In a new Washington Post op-ed, TCF senior fellow Mort Abramowitz and Eric Edelman, both former U.S. ambassadors to Turkey, provide an analysis of the erosion of democracy in Turkey under the leadership of President Tayyip Erdogan.
Although Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have presided over an impressive economic rise and depoliticization of the Turkish armed forces—which initially led the world to believe that Turkey had a “bright future” ahead—now Erdogan has steered Turkey’s future toward authoritarianism at the expense of his country’s stability, prosperity, and security.
Clearly, democracy cannot flourish under Erdogan now. The transformative reforms of the AK Party originally promised have given way to systematic abused of basic freedoms and legal rights. The AK Party’s heralded attempt to hold the military accountable for its behavior was a show trial in which manufactured evidence served to implicate political opponents… Authoritarian leaders usually justify their rule by insisting they are bringing their citizens stability and prosperity. In Turkey, Erdogan’s policies are putting both of these further beyond the people’s reach. After supporting and arming extremist groups in Syrian conflict, Turkey is now experiencing dangerous blowback from the terrorism it helped stoke. Bombing in Istanbul and Ankara have created shocking scenes of carnage. Yet Turkey continues to insist that Syrian Kurdish groups—not the Islamic State or Jabhat al- Nusra—are the greatest threaten Syria.
What prescription should U.S. foreign policymakers recommend to address the Turkish governance predicament? Abramowitz and Edelman write, “We continue to believe that a strong, stable and democratic Turkey is both possible and essential. But this requires a government committed to these goals and intent on achieving them. If Erdogan still wants to deliver a brighter future for his country, he has to reform or resign.”
Read the full article by Abramowitz and Edelman at the Washington Post.