The American newspaper of the National Interest has published a report on the stages of Erdogan’s governance of Turkey, which are divided into two parts according to the newspaper.
The newspaper sees that in the first half, which lasted eight years and four months, he was brilliant. He oversaw unprecedented economic growth and regional influence.
The newspaper nots that Erdoğan’s astute leadership early on attracted a quite diverse group of leaders, such as the country’s most powerful Islamist figure, Fethullah Gülen, and its leading Islamist politician, Abdullah Gül. It also attracted skilled technical figures such as the economic sage Ali Babacan and the foreign policy guru Ahmet Davutoğlu. Today, these four are all Erdoğan’s foes, justifiably opposing him for his excesses.
The newspaper indicates that Erdoğan’s first era saw impressive economic growth, but those glory years are now a receding memory, mostly due to Erdoğan’s own shortcomings: his kleptocratic ways, his nepotism (a son-in-law serves as minister of finance).
In particular, Erdogan insists, against all evidence, that high-interest rates lead to high inflation. Symptomatic of these errors, the Turkish lira lost almost three-quarters of its value, sliding from .61 cents in July 2011 to .17 cents today.
In foreign policy, a once-impressive “zero problems with the neighbors” regional approach has degraded into a dismal “nothing but problems with neighbors”. Syria offers the most dramatic shift: before July 2011, relations between Ankara and Damascus reached unprecedented highs. The halfway mark of Erdoğan’s tenure then saw relations deteriorate, leading to Turkey’s sponsorship of ISIS, its shutting off 40 percent of the water flowing into Syria, and finally an invasion of the country’s northeast. Beyond Damascus, relations are toxic with Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jerusalem, and Cairo.
The newspaper wandered: Whither Turkey? Storms loom, with two dangers standing out: the economy and foreign policy. Should he persist, as seems likely, in his nonsensical theory about interest rates, plus continue to alienate Western economic powers, he will either lead Turkey to disaster.
The newspaper also sees that Foreign policy poses the other great danger. Abducting dissident Turkish citizens, drilling in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, and invading a neighbor point to an arrogance that, given Erdoğan’s isolated position, leaves him highly exposed.
Some foreign misadventure—perhaps the Syrian one—could lead to his political demise as well as that of the AKP.