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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

When Turkey gets mad at Erdogan, he gets wider abroad

ISTANBUL. The Global Climate Summit in Glasgow was supposed to be an important event for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was expected to seize the chance to take a fresh look at climate issues, and there are a few things he enjoys more than talking to other world leaders on the international stage.

But there is nothing he likes less than the feeling of humiliation. After learning that he could not have his own big security officer in Glasgow – security was an obsession after the failed coup against him in 2016 – when the American president was allowed to do this, it seems that Mr. appearance. …

Refusing to participate in the climate talks known as COP26 might have seemed doomed given his recent green turn, but Mr Erdogan tried to play at his home base and called his turn a matter of honor.

“We never allow damage to the reputation or honor of our country,” he told reporters on his way home from Europe. “We have shown once again that we can only build a just world with a fairer approach.”

Unpredictable, belligerent, politically astute, Mr. Erdogan has been in power for 18 years, always knowing which buttons to push. Yet he is politically vulnerable these days, perhaps more than ever in his career.

The president slips in polls as the economy stumbles. The lira hit a new low against the dollar last month. Unemployment among his supporters is on the rise. Inflation is skyrocketing at nearly 20 percent. Mr. Erdogan is increasingly in the background in the face of a vigorous united opposition.

Determined to be the longest serving ruler of modern Turkey since his re-election in 2023, Mr Erdogan is showing signs of growing frustration as his usual tactics don’t work and voters, especially young people seeking change, become anxious.

“I think he is worried and afraid of losing power, and that seems plausible even to him for the first time in many years,” said Soner Chagaptai, director of the Washington Institute’s Turkish Research Program.

“He has been in power for too long, almost two decades,” added Mr Chagaptai. “He suffers from establishment fatigue, just too tired to be constantly on top of his game and opponents.”

As Erdogan’s power grows shaky, some analysts warn that the Turkish president could become even more unpredictable as elections approach.

In particular, over the past decade, Erdogan has used foreign policy as a tool to improve his image at home, said Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Research in Istanbul.

He, in turn, insulted foreign leaders, introduced himself as a defender of the Turkish diaspora and Muslims around the world and, in particular, demonstrated Turkey’s military might last year in a series of interventions abroad.

He has conducted military operations in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan and has fueled tensions with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean by sending drilling ships to explore for gas.

However, since last November, when he fired his son-in-law from his post as finance minister, the plight of the Turkish economy has forced Mr Erdogan to soften his position internationally by abandoning rhetoric, Mr Ulgen said.

“The main question now is to prevent or forestall tensions so that the economy can recover,” he said.

But Mr. Erdogan has amassed so much strength that his whims are taking over, and he doesn’t seem to be able to always help himself. In the past couple of weeks, he has reverted to his old tactics, ignoring his closest advisors and threatening a diplomatic crisis while showing strength to his supporters.

When 10 Western ambassadors issued a statement calling for the release of the imprisoned Turkish philanthropist, Erdogan opposed them for meddling in Turkish affairs and threatened to expel them all. Then, just as suddenly, he retreated.

“He went against his own interests, as well as the best advice of his most trusted advisors, and it makes me think that he is no longer up to par,” said Mr Chagaptai.

The ouster of ambassadors was barely averted after fierce diplomacy when Erdogan met with President Biden on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Rome, only for Erdogan to raise another fuss over the Glasgow security protocol.

It was another manifestation of the swiftness that has become a hallmark of Mr. Erdogan’s relations with the world, when he risked seriously upset with international partners in sometimes dubious but increasingly desperate attempts to raise his position domestically.

Sensing a political opportunity, Erdogan recently made an astounding climate change after years in which Turkey stood out as an environmental laggard.

He renamed his ministry of the environment to the Ministry of the Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change and offered Mr. Biden a copy of the Green Revolution, for which he wrote an introduction.

He allowed the Paris Climate Agreement to be suspended, but was then ratified by the Turkish parliament on October 6, and he was ready to announce to the gathering of world leaders that Turkey would aim to reduce its carbon emissions by 2053.

“Climate change is a reality that threatens the future of humanity, so Turkey will naturally play a leading role in this vital issue,” he said in a televised address in Turkey ahead of the COP26 summit.

Mr. Erdogan’s appeal came after Turkey suffered bruises in the summer. The worst known bushfires have burned out coastal woodlands eight times more than the average annual fires, killing at least eight people. As a result of the strongest rains in hundreds of years in the northeast, flash floods have killed at least 82 people. And a flash of slime strangled the sea life in the Sea of ​​Marmara.

The disasters have given renewed momentum to support for climate change action, which has steadily escalated – in public opinion, business, civil society groups, and across the political spectrum – over the past year or so.

“All opinion polls show that political parties in Turkey will now have to take this issue very seriously in the next elections,” said Bahadir Kaleagasi, president of Institut du Bosphore, the French association that maintains Turkey’s relationship with France. and Europe.

In the end, the climate summit went to begging. Mr Erdogan apparently saw more benefit in stirring up diplomatic hype over the security protocol than in addressing the crowd. Or, as rumors circulated about his health, he needed rest.

In any case, he has already gotten what analysts say he really wanted from the weekend: an hour with Mr Biden on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting, which suggests a potential improvement in US-Turkish relations that could lift Turkey’s position. in international markets.

After Mr Erdogan was unable to secure a meeting with Mr Biden in New York in September during the United Nations General Assembly, this month’s meeting with the American President “became the number one issue in Turkish-American relations.” – said Aydin. Sezer, political analyst and former sales representative.

The Biden administration, while continuing to pressurize Mr Erdogan on human rights and rule of law issues – Turkey, in particular, was not invited to Mr Biden’s summit on democracy in December – made it clear that it sees the country as an important ally NATO and strategic partner.

“We may have disagreements, but we never lose sight of the strategic importance that we and our partners place on each other,” said David M. Satterfield, US Ambassador to Turkey, at a reception overseas on the command ship Mount Whitney. who called. to Istanbul on Wednesday.

But the main concern for the United States will be to keep relations with the unpredictable Mr. Erdogan out of the blue, said Asli Aydıntasbas, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

This meant ditching the close, albeit turbulent, personal relationship between President Donald Trump and Erdogan in favor of something more open.

“Ankara is both vulnerable and belligerent,” she said. “Washington is trying to deal with this ambivalence by distancing itself from Turkey.”

“There is a desire to keep it at this stable level – at least for another year – but given that this is an election year, it may not be that easy,” she added.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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