Facing an unprecedented domestic crisis, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been dialing up the nationalist rhetoric lately as crucial elections loom next week. After Turkish forces shot down a Syrian fighter jet earlier today, the prime minister talked tough. Bragging at the incident at a campaign rally in northwest Turkey, Erdogan crowed:
"A Syrian plane violated our airspace. Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard."
The Turkish premier has been battling corruption allegations for months, troubles that recently intensified after audio clips further implicating Erdogan were disseminated on Twitter. Erdogan did the only sensible thing he could: He simply shut off Twitter in his country.
Twitter, mwitter!," Erdoğan told thousands of supporters at a rally ahead of March 30 local elections late on Thursday, in a phrase translating roughly as "Twitter, schmitter!"
(Turkish Twitter users have been tinkering to find ways to work around the ban.)
As the international community has chided him for censorship and his normally reserved president has become surprisingly vocal, Erdogan continues to blame the "smear campaign" against him on a vague confederation of "foreign hands" and "terrorists."
Next week's elections are being viewed as a referendum on the rule of Erdogan and his AK Party, which has been in power since 2003.