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Cracks Are Growing in the Erdogan Regime

2 126 0
23.07.2021

Anyone who has ever spent time in Washington knows that briefings with policymakers and their staff tend to start and end with the question: “Is [name of country] stable?” The problem is that the answer to this question is rarely straightforward. To respond “yes” or “no” is to invite policies based on faulty assumptions. That’s what happened in late 2010, when Middle East experts and other observers informed U.S. officials that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule was durable and his son, Gamal, or Omar Suleiman—the head of intelligence—would likely succeed him. Of course, none of those assumptions turned out to be true.

Rather than looking at countries in terms of stability versus instability, it’s more analytically useful (and interesting) to approach the problem in terms of assessing a country’s relative instability. And on this measure, the country in the Middle East that stands out is Turkey.

Anyone who has ever spent time in Washington knows that briefings with policymakers and their staff tend to start and end with the question: “Is [name of country] stable?” The problem is that the answer to this question is rarely straightforward. To respond “yes” or “no” is to invite policies based on faulty assumptions. That’s what happened in late 2010, when Middle East experts and other observers informed U.S. officials that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule was durable and his son, Gamal, or Omar Suleiman—the head of intelligence—would likely succeed him. Of course, none of those assumptions turned out to be true.

Rather than looking at countries in terms of stability versus instability, it’s more analytically useful (and interesting) to approach the problem in terms of assessing a country’s relative instability. And on this measure, the country in the Middle East that stands out is Turkey.

Along several dimensions, Turkish politics today is more unstable than at any time in recent years. This doesn’t mean that there will be another uprising like the one that began over Gezi Park during the summer of 2013 or that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in danger of being overthrown. But Erdogan’s capacity to establish and maintain control across the country seems compromised, which raises the prospects for large-scale protests, increased violence, and political struggles at the summit of the state.

I am old enough to remember when Erdogan, former President Abdullah Gul, and several others among what was then a group of........

© Foreign Policy


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