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 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 »
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 »
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 »
When Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met President Obama at the White House on Thursday, the most pressing topic was the war in Syria. Turkey has not faced a threat on this scale since Stalin demanded territory from the Turks in 1945.
In 2011, the Turkish government severed all diplomatic ties with the government of Bashar al-Assad and began to support the Syrian opposition groups seeking to oust him. But, thus far, this policy has failed, and it has exposed Turkey to growing risks, most recently two deadly bomb attacks in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli that were most likely planted by pro-Assad forces in retaliation for Turkish support of the Syrian rebels.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey is rising. In the last decade, the country's economy has nearly trebled in size. Just 10 years ago, the average Turk had one-fifth the income of the average European. Today, Turks are only 30% less wealthy than European Union citizens. Given Europe's financial doldrums, Turkey could catch up in the coming years and realize its 4-centuries-old dream of becoming a great power again.
But on the political front, Turkey is still a mixed bag. The nation is vacillating between becoming a global power or taking a parochial path under the governing Justice and Development Party's (AKP) straitjacket of conservatism.
In years past, following the vision of its founder, Kemal Ataturk, Turkey exercised a strict version of secularism, mandating no religion in government.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey was the first country to take direct military action against the government of Bashar al-Assad since Syria’s uprising began in the spring of 2011. And tensions are escalating further: earlier this week, the Turkish government sent 25 F-16 fighters to an air base near the border with Syria and on Wednesday it forced a Syrian passenger plane to land in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where suspected military aid shipments were taken off the plane.
The shelling along the Turkish-Syrian border is a critical development. The Assad regime is already busy fighting the Free Syrian Army near the Turkish border, where it has been bombing towns and villages.… Seguir leyendo »
The close relationship that President Obama has built with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provided the United States with a key Muslim ally in the Middle East. Washington and Ankara have worked closely to stabilize Iraq. Yet a storm awaits them in Syria.
Turkey announced Thursday that it has authorized military operations in Syria following Syrian shelling of Turkish areas this week. As the crisis in Syria has deepened, the White House has appeared willing to wait for the demise of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. For Ankara, the crisis has become an emergency.
As turmoil in Syria has grown over the past 18 months, Ankara has presumed that the United States and Turkey were on the same page regarding regime change.… Seguir leyendo »