By Reuben Silverman
January 12, 2024
On the eve of Turkey’s centennial anniversary celebrations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a mass rally in support of Palestine. He reminded his audience that, only a century earlier, Gaza had been part of the Ottoman Empire. He condemned Israel’s government and criticized the West for remaining silent in the face of Israel’s retaliatory killing of civilians, wondering if it wanted to encourage conflict between “crescent and cross.” Yet, while this heated rhetoric positions Turkey as the ultimate opponent of Israeli expansionism and protector of Palestinians, it obscures on-going Turkish-Israeli relations and the strategic interests that may limit Erdoğan’s actual diplomatic options.
By Barış Soydan
September 8, 2023
Hailed by markets as the “savior” of the Turkish economy, Mehmet Şimşek has in fact launched policies whose price will be borne by large segments of the public. Tax hikes, although narrowing the budget deficit, will further fuel inflation, increasing poverty. In this respect, the new fiscal policy resurrects the paradigm that guided the IMF program in 2001. However, staying true to the spirit of the IMF program is a recipe for political troubles ahead for the Erdoğan regime. With municipal elections due in March 2024, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may therefore well conclude that “heterodox” economic policies will have to be resurrected.
By Barçın Yinanç
August 17, 2023
It is naïve to expect Turkey to distance itself from Russia. As in the past, Turkish-Russian cooperation will go hand in hand with competition as the two leaders cannot afford to sever their ties. Erdoğan is unlikely to pivot to the West at the expense of turning his back to Putin. He is likely to continue his careful balancing act between Russia and the West. While there are reasons that impel Erdoğan to improve Turkey’s relations with its Western partners, the Turkish president must in fact also make sure to nurture the relationship with Russia. Erdoğan will use the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership and his ties to Putin as leverage on the EU.
By Reuben Silverman
June 14, 2023
During more than twelve years as director of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Hakan Fidan played a central role in expanding Turkey’s regional influence. From the Syrian Civil War to the government’s global crackdown on the Fethullah Gülen movement, he was involved in shaping and implementing major policies. His appointment as foreign minister on June 4, following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reelection, is meant to signal a return to more unified, consistent diplomacy following a decade of uncertainty. The appointment of Fidan may also be part of an effort to present a “moderate” image to international institutions and not least to the United States.
By Halil Karaveli
May 23, 2023
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s failure in the first round of Turkey’s presidential election is a testimony to the waning appeal of liberalism in the face of ethnic conflict and refugee flows. The Turkish nationalism on which Kılıçdaroğlu has fatefully stumbled is fuelled by the Kurdish challenge and the Syrian refugees. But it is also fed by a heightened sense of national insecurity in a global context of escalating geopolitical confrontation. The virulently nationalist rhetoric against the Syrian refugees that Kılıçdaroğlu has adopted in order to make himself a palatable choice to right wing Turkish nationalists does not necessarily offer him a path to victory. Tarnishing his image as a liberal and social democrat, he risks forfeiting the support of the Kurdish voters as well as the support of Turkish liberals and leftists.
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.