Erdogan’s Journey – Conservatism and Authoritarianism in Turkey
What happened to Recep Tayyip Erdogan? The Turkish president came to power in 2003 promising economic and political liberalization. But under his rule, Turkey has instead moved in a profoundly illiberal, authoritarian direction—although not toward repressive Islamism, which some feared was Erdogan’s true agenda, given his background in Islamist politics. Rather, Erdogan has become something more akin to a traditional Middle Eastern strongman: consolidating personal power, purging rivals, and suppressing dissent.
Over the summer, it briefly appeared as if Erdogan might have overreached, when a group of military officers attempted to topple him—at the direction, Erdogan has insisted, of his erstwhile ally turned bitter foe Fethullah Gulen, an influential Turkish cleric based in the United States. But when the plotters struck, Erdogan was able to quickly rally support inside the armed forces and among the broader public and managed to put down the coup attempt with surprising ease. A subsequent crackdown has been swift and merciless: the government has jailed tens of thousands of alleged Gulenists, conducted a sweeping purge of the army and the state bureaucracy, shut down media outlets, and suspended thousands of academics. Erdogan’s response to the coup attempt has demonstrated that the president’s grip on power remains stronger than even many of his fiercest critics had assumed.
Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.
Turkey’s Russia Affair
Turkey’s deepening partnership with Russia needs to be situated within a larger context. Turkey is moving closer toward Russia at a time when the West is beset by considerable turmoil. […]
Turkey’s election reveals the durability of nationalism
Suat Kiniklioglu was formerly deputy chairman of external affairs for Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) before parting ways in 2012. He is a senior fellow at the Institute for Security & […]
Will the Kurdish Question Secure Erdoğan’s Re-election?
The Kurdish question may serve President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, helping to secure his re-election. The election campaign has demonstrated that Erdoğan no longer energizes the masses; after fifteen years in […]
The U.S. Should Go Around Erdogan to Engage Turkey
Following recent clashes at the Gaza-Israel border, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has broken his tenuous two-year cease-fire with Israel and returned to spewing invective at the Jewish state. But […]
Engulfed in the Gulf: Erdoğan and the Qatar Crisis
The Gulf crisis over Qatar is once again catapulting Turkey into the politics of the Middle East, for which it is woefully unprepared. After a brief attempt at neutrality, Ankara […]
Turkey & Qatar’s Support for Extremist Groups
For a long time both Qatar and Turkey have been U.S. partners in name, but provide material support to extremist groups at the same time.