Erdoğan's Next Steps

While his grip on power remains secure, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdoğan's handling of recent protests could threaten his Kurdish peace plan, damage his image in the Arab world, and complicate relations with the EU and the US. In other words, the protests' long-term impact will depend largely on Erdoğan himself.

WASHINGTON, DC – Widespread demonstrations sparked by the Turkish government’s plan to build a mall and a replica of an Ottoman-era army barracks in Istanbul’s Gezi Park seem to have ebbed after Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdoğan met with the protesters’ representatives and, subsequently, ordered demonstrators to disperse. But, while the tear-gas fumes in Taksim Square may be dissipating, lingering questions about the protests there could have broader implications for Erdoğan’s agenda – and for Turkey’s political and social evolution.

Contrary to what Erdoğan seems to believe, the protests were more than a spontaneous outburst of pent-up rage by a motley group of malcontents. And the government-ordered police crackdown – which, in addition to tear gas, included the use of water cannon and rubber bullets, as well as the detention of demonstrators, journalists, and medics – has tarnished Erdoğan’s image at home and abroad.

Nevertheless, it would be premature to write Erdoğan off, as some Western commentators have been tempted to do. After all, there is currently no viable alternative in Turkey to his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. The opposition Republican People’s Party has not won an election in four decades, owing largely to its failure to extend its voter base beyond its secular core. The AKP, by contrast, has won the last three elections and is expected to triumph in next year’s poll, as well.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Angela Merkel’s Endgame?

    The collapse of coalition negotiations has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a stark choice between forming a minority government or calling for a new election. But would a minority government necessarily be as bad as Germans have traditionally thought?

  2. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.

  3. A GrabBike rider uses his mobile phone Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images

    The Platform Economy

    While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy.

  4. Trump Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Profiles in Discouragement

    One day, the United States will turn the page on Donald Trump. But, as Americans prepare to observe their Thanksgiving holiday, they should reflect that their country's culture and global standing will never recover fully from the wounds that his presidency is inflicting on them.

  5. Mugabe kisses Grace JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

    How Women Shape Coups

    In Zimbabwe, as in all coups, much behind-the-scenes plotting continues to take place in the aftermath of the military's overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. But who the eventual winners and losers are may depend, among other things, on the gender of the plotters.

  6. Oil barrels Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty Images

    The Abnormality of Oil

    At the 2017 Abu Dhabi Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the consensus among industry executives was that oil prices will still be around $60 per barrel in November 2018. But there is evidence to suggest that the uptick in global growth and developments in Saudi Arabia will push the price as high as $80 in the meantime.

  7. Israeli soldier Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

    The Saudi Prince’s Dangerous War Games

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working hard to consolidate power and establish his country as the Middle East’s only hegemon. But his efforts – which include an attempt to trigger a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon – increasingly look like the work of an immature gambler.