The editor of the Washington Post talks about the results of local elections in Turkey, which he sees as a referendum on Erdogan's increasing authoritarian leadership.
The editor notes that Erdogan used all his cheap tools that would have led the country to explosion in an attempt to rally his base with allegations that Turkey's existence as a state was at stake. He even ran videos of the recent massacre committed against the Muslim prayers in New Zealand, and fortunately, the result was a decisive rejection by the voters in Turkey. According to the outcomes revealed on Monday, Erdogan's party has lost the post of mayor of the two most important cities in Turkey, Ankara and Istanbul, for the first time since a quarter century.
The editor of the newspaper notes that although Erdogan has a majority in the Turkish parliament, but the defeat of his hand-picked candidates in the major cities driven by a huge turnout of voters sent an unequivocal message that the Turks are tired of his authoritarian style.
The editor wonders: "What is the reaction of Erdogan who has experienced a bitter defeat which became increasingly fanatical in 15 years of power?"
The editor says: "Not only the internal politics are at stake, but Trump's administration quietly awaits the end of the elections' season in the hope that Erdogan will be more open to conflict resolution, the most important is Turkey's imminent acquisition of an advanced missile system from Russia, as it could be subjected to tough sanctions, including the cancellation of a deal to buy US F-35 warplanes. There is also an unresolved dispute over Syria, where Erdogan threatens to attack the Kurdish forces allied to Washington."
After being defeated in the parliamentary elections in 2015, Erdogan launched a military campaign against the Kurds in southeastern Turkey. If he now refuses to make concessions on Russian missiles or Syrian Kurds, the Trump's administration will have no choice but to treat him as an opponent, and this may increase the damage to the Turkish economy which began to decline after the President Trump imposed tariffs and other sanctions last year in response to Turkey's imprisonment of a US priest.
"As in domestic affairs, it is in Erdogan's interest to respond pragmatically, and the Trump's administration must provide him with incentives to do so," the editor said.