Erdogan Declares Victory, Threatens to 'Make Rivals Pay'
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday night declared victory for his party in local elections, and also took the opportunity to warn his rivals that they will "pay the price."
Erdogan’s party took a strong lead in the early counting of the votes, which was enough for the embattled prime minister to declare victory in the vote that was widely seen as a referendum on his 11-year-rule.
"Those who attacked Turkey got disappointed," Erdogan was quoted by AFP as having told a jubilant crowd of thousands, speaking from the balcony of his party's Ankara headquarters.
"You have supported your prime minister, I thank you infinitely," Erdogan told the jubilant crowd.
"You have protected the independence struggle of the new Turkey," he declared, continuing to threaten to go after his nemesis, a reclusive Muslim cleric whom he accuses of running a parallel "deep state" undermining his government.
He has accused loyalists of 73-year-old imam Fethullah Gulen in the police and justice systems of dropping leaks on Twitter and of bugging secret security talks on Syria, then releasing the audio recording on YouTube.
Referring to Gulen’s loyalists in his speech Sunday night, Erdogan threatened, "We will enter their caves and ... they will pay the price. How can you threaten our national security on Syria? Syria is currently in a state of war against us."
Last week, Turkey also threatened to block access to other social media platforms if users publish recordings or documents which “threaten national security.”
Erdogan’s bans on websites have been met with harsh criticism by the United States. The Turkish leader has defended the ban on Twitter, saying he had given the order to block the site because it was not obeying Turkey's laws.