President Erdoğan

President Erdoğan

Erdoğan’s strong leadership facilitates Turkey’s regional policy

Had it not been for President Erdoğan's strong leadership, Turkey might have panicked in the face of pressing issues and failed to prevent existing problems or meet new challenges

Turkey’s attention has been understandably focused on domestic politics for some time. Observers have discussed at length the campaign and analyzed the post-election political atmosphere. Nowadays, there is still a lot of talk about Turkey’s new system of government and its implementation. At the same time, there is a brewing fight within the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which makes many people wonder whether tensions between CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the party’s presidential candidate, Muharrem İnce, will tear the movement into two pieces.

Simply put, a lot of things are happening in Turkish politics, which will presumably remain quite busy going forward. On Monday, a new chapter will begin as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan takes the oath of office and forms his Cabinet. Likewise, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) national congress, which will take place next month, will be an important item on the country’s political agenda, as analysts discuss how the movement must change and what should stay the same.Clearly, all of those issues are very important. At the same time, however, many critical developments are taking place in Turkey’s neighborhood. First of all, the Syrian crisis continues to deepen. What has been happening in Daraa proved yet again that the bloodshed, which we witnessed for the past seven years, wouldn’t stop anytime soon. In recent weeks, close to 300,000 civilians have fled their homes due to a sustained assault by the Assad regime and Russia. Those individuals flocked to the nearby Jordanian border, which remains sealed. Meanwhile, Russia has been openly competing with Iran for influence over Syria. The Russians want to take advantage of Washington’s tough stance on Tehran’s regional influence and fill the power vacuum that the Iranians will leave behind. Simultaneously, Russian officials have been trying to salvage the Iran nuclear deal by attending a meeting in Vienna, Austria, alongside representatives of China, the United Kingdom and the European Union. By strengthening its influence on Iran, Moscow seeks to tighten its grip on the Black Sea at the expense of European nations and consolidate its presence in Ukraine.

Another key development is the water crisis in Iraq, which some Western players blame on Iran and Turkey. In truth, the Turks stopped filling the Ilisu Dam at the request of Iraq’s central government until July to alleviate the crisis. But those efforts did not stop Turkey’s enemies in the West from launching a smear campaign against the country.

Finally, Turkey continues to combat terrorist groups outside its borders. In particular, there are efforts by certain groups on the ground to manipulate the Manbij road map – partly to shape next week’s conversation between the Turkish president and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump.

Had it not been for Erdoğan’s strong leadership, Turkey would have panicked in the face of pressing problems and failed to prevent existing problems to create new challenges. Luckily, our country has a strong political leader, and we can sell unmanned aerial vehicles to Ukraine and warships to Pakistan against the backdrop of major domestic developments. Moving forward, I am hopeful that Turkey will accomplish many more things.

[Daily Sabah, 6 July 2018]

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