Turkey’s most recent steps in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean raised questions in foreign capitals about that country’s international standing. As Americans grappled with President Donald Trump’s call to delay the 2020 elections, the European media went berzerk over the Hagia Sophia’s reclassification as a mosque. On the one hand, they called on European leaders to respond to “Sultan” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whom they charged with neo-Ottomanist expansionism. At the same time, European reporters appreciate that Erdoğan has been filling the power vacuum that the United States left behind, empowering his country in the process. They also understand that the Turkish president, as an experienced leader, does what his European counterparts fail to do and takes his country to a new level of agency.
Hagia Sophia’s reinstatement as a mosque resulted in a sudden spike in Western media reports about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Needless to say, almost all of those stories were full of accusations and speculation about Turkey’s agenda.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters Friday that his administration was keeping a close eye on the Libya situation. He referred to increased diplomatic contacts between Turkey and Libya, including Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and top military commander Yaşar Güler’s recent visits to Tripoli, as "shadow marking." Erdoğan stressed that those visits took place "as part of a certain plan."
The outrage over George Floyd’s death at the hands of a racist police officer, which triggered riots in 140 cities across the United States and forced President Donald Trump to threaten military action against protestors, highlighted the importance of "the streets." Attempts to reshape politics through street protests have repeatedly captured the world’s attention over the last three decades. The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, along with other anti-communist uprisings across Eastern Europe, was hailed as a new wave of democratization. Although that revolution resulted in Czechoslovakia’s partition, most observers celebrated its peaceful nature.