Four Key Aspects of Erdoğan’s ‘New Turkey’

A giant poster of President Erdoğan hangs next to the Turkish flag in the run-up to the October 2015 elections. Photo credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Introduction

It is hard to escape news about Turkey these days. Terrorist attacks, a failed coup and a crucial upcoming referendum have together thrust the country into the spotlight. Under the guidance of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the past 15 years, Turkey has seen great changes in its social and political makeup. Whilst he has brought a hitherto unknown level of prosperity to Turkey, Erdoğan is accused by his opponents of authoritarianism and of introducing Islamism into Turkey’s previously secular government. This article addresses four key political and geostrategic aspects of Turkey under Erdoğan.

Before rising to national power Erdoğan served as mayor of Istanbul, representing the Islamist ‘Welfare’ Party (1). Ever since the birth of modern Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk after the First World War, Turkey’s government and particularly the military have strived to maintain Kemalist ideas, principally that of secular governance (2). This has led to the military intervening on multiple occasions in civilian affairs. Coups occurred in 1960, 1971 and 1980. ‘Post-modern coups’, with the government acquiescing to the military’s demands without troops taking action, have also occurred. Such measures included the banning of Islamist parties that threatened the secular ideal. This was the fate of the ‘Welfare’ Party in 1997, and several of its predecessors before that (2). As a consequence Islamists in Turkey had to moderate their message to avoid being targeted by the military. One such group, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), removed all Islamic references from their name and rebranded themselves as ‘conservative democrats’ (2). This gave them broad support, not only amongst Islamists but also with traditional non-Islamist conservatives. In 2002 the AKP were able to win two-thirds of the seats in the Turkish Assembly and Erdoğan, the party leader, became prime minister. In 2004 the AKP consolidated their power in the local elections, increasing their share of the vote to 42% (2).

2004 also saw the EU extend a formal invitation to Turkey to begin EU accession negotiations (3). In the early days of AKP rule Erdoğan actively worked towards mature democracy and EU membership; legal reforms, greater freedom of expression and the abolition of the death penalty all boded well for Turkish democracy (4). Several factors, however, led to a stalling of the accession bid over time.

Turkey has a long-running dispute with EU member Cyprus over the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus since 1974. Politicians in several EU countries have also expressed reservations about Turkish membership, arguing that Turkey is politically and culturally too distinct to become an EU member state (2). Since 2007, when Erdoğan installed a pro-Islamist AKP member as president, Turkey has moved away from the EU and democratic practices (5). Government tolerance of dissent became much weaker. In a series of moves, the government shut down or took control of media outlets that were critical of its actions (5). Academics and journalists have been particularly targeted, with many being censored, fired, sued and even jailed (5). Reporters Without Borders, in their 2016 World Press Freedom Index, ranked Turkey at 151 out of 180 countries, between Tajikistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (6). The Gezi Park protests of 2013 against the government’s growing authoritarianism were met with brutal police force, underlining the shift in attitude from the early days of AKP rule. The government also sought to brand the protesters as traitors or outside agents conspiring against the nation (7). All these factors, combined with the concentration of power in Erdoğan’s hands and the decreasing independence of the judiciary, have driven a wedge between Turkey and the EU.

Today Erdoğan is consolidating his control over Turkish politics as president, with strong popular support. Large sections of the population, however, are alienated by his pro-Islamist agenda and growing authoritarianism. He faces a strategic threat in the growing power of the Kurds, and is belated joining the fight against ISIS in Syria. He survived a coup attempt in 2016 and is now seeking to change Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential governmental system.

The Kurds

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Female fighters of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), a branch of the Kurdish YPG fighting ISIS in Syria. Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

In the eyes of the Turkish authorities, perhaps the most pressing regional concern is the Kurds (8). The Kurds are an ethnic group that reside mostly in a contiguous area spanning south-eastern Turkey, northern Syria and Iraq, as well as north-western Iran (9). At around 30 million people the Kurds are one of the largest ‘stateless nations’ by population. Kurds form around 18% of Turkey’s population and are ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct from ethnic Turks (9). The Kurdish issue has been a major source of disharmony within Turkey; several movements for greater Kurdish autonomy have occurred throughout history, stretching back to the time of the Ottoman Empire (8). The Turkish government does not recognise the Kurds as a distinct group, instead calling them ‘Mountain Turks’ (9).

Since 1978 the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has waged a bloody civil war for greater Kurdish rights that has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 people (10). The PKK uses kidnappings, armed raids and terrorist attacks, such as bombings, mainly against Turkish security forces (11). The Turkish authorities have responded with airstrikes, arrests and torture (11). The PKK is designated a terror organisation by Turkey and NATO, although not by the UN (12).

In 2013 the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire (8). However, in late 2014 the Turkish government delayed the delivery of a shipment of weapons to Kurdish Democratic Union Party/People’s Protection Units (PYD/YPG) forces in Syria fighting ISIS in the city of Kobani. Ensuing anti-government riots left 35 people dead (8). These actions drove more Kurds away from Erdoğan’s AKP towards the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). In June 2015 that animosity helped the HDP overcome Turkey’s 10% election threshold, denying the AKP a parliamentary majority (13). This, combined with the expansion of Kurdish territory in Syria by the YPG (a PKK ally), ended the ceasefire the next month. Turkey began airstrikes against PKK positions in Iraq and detained many suspected PKK members (14).

In Syria, a large part of Turkey’s strategy is to limit attempts by Kurdish forces to establish territory along Syria’s Turkish border (8). As Kurdish forces extended their territory the Turkish government became increasingly alarmed. In 2014 the autonomous Kurdish state of Rojava was declared, and in September of that year Kurdish and US forces combined to repel ISIS from the city of Kobani (15). This was a double blow for Turkey, which had long pushed for the Kurds to be excluded from any anti-ISIS coalition (15). Against Turkey’s wishes, though, the Kurds have become key allies for the US against ISIS, due in part to the paucity of non-Islamist alternatives. Turkey warned that any attempt by Kurdish forces to link the two separate areas of Rojava into one contiguous zone would prompt military action (17).

In mid-2015 the PYD/YPG were able to extend their territory to include the city of Tel Abyad and the east bank of the Euphrates River (18). This meant that a thin strip of land around the city of Jarabulus, between the two PYD/YPG-controlled areas, became strategically crucial. For ISIS it remained their last direct access to the Turkish border, the entry point for fighters and supplies. For Turkey, it was the final chance to prevent Kurdish forces from joining together.

In December 2015 Kurdish forces crossed the Euphrates, the ‘red line’ that Turkey had previously warned would lead to military action (17). Operation Euphrates Shield was launched by the Turkish military and associated rebel groups in August 2016 (19). Turkish forces and their allies drove south from the Turkish border, capturing the city of Jarabulus. By February 2017 Turkish-backed rebels had taken the city of al-Bab from ISIS. They then proceeded to advance on the city of Manbij, south of Jarabulus (20). Manbij is held by forces loyal to the PYD/YPG who show no intention of surrendering control to Turkish and its allies (21). Whilst Turkey is demanding the YPG withdraw from Manbij back across the Euphrates, it seems unlikely that it will back up its demands with direct military action. Turkey’s goals for Operation Euphrates Shield have largely been accomplished, driving a wedge between the two Kurdish-controlled regions.

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Zones of control in the Syrian Civil War, showing the Turkish-controlled zone (blue) around the city of Jarabulus splitting the two Kurdish-held zones (yellow). Source: syriancivilwarmap.com, retrieved 8/3/2017.

Turkey views the PKK and its ally the PYD/YPG as its main security threat and will do anything to prevent them from gaining more leverage. This ranges from supporting the main anti-PKK group in Iraq to supporting Islamist and jihadi groups fighting against the YPG in Syria (8). It also means that Turkey has been unwilling to take decisive action against ISIS, which is fighting against the Kurds. ISIS has been seen as a short-term threat, whilst the Kurds are a long-term threat to the Turkish government. All Turkish action in Syria must be seen through the lens of the perceived Kurdish threat.

Syria and ISIS

Turkey has had two main goals in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. The first is to oust leader Bashar al-Assad and install a Sunni-led government more amenable to Turkey’s wishes. The second is to prevent Kurdish groups from establishing a contiguous Kurdish zone of influence along Turkey’s border. Whilst the second goal is taking increasing precedence, Erdoğan’s dreams of establishing a Sunni hegemon were effectively ended by the Russian entry into the conflict.

In line with the increasingly Sunni Islamist identity of Turkey’s AKP-led government, Erdoğan saw an opportunity in the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’ protests to reshape the Middle East (22). Sunnis make up around 90% of the Middle East’s Muslim population (23). In Syria, although they are the majority, Sunnis do not hold political power. Instead, the country has been ruled by the Assad family, part of the Shia Alawite minority (24). Erdoğan’s vision was to support the interests of Sunni groups across the Middle East, putting Sunnis into power in Syria and supporting Sunni Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (22). Turkey began supporting anti-Assad groups as the protests descended into civil war, including training the Free Syrian Army (22). The conflict quickly became a proxy war, with the Assad regime propped up by Iran and long-time ally Russia, and opposed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia (25).

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Russian involvement in Syria threatened Erdoğan’s regional ambitions. Photo credit: AFP

Russian support for the Assad regime became much more overt in late 2015. Russia and Turkey, both run by authoritarian leaders with a similar worldview, had previously had a close relationship. Russia supplied oil and gas to Turkey across the Black Sea, and Russian holidaymakers formed an important part of Turkey’s tourism economy. Turkish food, chemicals and textiles were exported to Russia (26). These close ties were strengthened as Erdoğan moved away from the EU and towards Putin’s Russia, and were maintained despite the two countries having opposing goals in the Syria conflict.

Russian planes began bombing Turkish-backed opposition groups, including ethnic Turkmen, in November 2015 (26). Such direct Russian military action in support of the Assad regime threatened Erdoğan’s attempts to influence events in Syria. The bombing of the Turkmen became, via the pro-Erdoğan media, almost an attack on Turkey itself (26). On the 24th November Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian plane which, it was claimed, had violated Turkish airspace. Initially belligerent and unapologetic, Erdoğan had to change his tune after Russian economic sanctions started to bite. He blamed his prime minister for ordering the attack, and wrote letters to Putin to apologise and express his wish for a return to better relations. Erdoğan’s attempt at standing up to Putin had failed; Turkey was hit economically, and Russia declared Syrian airspace a ‘no-fly zone’ for the Turkish air force (26). Russian support now means that regime change in Syria is increasingly unlikely.

ISIS was seen in Turkey as a counter to Kurdish influence in Syria (8). Turkey, a NATO member and supposedly on the frontline of the fight against ISIS, initially made only token efforts at combating the group. This lukewarm attitude even strayed into outright support, according to some sources. It is known that Turkey has provided support to other Sunni jihadist groups within Syria, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra (8), and is seen as a gateway to Syria for fighters and supplies (28). Turkey has been accused of facilitating the movement of fighters and supplies into Syria (28), and even of treating wounded ISIS fighters in Turkish hospitals (29). It is claimed that much of ISIS’s oil is exported illegally through Iraq into southern Turkey (30). Kurdish groups also claim that Turkey let ISIS cross the Turkish border to attack Kobani (31). Although the government denies these claims, it is easy to see the advantages for Turkey of supporting anti-Kurdish forces in Syria.

Despite Turkey’s initial reluctance to take real action against ISIS, in recent years tensions between the two have escalated. Turkey has been the target of repeated ISIS attacks designed to inflame tensions and create schisms within the country. The 2015 Suruç bombing reignited the civil war against the PKK (8). The 2016 New Years’ Eve bombing of the Reina nightclub aimed to cause divisions between Turkey’s secular and Islamist communities (32). Numerous other attacks, the kidnapping of Turkish diplomats by ISIS (33), the desire to prevent Kurdish gains around the ISIS-held city of Jarabulus (16) and closer cooperation with the US and Europe all helped force the Turkish government into a stronger anti-ISIS position. In July 2015 Turkey allowed the US to use Incirlik Air Base in its campaign against ISIS (8). At the same time the Turkish Air Force carried out airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria, the first since the shooting down of the Russian plane in November 2015. That year also saw around 1200 people arrested in Turkey for suspected ISIS links. Turkish measures against ISIS have increased since then, with Operation Euphrates Shield targeted directly at the ISIS-held cities of Jarabulus and al-Bab (16). As always, though, Syrian Kurdish forces claim that these attacks are simply a ploy to hinder their plans for a contiguous Kurdish autonomous zone.

Turkey has also taken in the largest number of Syrian refugees, with the UN Refugee Agency estimating around 2.75 million Syrian refugees in the country by 2017 (34). In early 2016 the EU struck a deal with Turkey to prevent asylum seekers crossing from Turkey to Greece, worth around €6 billion to Turkey (35). Although access to education and work permits is difficult for Syrian refugees in Turkey (36), the country is doing far more than others, such as many European countries, to tackle the refugee crisis.

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Syrian refugees at Karkamiş refugee camp in Turkey, January 2014. Turkey currently has approximately 2.75 million Syrian refugees. Photo credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

The 2016 Coup

At 10 PM on the evening of Friday 15th July 2016 the Turkish military declared through state media that the military had taken control of the country (2). This, the military claimed, was to prevent the continuing erosion of Turkey’s secular traditions by Erdoğan’s government (37). Troops were deployed in Istanbul and the capital Ankara, seizing key locations such as media organisations, airports and bridges. Civilians were told to return to their homes (38). Two hours later, however, Erdoğan appeared on television via ‘Facetime’, urging people out onto the streets to oppose the military (38). Although there were reports of gunfire and helicopters flying over the seaside resort where Erdoğan was staying, the plotters did not capture the president. They were also unable to effectively shut down the internet or other communications networks. By Saturday morning the danger seemed to be over, with Erdoğan angrily denouncing the coup attempt, blaming ‘Gülenists’, and vowing to punish those responsible (2). The Turkish people, it seemed, had rejected the military’s attempt to subvert democracy. Government retribution was extremely swift, with thousands of judges, military personnel and others removed from their positions, ostensibly for their links to the ‘Gülenist’ plot (2).

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Turkish military units block the Bosphorus Bridge during the failed coup attempt. The bridge has subsequently been renamed the ‘July 15th Martyrs Bridge’. Photo credit: Getty Images

Erdoğan’s government has accused Fethullah Gülen, leader of the ‘Hizmet’ (Service) Movement, of being responsible for the coup (38). Gülen, who has been resident in the United States for the past 18 years, runs an Islamic movement that, until recently, had a large representation within the Turkish government and military (39). Since the 1970s, followers of Gülen have attempted to covertly position themselves in key roles within civil institutions, especially the bureaucracy, the military and the judiciary (39). Gülen’s detractors claim that these actions amount to a ‘slow-motion coup’, as Gülenists take control of civil institutions from the inside. Hizmet also runs a network of schools around the world, emphasising Gülen’s own Islamist views (39).

Erdoğan’s AKP party worked closely with the Gülenists early in its rule (39). The influence of the Gülenists within the state apparatus was useful to the AKP, which was at its heart a grassroots political movement with limited representation in Turkey’s civil institutions (39). These ties broke down in 2013, when a massive corruption scandal broke as part of the ‘Ergenekon’ trials, implicating Erdoğan himself and many of his high-level ministers (2). Erdoğan blamed pro-Gülenist judges and police officers for trying to undermine his government (2). By May 2016 Hizmet had been labelled a terror group by Turkey (40).  Whilst Erdoğan blames Gülen and has demanded that the US extradites him to face trial in Turkey, the government is yet to produce any real evidence of his involvement in the coup attempt (41).

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Fethullah Gülen, accused by Erdoğan of masterminding the coup attempt. Photo credit: Reuters

Whilst Gülen’s personal involvement is questionable, the coup had support amongst at least some senior military officials. As discussed above, there is significant tension between the military and the AKP-led government, as many in the military hold strong Kemalist beliefs. Erdoğan had previously weakened the ability of the military to interfere in civilian affairs. This was done by increasing the AKP’s control of the judiciary and through a number of high-profile court cases, namely ‘Ergenekon’ and ‘Sledgehammer’, which led to the arrest and removal of a number of high-ranking military officers (2). Despite these measures the military remains a powerful institution, and antagonism with the government may have led some officers to act. A leaked report from IntCen, the EU’s intelligence-sharing unit, stated that “It is likely that a group of officers comprising Gülenists, Kemalists, opponents of the AKP and opportunists was behind the coup. It is unlikely that Gülen himself played a role.” (42). An upcoming purge of high-ranking military officials in August 2016 was probably a contributing factor, with many officers facing removal from their positions (42).

The coup was poorly executed, and Erdoğan has used it to increase his own power and popularity, leading some opponents to claim that the government knew about the coup beforehand and used it to their own advantage (43). The plotters did not take the basic measures necessary for a coup to be successful; they did not secure Erdoğan or his closest supporters, they did not shut down the communications networks, and they began the coup too early, allowing Erdoğan to rally supporters into the streets (44). Most coups occur very early in the morning to prevent large-scale resistance by the public.

The plotters learnt at 4 PM on Friday 15th that Turkish Intelligence (MIT) was aware of the plot, forcing them to bring the start time forward (44). One of the leading generals was killed early on by a loyalist officer, throwing the plot into disarray (45). The plotters took over some media outlets but were unable to close down others (45). The government was able to send text messages to its citizens, and imams used mosque’s loudspeakers to urge people onto the streets to resist the military (46). These measures were hugely successful in mobilising people against the military.

It is odd that in a country with a history like Turkey’s the MIT was unaware of the plot until hours before it was due to start. It is possible that the government knew of the plot and took steps to ensure it failed, such as forcing the coup to start early and bringing key military figures onto their side. This is, of course, only speculation at this time, although the government’s response was extremely quick and thorough. State media announced that 2745 judges had been arrested by the following afternoon (47). Close to 3000 military personnel were also arrested (47). What followed was a purge of ‘Gülenists’ from all state institutions, including the education, police, judicial, military and bureaucratic sectors (39). Dissenting news outlets were shut down and reporters and anti-government protesters were jailed. Some 40,000 people had been jailed by January 2017 and the state of emergency, declared after the coup, has been extended to at least April 2017 (48). Whoever was behind the coup, it is Erdoğan and his government that are the clear winners.

A New Presidential System

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Unveiled by Erdoğan shortly after becoming president in 2014, the 1000-room ‘Presidential Complex’ is a symbol of Turkey’s new executive presidency. Photo credit: Getty Images

The office of President of Turkey has historically been a ceremonial role, with little power and, supposedly, no links to any political party (1). Erdoğan, however, has long seen an executive presidency as a vehicle for realising his authoritarian ambitions (1).

In August 2007, whilst still serving as prime minister, Erdoğan took his first step towards increasing the power of the president. A few months earlier, in May, the military had blocked the AKP’s choice for president because of his Islamist views (49). Erdoğan, riding a wave of popular support, called snap elections, which confirmed his popular mandate. Snubbing the military, the AKP installed its preferred candidate as president (49). Taking advantage of their strong position the AKP called for a referendum on the presidential voting system, which changed the voting for president from a parliamentary vote to a direct popular vote (50).

The military took its case to the Constitutional Court, which narrowly voted against banning the AKP for being anti-secular (2). In 2010 Turkish voters approved changes to the Constitutional Court that increased the number of judges to 17, elected by the president (2). This gave the new AKP-affiliated president effective control over the judiciary whilst also reducing the influence of the military.

Erdoğan finally became president in August 2014, by direct election. He quickly unveiled his new Presidential Palace, a 1000 room, $650 million mansion which he declared as the new seat of the government (1). It was a clear signal, symbolising Erdoğan’s desire to elevate the power of the President as the true head of the government.

Erdoğan also set about weakening the position of prime minister in order to further bolster his power. His prime minister at the time, Ahmet Davutoğlu, was expected to be subservient to Erdoğan. However Davutoğlu defied Erdoğan on several issues, such as opposing the pre-trial imprisonment of journalist and academics, and hinting at a possible peace deal with the Kurds (2). Erdoğan reacted by removing the ability of the prime minister to appoint provincial officials and by holding cabinet meetings in his new presidential palace (2). No one was in any doubt that true power lay with Erdoğan despite the supposed ceremonial nature of his role. In May 2016 Davutoğlu resigned from his position only half way through his four-year term, to be replaced by Binali Yildirim, a prime minister more amenable to Erdoğan’s wishes (2).

The 2015 elections, in which the HDP denied the AKP a majority, were an important juncture for President Erdoğan. The AKP’s emphatic response laid the groundwork for Erdoğan to consolidate his power as president. With the help of affiliated political parties the AKP lifted immunity from prosecution for members of parliament (51). Members of the pro-Kurdish HDP party were subsequently jailed (51). Weakening the HDP, combined with the suppression of anti-government media and the resumption of fighting against the PKK, helped the AKP to regain their parliamentary majority in November 2015 (52). The way was now clear to change Turkey’s government from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

 On January 21st 2017 the Turkish Parliament passed a constitutional amendment bill which would effectively convert Turkey into a presidential governmental system (53). The president will become head of state and of the government, able to appoint and sack ministers. Parliament’s power will be weakened, and the office of prime minister will be abolished (53). A referendum on the bill will be held on Sunday 16th April 2017. Under the proposed bill Erdoğan could remain in power until 2029. Erdoğan argues that he is the only solution to Turkey’s problems, pointing to the failed coup in 2016, the threat of ‘deep-state’ Gülenists, the PKK and ISIS terrorist attacks (53). He maintains that with him as president Turkey will get some much-needed stability and economic prosperity. His opponents counter that the amendment moves Turkey further away from the core values of democracy and blurs the line between Erdoğan, the AKP and the state (53).

Conclusion

Whilst Turkey has seen a lot of changes under Erdoğan and the AKP, many of the issues facing the country today are not new. Tensions between the Islamist and secular sections of Turkish society go back to the time of Atatürk, and the issue of Kurdish rights goes back even further. There are several differences, however. This is possibly the first time that the civilian government has had the upper hand in the power struggle with the military. The effects of the ‘Arab Spring’, too, will affect Turkey for years to come.

Looking forward we can expect to see Turkey intensify the fight against the PKK in Turkey and Iraq as Kurdish forces strengthen their position in Syria. Turkey will do whatever it can to prevent the two Kurdish-controlled zones in Syria from linking up, as it has already shown with Operation Euphrates Shield. If, as seems likely, Bashar al-Assad’s regime survives the civil war, Turkey will push hard against any attempts at giving the Kurds greater autonomy in Syria, as happened in Iraq after the 2003 invasion (54). Turkey would certainly be a willing supporter if the Syrian regime were to try and regain control over the Kurdish-controlled areas. Until a definitive conclusion to the war is reached, however, Turkey will continue to fund anti-Assad forces in Syria even if it has, belatedly, joined the fight against ISIS. Turkey will also continue to re-establish its close ties to Russia due to its economic dependence and its political isolation from the EU (55).

At home Erdoğan is in a strong position. The 2015 election setback and the 2016 coup attempt, far from being a handicap, have acted as a springboard to greater power and popularity. Another coup attempt, while possible, now seems less likely with the purging of Gülenists and Kemalists from the military, and the overall weakening of the military’s ability to interfere in politics.

Opponents of the AKP may have wished the coup was successful, but for the stability of Turkey and the surrounding region, including Europe, it is important that it failed. Erdoğan and the AKP enjoy massive support across the country, and a successful coup could have easily sparked (another) civil war (56).

The rhetoric we have heard coming out of Turkey in the last few days is designed to drum up support amongst Turkish nationalists and the Turkish diaspora ahead of the upcoming constitutional referendum. If past referendums are reliable indicators the amendment will be approved by the Turkish people. A shift to an executive presidential system would be seen by some as the end of democracy in Turkey. It is worth pointing out, however, that all of the big changes undertaken by Erdoğan and the AKP have been achieved by popular vote, through referendums and local and parliamentary elections. The caveat, of course, is that the government controls a large section of the media, suppresses any negative press, and has jailed political opponents.

The upcoming referendum represents something of a crossroads for Turkey. If successful we could see Erdoğan in power until at least 2029, with all the consequences that entails. Failure would amount to a rejection of Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism making his future, and that of the AKP, a lot less certain. We should all watch events in Turkey carefully in the coming months.

References

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(26) With Friends Like These: Turkey, Russia and the End of an Unlikely Alliance. Asli Aydintasbas, European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2016. ecfr.eu/page/-/WITH_FRIENDS_LIKE_THESE_-_ECFR178.pdf
(27) Turkey Is in Serious Trouble. Soner Cagaptay, The Atlantic, 15 October 2015.
(28) Turkey paying price for jihadist highway on border. Kadri Gursel, al-Monitor, 13 June 2014. al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/06/gursel-al-qaeda-isis-turkey-mosul-iraq-syria-consulate.html
(29) ISIS commander treated in Turkish hospital ‘like all other citizens’. Serken Senturk, Russia Today, 7 March 2013. rt.com/news/238713-isis-commander-turkey-hospital/
(30) Exclusive: WikiLeaks documents highlight sinister relations between Erdogan and ISIS. Thanos Kamilalis, The Press Project, 5 December 2016. thepressproject.gr/article/103870/exclusive-wikileaks-documents-relations-erdogan-ISIS-oil-smuggling
(31) Turkey ‘let Isil cross border to attack Kobane’: as it happened. Andrew Marszal, Louisa Loveluck, The Telegraph, 25 June 2015. telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11697764/Isil-reenters-key-Syria-border-town-of-Kobane-live.html
(32) An attack on an Istanbul nightclub widens the secular-religious divide. The Economist, 7 January 2017. economist.com/news/europe/21713845-islamic-state-exploiting-tensions-turkish-society-attack-istanbul-nightclub-widens
(33) Criticism mounts on Erdogan over ISIL kidnapping of Turkey hostages. AFP, Middle East Eye, 17 June 2014. middleeasteye.net/news/criticism-mounts-erdogan-over-isil-kidnapping-turkey-hostages-558759746
(34) UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). reporting.unhcr.org/node/2544
(35) EU-Turkey Statement: Questions and Answers. European Commision Fact Sheet, 19 March 2016. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-963_en.htm
(36) Education for Syrian Refugee Children: What Donors and Host Countries Should Do. Human Rights Watch, 16 September 2016. hrw.org/news/2016/09/16/education-syrian-refugee-children-what-donors-and-host-countries-should-do
(37) Military coup attempted in Turkey against Erdoğan government. Patrick Kingsley, Gaith Abdul-Ahad, The Guardian, 16 July 2016. theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/15/turkey-coup-attempt-military-ankara-istanbul
(38) Military Coup in Turkey. internationalrelations.org, 24 July 2016. internationalrelations.org/military-coup-in-turkey/
 (39) The Good, The Bad and The Gulenists: The Role of the Gulenists in Turkey’s Coup Attempt. Asli Aydintasbas, European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2016.
(40) Turkey officially designates Gulen religious group as terrorists. Reuters, 31 May 2016. reuters.com/article/us-turkey-gulen-idUSKCN0YM167
(41) US Urges Turkey to Provide ‘Evidence’ of Gulen Plot. Mehreen Khan, Financial Times, 18 July 2016. ft.com/content/e56c2f20-fc5b-3b31-9048-38caff9af815
(42) Erdogan plotted purge before coup, say Brussels spies. Bruno Waterfield, The Times, 17 January 2017. thetimes.co.uk/article/erdogan-plotted-purge-before-coup-say-brussels-spies-2hh8mgx6h
(43) Turkey coup: Conspiracy theorists claim power grab attempt was faked by Erdogan. Adam Lusher, The Independent, 16 July 2016. independent.co.uk/news/world/turkey-coup-conspiracy-theory-erdogan-military-gift-from-god-soldiers-istanbul-a7140516.html
(44) How Turkey Invited and Then Quashed an Attempted Coup: the Inside Scoop. Craig Shaw, Ahmed Sik, The Correspondent, 21 July 2016. thecorrespondent.com/4972/how-turkey-invited-and-then-quashed-an-attempted-coup-the-inside-scoop/1300816787644-095a0b2f
(45) How they blew the coup. Anonymous reporter, al-Monitor, 20 July 2016. al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/turkey-coup-attempt-intelligence-agency-thwart.html
(46) How Erdogan turned to social media to help foil coup in Turkey. Merhul Srivastava, Financial Times, 16 July 2016. ft.com/content/3ab2a66c-4b59-11e6-88c5-db83e98a590a
(47) Turkey: Mass arrests after coup bid quashed, says PM. BBC News, 16 July 2016. bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36813924(48) Turkey extends state of emergency by three months. Deutsche Welle, 4 January 2017. dw.com/en/turkey-extends-state-of-emergency-by-three-months/a-36994046
(49) Justice and Development Party (AKP). Globalsecurity.org, 2013. globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/tu-political-party-akp.htm
(50) Turkey’s first five referendums: A look back. Hurriyet Daily News, 28 July 2010. hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-first-five-referendums-a-look-back.aspx?pageID=438&n=the-five-referendums-in-the-history-of-turkey-2010-07-28
(51) Turkey arrests pro-Kurdish party leaders amid claims of internet shutdown. Kareem Shaheen, The Guardian, 4 November 2016. theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/04/turkey-arrests-pro-kurdish-party-leaders-mps
(52) Freedom in the World 2016. Freedom House, 2016. freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2016/turkey
(53) Turkey constitutional changes: what are they, how did they come about and how are they different? Dominique Soguel, The Independent, 21 January 2017. independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkey-president-recep-tayyip-erdogan-referendum-constitutional-reform-a7539286.html
(54) The Kurds in Post-Saddam Iraq. Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service, 1 October 2010. fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS22079.pdf
(55) Vladimir Putin’s Grim Win. Adnan R Khan, Macleans, 20 December 2016. macleans.ca/news/world/a-grim-win-for-vladimir-putin
(56) Erdogan will be stronger after the failed coup, but Turkey could be the loser. Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, 22 July 2016.
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