Turkey’s wildfires expose chaos, despair and rage

In a matter of a few days, more than 25 provinces in Turkey have turned into an inferno. As the wildfires continue to engulf the entire Mediterranean coastline of the country, leaving precious forests and fauna charred, Turkey’s central and local authorities have displayed a massive - almost consistent - failure to combat the disaster. The apparent unpreparedness and despair has consequently fanned the flames of profound outrage among the population, who already feel the consequences of a political and economic crisis crackling the ground of the country for months.

How was it possible that, given the worsening climate crisis and its ongoing impact worldwide, the Erdoğan government is battling the catastrophy with a total of three fire fighting planes and half a dozen helicopters?

Why has Ankara been delaying and resisting the requests from various neighbouring nations to send support? With what reasoning do the major figures of the power in Ankara, instead of coordinating efforts, continue to threaten and attack civilian voices in social media that cry for help? Where is the logic, if any, in throwing tea packs to the crowd, as President Erdoğan did during his visit to the disaster-stricken coastal town of Marmaris? In short, people are asking, "What are the rulers of the country really thinking?’’

The responses may be simple. The seemingly unstoppable series of natural disasters, such as the unprecedented mucilage problem in the Marmara Sea and the current wildfires, as well as the wobbly battle against COVID-19, are further exposing the incompetence of the government to deliver responses to the country’s needs and expectations.

Drop by drop, the fury against Erdoğan’s rule is accumulating. Yet this rage seems to find no reasonable dynamic within the political opposition, which seems as fragmented as it is confused. Whether or not this accruing rage will translate into an integrated civilian action against the government remains to be seen, as the concerns of a wider unrest grow.

As its precious natural resources are being wasted, Turkey has once again signalled the level of trouble it is facing. As the administrative incompetence threatens to become a chronic issue, the prospects for stability seem to float even farther away.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.