Caught between a rock and a tough place, Erdogan seeks a approach out

33


Nov 21, 2020

Developments at home and overseas are forcing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to hunt a recent course geared toward delivering Turkey from its present financial morass and debilitating political isolation within the West.

Having sacrificed his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, the previous finance and treasury minister, on the altar of a “new beginning,” Erdogan is casting himself now as an financial and judicial reformist who will overcome Turkey’s woes.

Erdogan has additionally introduced that his administration is engaged on a brand new “human rights action plan” so as, as he put it, to be extra in keeping with the altering circumstances of at present’s world.

All of this means an effort by Ankara at reengaging with the identical West that Erdogan and his supporters have been vilifying for years. 

With the Turkish lira recouping some critical losses almost instantly after Erdogan accepted the resignation of Albayrak — who was a lot berated for grossly mismanaging the economic system — some imagine Turkey is certainly on the cusp of constructive change.

Nevertheless, Erdogan faces an uphill battle of his personal making. Many imagine he’ll in the end fail to ship on his phrases since this might actually require him to disclaim all that he has insisted on till now.

Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was a key member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) however now heads the opposition Future Party, was cynical in his response to Erdogan’s reform announcement.

During an handle to his supporters, Davutoglu stated it was as if a brand new authorities had come to energy and was bemoaning the wreck it had inherited from others after years of mismanagement. 

Davutoglu known as on Erdogan to “do the opposite of all that he said and did until yesterday” if he needs to provoke a real mobilization for reforms. 

Despite the skepticism of Davutoglu and those that assume like him, Erdogan has few selections however to try to do one thing, given Turkey’s deepening financial disaster. 

He has to vastly enhance Turkey’s severely tarnished worldwide picture as a way to appeal to much-needed international capital. This can even require an overhaul and transformation in his approach to international coverage.

Erdogan is aware of deep down that judicial reform and convincing enhancements in Ankara’s appalling human rights document are conditions if he needs a brand new web page in Turkey’s relations with the West.

The very important significance of sustaining good ties with the United States and Europe as a way to safe Turkey’s long-term pursuits seems to have additionally dawned on a few of Erdogan’s most devoted acolytes.

A stark instance is Cem Kucuk, a columnist for the pro-government Turkiye each day recognized for his acerbic assaults on Erdogan’s home and international critics.

Arguing that though Turkey is a predominantly Muslim nation it has all the time seemed to the West, and emphasizing the folly of counting on Russia, Kucuk put the matter in a nutshell following Erdogan’s reform announcement.

“The money is in the West. There is nothing in the East,” Kucuk wrote.

He added, “Just as we are on the verge of a new period domestically we could also see a new period open up with Europe and America.” 

Such hopeful remarks and the help for Erdogan’s reform announcement by the pro-government media recommend a gradual change of mindset in quarters that till not too long ago noticed the West because the supply of all of Turkey’s troubles.

The outcomes of the US presidential election are additionally serving to focus minds in Ankara, provided that President-elect Joe Biden has brazenly declared his intention to put democracy and human rights excessive on his record of priorities in coping with Turkey.

Recent developments additionally present that the United States, France and Germany, with help from different Western international locations, have concluded that Turkey is an issue they must work collectively to deal with.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made this abundantly clear in an interview with the French paper Le Figaro after assembly French President Emmanuel Macron on Nov. 16.

“[President] Macron and I agree that Turkey’s recent actions have been very aggressive,” Pompeo stated in his interview. 

He was referring to Ankara’s army actions within the Nagorno-Karabakh battle, in Libya and within the jap Mediterranean.

“Europe and the US must work together to convince Erdogan such actions are not in the interest of his people,” Pompeo added.

Adding to the strain on Turkey, Pompeo additionally delivered a significant snub to Ankara this week by visiting Istanbul, the place he solely met with the Greek Orthodox patriarch, and refused to exit of his option to meet any authorities officers.

France and Germany despatched a equally harsh message to Ankara in October, warning it of dire penalties if it didn’t cease its provocative actions in opposition to EU members.

“It’s clear to us that Turkey is permanently carrying out provocative acts which are unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated throughout a joint press convention in Paris along with his German counterpart Heiko Maas. 

He was referring to Turkey’s standoff with Greece and Cyprus over vitality exploration rights within the jap Mediterranean, the place Ankara has promised army motion if it deems its pursuits are threatened.

Maas concurred along with his French colleague, saying Turkey’s actions had been “inadmissible.”

Le Drian added threateningly that the EU was prepared to vary the stability of energy if Ankara didn’t change tack inside weeks.

Under regular circumstances, Erdogan would hit again with a bellicosity that goes down effectively along with his anti-Western Islamist and nationalist help base.

The scenario is totally different this time; Turkey has its again to the wall, which leaves little room for Erdogan to behave true to character. He seems to bear in mind that the circle is closing in with dire penalties for Turkey’s already devastated economic system, and for his administration. 

Erdogan’s reliance on Russia to counterbalance his strained ties with the West can also be trying more and more precarious. Differences between Ankara and Moscow over Syria, Libya and the Caucasus have come home to roost. 

The Biden victory within the United States has additionally dashed any hope {that a} new web page might be opened with Washington, with out Turkey having to concede a lot in return, primarily based on the non-public ties Erdogan has established with President Donald Trump.

However, Pompeo’s extremely destructive approach to Turkey signifies that this will not have been a sensible expectation to begin with.

“Although there is talk about warm telephone diplomacy between Trump and Erdogan, this relationship never found its reflection on the field,” stated international coverage and protection analyst Naim Baburoglu in an interview with the Russian Sputnik company. 

Baburoglu stated he doesn’t imagine Pompeo’s destructive stance on Turkey is unbiased of the Trump administration’s place. 

“This is nothing but the US administration giving up on Turkey,” he stated. 

Erdogan now has to take care of Biden, whether or not he likes it or not, and lots of in Ankara know that this is not going to be a simple job except a recent approach is initiated.

Political analyst Murat Yetkin stated he believes Biden’s election additionally performed a task in pushing Erdogan to announce his new reforms. 

Erdogan “finally saw that the way to recover the economy was to find a new basis for relations with the US and the EU,” Yetkin wrote in his extremely cited weblog Yetkin Report. 

How far Erdogan’s reform bundle can go as he tries to appease the West, whereas retaining his political credibility at home, stays the large unknown for a lot of analysts. 

Yetkin is amongst those that doubt that Erdogan can do a lot below the present presidential system.

“A strong parliament, an independent judiciary and an independent press are needed. … Erdogan’s reforms are just words hanging in the air, he is not sincere,” Yetkin stated.