The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak: Erdogan is concealing Turkey’s true corona figures

Israel Hayom 31.08.2020

By Dean Shmuel Elmas 

The reopening of skies and doors to foreign tourists has given many economies across the globe a much-needed shot in the arm, but one country is lagging far behind despite its seemingly reasonable morbidity rates – Turkey. According to the country’s official figures, 1,491-1,549 people have contracted the coronavirus over the past three days and between 26-39 people have died. In a country with 83 million citizens, these are relatively good numbers; the rest of the world, however, doubts their veracity.

Turkey remains a “red” country from the perspective of the Israeli Health Ministry and most Western countries, primarily because of the view that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s and his health minister, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, have artificially suppressed the true figures. Now Erdogan, who has seen his popularity plummet over the past two years, is being assailed not only by his political opponents but by his old ally, former prime minister and foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu.

“The most egregious thing taking place in Turkey today is the concealment of the morbidity rates,” Davutoğlu has repeatedly told members of his “Gelecek Partisi” (the Future Party).

This criticism is extremely significant because although Davutoğlu is not the first to criticize Erdogan for his handling of the corona pandemic, it is the first time such criticism has “come from home.” Yes, Davutoğlu is no longer a member of Erdogan’s Justice and Development party, having created a party of his own, but he is a political leader who espouses Neo-Ottomanism, similar to and even more extreme than Erdogan on this matter.

Moreover, Davutoğlu’s status as an academic in Turkey, as a professor of political science and international relations, is also renowned. In this context, the experienced politician is capitalizing on his status. “Many professors, academics and medical experts complain they have no access to information sources,” he lambasted his former partner, Erdogan. “The members of the scientific committee are three-five ministers, the president’s relatives and health ministry officials who are under no external oversight.”

Davutoğlu also took aim at his former political home, Justice and Development, saying it has become a “family party.” Indeed, Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, is now the finance minister. “I want to tell them, we will never allow anyone or any family to mortgage our country,” Davutoğlu warned.

“The consistency of the scope of infection across Turkey is not logical,” Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, an expert on contemporary Turkish politics and foreign policy at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and Tel Aviv University, told Israel Hayom.  A recent study conducted by Yanarocak for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies offers a mathematical model, which was revealed on social media, and proves that the morbidity rates in Turkey have remained consistent in relation to the scope of Turkey’s population.

The consideration behind concealing the real coronavirus figures in Turkey, according to Yanarocak, is an economic one.

“The [Turkish] economy is so fragile that they cannot allow themselves to impose another lockdown, even if in their case the lockdown they did impose was only partial and for a very limited time,” Yanarocak explains.