploma’. So, when Cengiz Çandar, on June 15th, referred to «Turkey’s cowed media», there was apparently good reason for them to be «cowed».
According to all of the latest independent reports, Erdogan’s claims to having had anything of a secular education are entirely bogus, because the only education that he unquestionably did have was his k-12 education, all of which was at Islamic schools, where he learned to read, and did read, the Quran. These were schools that prepare boys for the clergy. In fact, one of the reasons why Article 101 of Turkey’s Constitution requires the President to have a college degree is that k-12 schooling in Turkey prior to Ataturk was Quranic. Only post-high-school education then had some secular control. Though Erdogan grew up in Ataturk’s imposed secular Turkey, he seems all along to have been simply a closeted fundamentalist Sunni, who rose in politics because the Turkish public favored that, more than they favored Ataturk’s imposed separation of church-and-state. And now, even the EU is dependent upon Turkey, to absorb as many of the refugees as possible from the US-Saudi (and their jihadists) invasions of Syria, Libya, etc. (which invasions are aimed to overthrow leaders who are allied with Russia, but also to spread the Islamic faith, in precisely the Salafist-Wahhabist Sunni variety that the Sauds especially champion).
As Foreign Affairs reported, on 23 December 2015, about Erdogan’s Turkey: «Students who perform poorly on entrance exams for secondary school are shunted into imam-hatips where they study the Koran for up to 13 hours a week and take courses on the life of the Prophet Muhammad and Arabic [the language of the Quran]. Erdogan has boasted that during his tenure as president, enrollment in these schools soared from 63,000 to over one million».
Erdogan is part of a broader fundamentalist movement in Turkey to end the country’s secularism and return Turkey to its sectarian, Ottoman, past. Here is the way that one fundamentalist Muslim phrased the matter in a speech addressing American fundamentalist Christians in Colorado, on 14 November 1998, encouraging them in their fight for a statutorily Christian America to replace the existing secular US Constitution and system of government: «Religiosity went underground. While many Turks did lose their faith [after Ataturk’s reforms,] … many others simply feigned a loss of faith. (On my first visit to Turkey a student told me that he did not let his professors know that he prayed five times a day because he wanted to get a job after he graduated.)» Erdogan’s fake college diploma is part of that «underground» operation, to return Turkey to its previous system. Violating a secular Constitution is no sin, but a virtue, to believers in the view that law comes only from God, never from humans; i.e., not from democracy, the public, but from God. Thus, for Erdogan to violate section 101 of Turkey’s Constitution, is acceptable to people who believe the way he does (i.e., as a religious fundamentalist). It’s what had won him the Presidency.
The President of Turkey is globally important. Turkey is a crucial member of the Western alliance – the countries allied with the US against Russia – because it’s the single bridge between both the NATO alliance of anti-Russia countries (essentially, the US and the EU), and the anti-Russia GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) alliance of fundamentalist Sunni Islamic Sharia-law oil kingdoms against Russia: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman. Turkey is the only Islamic nation that’s both a member of NATO, and also a fundamentalist Sunni Islamic, and (under Erdogan) increasingly Sharia law, nation. (Unlike the others, Turkey has no oil of its own, however.) So, Erdogan is the regional bridge between America’s NATO military alliance, and the Sauds’ GCC military alliance. The only other such bridge (though not merely regional) is America’s President, Barack Obama, who is, in a sense, an even bigger such bridge than Erdogan is: the US President is the glue that holds the entire anti-Russia alliance together globally. Consequently, if Turkey’s regime collapses, then America’s regime might be the only remaining such geostrategic north-south bridge, holding together both ends of America’s anti-Russia alliance: otherwise known as the Western alliance. And, of course, with Pacific allies such as Japan and Australia, the US truly is the uniquely global superpower. But, if Erdogan falls, then an even heavier geostrategic burden will become placed on America, and the Sauds will consequently be even more dependent upon the US than they now are. Perhaps they’ll then need to reduce their funding to terrorist groups (such as they have always been requested to do, in private).From the Sauds’ standpoint, a return of Turkey back to its former Ataturk secularism, away from Turkey’s more recent Erdogan Sunni sectarianism, would thus likely be quite unwelcomed. Furthermore, how would the US, Sauds, Qatar’s Thanis, etc., then be able to get their weapons and jihadists into Syria to bring down and replace the secular Shiite ally of Russia who now leads that country: Bashar al-Assad?
So, Erdogan’s diploma-problem could turn out to have considerable global significance. If his diploma-problem fades away, then Turkey’s dictatorship will be established quite firmly, and Turkey’s Constitution will be empty verbiage, but Erdogan’s supporters will probably be even more passionate for him than they now are, because of their fears of the demons that he trumpets: Kurds, Shiites, etc. He’s an ordinary tyrant, in an extraordinary position, and thus is a tyrant with extraordinarily many foreign allies. That might pull him through.
This report prepared by Eric Zuesse for Strategic Culture Foundation.