By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
On August 4, 2012, Turkish President Abdullah Gül sought to quell speculation about tensions with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the 2014 presidential election by publicly declaring that their relationship was “bound by the law of brotherhood”. He dismissed questions about whether he was planning to stand for re-election, commenting that two years was a long time. “When the time comes, we shall sit down together, talk and make a joint decision about the best thing to do” he said. However, beneath the fraternal façade, Erdoğan’s ambitions to succeed Gül as president and then replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with a presidential one have seen the already strained relations between the two men deteriorate to the point of mutual hostility, as each maneuvers for advantage in preparation for a potential power struggle.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
After Syria’s downing of a Turkish aircraft over the eastern Mediterranean, the question is not so much why Syria shot it down as why the two neighbors have become embroiled in a confrontation in the first place; more precisely why the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey decided to commit itself to bringing about regime change in Syria, by which it assumed significant risks. That choice speaks of the impact that sectarian reflexes is increasingly having on Ankara’s foreign policy. What beckons enticingly for Turkey’s ruling Sunni conservatives is a pro-Turkish “Sunni crescent”, stretching from Gaza over Syria to northern Iraq. However, Turkey courts danger by assuming the role as a leading Sunni power in the sectarian confrontation in the Middle East.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Turkey’ ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is reverting to its Islamist roots. Flexing his Islamist muscles, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expects to keep the conservative core constituency mobilized behind him. However, the AKP’s new-old Islamism is in fact not in tune with the dynamics of societal change that has upheld its power until now. The attempt to institute another regime of tutelage, this one Islamic, is bound to alienate crucial constituencies for the AKP -- the liberal seculars, obviously, but modern conservatives as well. The AKP seems set to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
By Osman Ulagay (vol. 5, no. 11 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is demonstrating an unwillingness to leave any room in society – be it in the public administration, in the universities, or in the business world, to those who are not its supporters. Although the AKP enjoys broad support, religiously inspired social conservatism nonetheless alienates a substantial part of society, provoking serious tensions in the process. One could thus argue that Turkey is approaching a critical moment. What Turkey needs at this critical juncture is a political alternative that transcends the divides of society and seeks to reconcile differences instead of exacerbating them.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently expressed allegiance to “one nation, one flag, one religion, one state.” Indeed, the Turkish republic recognizes only “one religion”, Sunni Islam, as the basis of the nation. Erdoğan is nonetheless anxious to preserve the image that he has successfully cultivated as the benefactor of the numerically insignificant non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. What the ruling Sunni conservatives have much greater difficulty in reconciling themselves to, is that Turkey, although nominally “99 percent Muslim” is far from being homogenously Sunni Muslim.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.