The recent photo of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan descending the staircase of his new palace between rows of soldiers in historic costume has been met with widespread derision, but it’s part of a deadly serious attempt to reinvent the Republic of Turkey.

On social media, the image has been remade with everything from Star Wars characters to superheroes as his honor guard. As so often, though, those who laugh at Erdogan (I laughed out loud) underestimate him. The derision was misplaced, but fear would be justified.

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