Erdoğan Discovers Personality Doesn’t Trump Geopolitics

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey speaks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, in Kiev, March 20, 2015
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey speaks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, in Kiev, March 20, 2015 (Press Service of the President of Ukraine/Palinchak Mikhail)

Turkey still hopes the United States might reconsider their support for Kurdish rebels in Syria, but it doesn’t look like Donald Trump will change this policy from his predecessor, Barack Obama.

If anything, the new president has doubled down, approving the delivery of more arms to Kurds who do battle with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Read more

What the Hell Just Happened to Turkey?

Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and his wife wave at supporters in Balıkesir, February 28, 2014
Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and his wife wave at supporters in Balıkesir, February 28, 2014 (AKP)

And “to” seems the right word, because this was done to Turkey by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his political machine. International electoral monitors cite fraud; so too does the powerful Republican People’s Party. That hardly matters, it seems. Turkish election officials will not allow a recount.

And so even if cheated, it is a victory for Erdoğan. It has been a long road for a critical Middle Eastern nation. The geopolitical trajectory of Turkey is now set. Read more

Erdoğan Asks Turks to Jump Off a Cliff with Him

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at a rally in Istanbul, March 26
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at a rally in Istanbul, March 26 (Turkish Presidency)

Turks will be asked on Sunday if they trust Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to run the country on his own or want to preserve at least a pretense of democracy.

Of course, that’s not how it’s put on the ballot paper. Nominally, Turks will be asked to approve or reject constitutional changes that would transform the country from a parliamentary into a presidential republic.

With the compliance of his party men in the cabinet and parliament, Erdoğan has already turned what what used to be a ceremonial post into a de facto executive presidency.

Should the referendum go his way, Erdoğan would also get the power to suspend parliament and appoint prosecutors and judges. Read more

Erdoğan Huffs and Puffs, But Balks at Sanctions Against Dutch

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses parliament in Ankara, July 15, 2014
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses parliament in Ankara, July 15, 2014 (AKP)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has continued to agitate against the Dutch government after it prevented two of his ministers from speaking at rallies in the country.

In a television interview, he called on Dutch voters of Turkish descent not to support either the ruling liberal party of Mark Rutte nor the nationalist Freedom Party of Geert Wilders in parliamentary elections on Wednesday. Both, he said, “see Turkey as the enemy.” Read more

Erdoğan’s Blowback: How Personal Ambitions Plunged Turkey into Crisis

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is surrounded by security personnel as he leaves a building in Istanbul, October 13, 2016
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is surrounded by security personnel as he leaves a building in Istanbul, October 13, 2016 (!Koss)

Recep Erdoğan has come a long way. The president of Turkey, Erdoğan has been clawing upward since becoming mayor of Istanbul in 1994. His political road has been riddled with mines: Turkish generals, side-switching Islamist allies, Kurdish politicians and secular-minded Turks. His accomplishments are impressive. Serving as prime minister from 2003 until 2014, he shepherded real democracy into what was once a military-dominated republic.

But all great movements run out of steam. Erdoğan’s political shakeup of Turkey is starting to ossify into authoritarian thuggery and habits meant to be banished by democracy.

Worse, his policies are getting Turkish citizens killed. Read more

After Failed Coup, Erdoğan Will Further Polarize Turkey

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico greet an honor guard in Mexico City, February 12, 2015
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico greet an honor guard in Mexico City, February 12, 2015 (Presidencia de la República Mexicana)

If anyone still thought President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan might interpret this weekend’s attempted coup as a warning to govern more inclusively, the arrests of thousands of alleged plotters in the judiciary and military should put such hopes to rest.

By detaining so many previously-identified opponents of his government, Erdoğan is clearly using the failed putsch to purge the vestiges of Turkey’s secularist establishment.

The result is likely to be an Islamist party in full control of NATO’s southeastern flank and a president in full control of his party and the state — despite lacking the constitutional authority for either. Read more

Erdoğan Survives Military Coup Attempt in Turkey

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan observes a military ceremony, July 9, 2015
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan observes a military ceremony, July 9, 2015 (Turkish Presidency)
  • A faction of the Turkish military tried and failed to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this weekend.
  • Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said fewer than 3,000 soldiers were involved in the putsch. A similar number was later said to have been arrested.
  • Late on Friday, soldiers barricaded access to the major crossways over the Bosphorus in Istanbul and seized the city’s airport. Tanks strafed the parliament building in Ankara.
  • Supporters across the country heeded Erdoğan’s call to take to the streets and resist the coup attempt. Soldiers surrendered to the crowds and police overnight. Read more