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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow, March 2020. Pavel Golovkin / Reuters

On May 28, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish leader “who never loses elections”, won the runoff of Turkey’s presidential poll against his opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Erdogan has been at Turkey’s helm since 2003, first as prime minister and then, since 2014, as president. His latest win gives him another five-year presidential term. Together with a sweep in the parliamentary polls on May 14 that yielded pro-Erdogan far-right- and right-wing parties a solid majority in the country’s legislature, his victory all but anoints Erdogan as Turkey’s indisputable sultan.

Defying the assessments of many Western observers who had predicted Erdogan would have trouble holding on, his relatively smooth path to reelection has raised far-reaching questions about the sources of his power.…  Seguir leyendo »

A girl applauds as supporters of presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu attend a rally on Thursday in Bursa, Turkey, ahead of Sunday's election. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

The fall of populist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, should it come in Sunday’s closely watched and closely contested election, could put Turkey firmly back on a democratic path. But Turkey’s actual geopolitical orientation is still up in the air. Western partners have an opportunity to help steer a post-Erdogan Turkey in the right direction.

They have the tools to do it.

In his first days as president, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has promised to reestablish the rule of law. His broad six-party coalition has committed to releasing those wrongfully jailed under Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and to lift restrictions on key freedoms.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters in Ankara, Turkey, April 2023. Cagla Gurdogan / Reuters

In late February, after a huge earthquake devastated a large swath of his country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faced one of the greatest challenges of his political career. With a presidential election three months away, the government’s response to the humanitarian disaster was feckless and chaotic. On top of that, Erdogan’s economic policies had caused runaway inflation and many of Turkey’s citizens were fed up with his strong-arm rule. And as Erdogan’s popularity tumbled, a newly formed alliance of six opposition parties, led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the chair of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), seemed surprisingly disciplined and organized. After 20 years in power, Erdogan was poised to lose control of Turkey.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, February 2023. Presidential Press Office / Handout / Reuters

The earthquakes that struck ten southern Turkish provinces on February 6 mark the country’s worst humanitarian disaster in modern history. Bustling cities were leveled, ancient citadels crumbled, and thousands of residential and commercial buildings collapsed. In addition to numerous casualties in neighboring Syria, more than 44,000 people have died in Turkey as of February 24. More than 100,000 people have been injured and millions more are currently homeless. One-sixth of Turkey’s population—more than 13 million people—is thought to have been affected by the earthquakes.

Providing relief to the stricken areas is the Turkish government’s most immediate concern. The disaster, however, poses not just a logistical challenge but also a political one.…  Seguir leyendo »

There was a time when Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ran laser-beam-sharp election campaigns, winning poll after poll. Not anymore. On Sunday, Erdogan’s hand-picked candidate in Istanbul’s mayoral race, Binali Yildirim, lost to Ekrem Imamoglu in a clear-cut defeat.

The vote in Istanbul was a repeat of the March 31 election, in which Imamoglu defeated Yildirim by a thin 0.2 percent margin. After Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lodged a complaint, the election board in May decided to have the Istanbul vote annulled because of alleged irregularities and called for repeat elections on June 23. But in a shock to Erdogan, Imamoglu not only defeated Yildirim, but did so by nearly 10 percentage points.…  Seguir leyendo »

We had to wait awhile to be sure, but now it is clear: The ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered a defeat in Turkey’s key cities in the local elections that took place this past weekend.

There was a time when Erdogan — whether you liked him or not — represented change. He stood for a forward-looking vision for the country, suggesting that he could navigate the most pressing challenges, from the Kurdish issue to corruption to economic mismanagement, and he did. The people loved him for this reason and supported him at the ballot box.

No longer. Erdogan has lost his magic touch.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s portrait on a cigarette case and a lighter at an Istanbul souvenir shop. Credit Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has called for snap elections on June 24, almost a year and a half before the scheduled date in November 2019. He is expected to win because he has, once again, managed to stack the odds — militant nationalism, strong economic growth, a post-coup state of emergency that allows him to deploy security forces to crush his opposition and almost complete control of the Turkish media — in his favor.

The Turkish economy grew at 7.4 percent last year. Mr. Erdogan is seizing the moment to take credit for the strong economic performance before the economy shows signs of overheating.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey speaks with supporters in Ankara on Feb. 2. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/AP)

Over the past few weeks, Turkish officials have broken with decades of precedent in what is still, at least nominally, a secular republic: they have begun describing the country’s military deployment in Syria as “jihad.” During the first two days of the operation, which began on Jan. 20, the government’s Directorate of Religious Affairs ordered all of Turkey’s nearly 90,000 mosques to broadcast the “Al-Fath” verse from the Koran — “the prayer of conquest” — through the loudspeakers on their minarets. Mainstreaming jihad, which sanctions violence against those who “offend Islam,” is a crucial step in draping the sheath of sharia over a society.…  Seguir leyendo »

From the West’s perspective, the Turkish government is the equivalent of a close relative with a substance abuse problem: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become addicted to authoritarianism. The effects on the family — in this case the NATO alliance, which has included Turkey since 1952 — are devastating. It’s time for President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, two leading NATO heads of state, to have a clarifying conversation with Erdogan about his country’s self-destructive impulses.

Wednesday’s phone conversation between Trump and Erdogan, which subsequently triggered a public disagreement between Erdogan and the White House on what was discussed, is precisely not how this should be done.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey is so deeply polarized around the powerful persona of its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that instead of asking why terror attacks are happening and how they can be stopped, the country's pro- and anti-Erdogan blocks are blaming each other.

This leaves me deeply worried about Turkey and its ability to stymie further terror attacks through the vigor of its institutions and unity of its citizens.

Including last night's attack on a nightclub in central Istanbul, which killed at least 39 people, by my count Turkey has suffered 33 major terror attacks since summer 2015. These attacks, which have killed more than 730 people, are connected to two terror groups: ISIS and the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey is facing the largest wave of terror attacks in its history -- in the past six months alone, the country has been hit by five deadly attacks.

Islamic State (IS) has targeted Istanbul twice and Ankara once since October 2015, killing at least 120 people, and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has hit the Turkish capital Ankara twice, killing at least 65 people.

How Europe responds to the crisis facing Turkey could be crucial to the country's future -- as well as Europe's.

The only silver lining for Turkey at the moment is the reopening of the country's European Union (EU) accession talks.…  Seguir leyendo »

The modus operandi of Wednesday's deadly bomb attack in Ankara, which targeted off-duty military officers, is reminiscent of similar past attacks carried out by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkey has blamed the PKK's Syrian affiliate Party for Democratic Unity (PYD) and the PYD's military wing, People's Protection Forces (YPG), for the attack. The PYD has denied responsibility for itself or for the YPG.

The PKK on the other hand, hinted at at responsibility for the attack. PKK leader Cemil Bayik told Firat News Agency "the attack in Ankara could be seen as ... our retaliation."

If the PYD is indeed behind this attack, this could signal the beginning of a deeply troubling era of Kurdish politics for Turkey.…  Seguir leyendo »

The shooting down of a Russian jet that Turkey says violated its airspace near the Syrian border has further ratcheted up tensions between the two countries. The move appears to reflect a determination in Ankara to adopt a more aggressive posture toward Moscow. But while it is certainly a bold shift, it is very much a symptom of the problematic nature of Turkish-Russian ties.

Simply put, the two countries have diametrically opposed positions in Syria: Russia backs Bashar al-Assad's regime, which Turkey is trying to oust. Indeed, Ankara and Moscow are now effectively in a proxy war, with the former supporting the rebels while the latter is offering military support for the Assad regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saturday's attack in the Turkish capital is as close to Turkey's 9/11 as the country has gotten. Twin bombings in downtown Ankara, across from the city's busy central train station and only minutes from key government buildings, killed at least 95 people and injured hundreds more. It is, in short, the worst terror attack in the country's history.

The massacre is saddening and shocking, all the more so because it runs counter to the perception of Turkey as relatively stable and peaceful. Although it borders the tumultuous Middle East, Turkey has a vibrant economy, a large middle class and democratic governance.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran Won't Give Up on Its Revolution

The announcement last month of a preliminary agreement between the United States and Iran has led some to believe that Tehran will now enter the international system as a responsible actor. But such optimism ignores the fact that Iran’s current government still bears the imprint of a long imperial history and longstanding Persian regional ambitions.

Iran is a revolutionary power with hegemonic aspirations. In other words, it is a country seeking to assert its dominance in the region and it will not play by the rules. Yet, the Obama administration hopes a nuclear agreement will have a “transcendental effect” on Iran and convince it to abandon its imperial aspirations in return for a sense of normalcy.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s longest- ruling prime minister, won the country’s first direct presidential election. He will now change hats, moving from one executive position to another, but will keep his place as the most powerful man in Turkey.

For over a decade, the United States and Europe have viewed Turkey as a model for other Muslim-majority nations. For many, Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, known by the initials A.K.P., seemed to affirm that an Islamist polity could also be democratic. But this line of thinking was mistaken.

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Erdogan has governed in an increasingly authoritarian manner.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Turkey holds direct presidential elections for the first time on Aug. 10, the people will speak. Turks are eager to be heard following a wave of protests in the last year against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which were followed by a violent police crackdown. Erdogan faces criticism for his authoritarian leadership style, as well as corruption allegations. Yet it is all but guaranteed that he will be Turkey's first popularly elected president.

Why? It is a numbers game.

Local elections on March 30 brought the AKP 45% of the vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Turks are increasingly hubristic, and not just in the Middle East. Having seen their total G.D.P. more than double in the past decade, many Turks do not feel that they need the European Union anymore. Turkey’s economy is growing much faster than the European average, so the argument goes, why beg to be part of Europe’s anemic Union?

Conversely, many Europeans are increasingly antagonistic toward Turkey’s ongoing bid for European Union membership. Following the huge protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square last summer, in which millions took to the streets, only to be overpowered by the police, many have argued that Turkey is not a democracy and the Union does not need it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two years ago, I argued in a Post op-ed that Turkey was pivoting toward the United States. This policy has not ushered in what Ankara wanted: American firepower to oust the Assad regime in Syria. And feeling alone, Turkey has started to seek other allies, including Beijing.

When the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials toyed with the idea of being a stand-alone actor in the Middle East. By 2011, they had realized that the Arab Spring would create long-term instability in their neighborhood and would position Iran against Turkey in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since 2002, Turkey’s sound economic policies have made it a member of the Group of 20 and turned it into a majority middle-class society for the first time in its history. Yet this week’s huge protests show that the ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P., has become a victim of its own success.

Indeed, the middle class that the party has created is committed to individual freedoms — and it is now challenging the A.K.P.’s style of governance and political domination. College students, mostly of middle-class origins and considered apolitical, emerged as an organizing force in the demonstrations.…  Seguir leyendo »