September 24, 2023

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — After securing a powerful new mandate in a runoff presidential election, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan may mood some positions which have irritated his NATO allies. However observers predicted that the nation’s longtime strongman chief is unlikely to depart from his coverage of participating with each Russia and the West.

Erdogan gained reelection Sunday with greater than 52% of the vote, extending his more and more authoritarian rule into a 3rd decade. He should now confront skyrocketing inflation that has fueled a cost-of-living disaster and rebuild within the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed greater than 50,000 individuals and leveled whole cities.

After failing to safe victory outright within the first spherical of voting on Might 14, Erdogan defeated opposition challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who had promised to place Turkey on a extra democratic path and enhance relations with the West.

A divisive populist and masterful orator who remodeled Turkey’s presidency from a largely ceremonial function to a strong workplace, Erdogan gained partly because of the backing of conservative voters. They continue to be dedicated to him for lifting Islam’s profile in Turkey, which was based on secular ideas, and elevating the nation’s affect in worldwide politics whereas charting an impartial course.

Within the runup to the election, Erdogan held off approving Sweden’s entry into the NATO alliance — a part of a Western effort to isolate Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine. Erdogan accused Sweden of being too delicate on teams Ankara considers to be terrorists, and a collection of Quran-burning protests in Stockholm angered his non secular assist base — making his robust stance much more in style.

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Together with his speedy political future now safe, Erdogan could also be prepared to elevate his objection to Sweden’s membership, which should be unanimously accredited. Turkey and Hungary are the one two nations within the alliance that haven’t ratified the bid.

“Turkey will doubtless sign it’s open to some type of rapprochement, comparable to by encouraging parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s accession to NATO,” stated Jay Truesdale, who heads the geopolitical threat consultancy, Veracity Worldwide.

However that doesn’t imply Erdogan plans to desert his relationship with Russia, on which Turkey depends on for vitality and tourism income.

“Erdogan has efficiently maintained a multi-vector overseas coverage, which has enabled him to have constructive relations with Russia, China, and nations all through the Center East, even when this has been to the detriment of Turkey’s alliances with the West,” stated Truesdale.

That has typically put Turkey on the heart of main worldwide conflicts and debates: serving to to barter a deal to restart Ukrainian grain exports and avert world meals shortages, intervening militarily in Syria’s civil conflict, participating in controversial gasoline exploration within the Mediterranean, internet hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing violence after which typically utilizing these refugees as leverage in negotiations along with his European neighbors.

In a mirrored image of his world ambitions, Erdogan declared in his victory speech Sunday that, with the nation marking its centennial this yr, the world would see a “Turkish century.”

Erdogan’s tendency to play each side — comparable to buying Russian-made army gear and refusing to implement sanctions towards Moscow whereas additionally offering drones for Ukraine — has typically irked his allies.

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But it surely additionally typically makes him indispensable, as evidenced by the western leaders who rushed to congratulate him, at the same time as they continue to be involved about his more and more authoritarian flip — together with crackdowns on free speech and rhetoric focusing on the LGBTQ neighborhood.

U.S. President Joe Biden stated in a message posted on Twitter, that he appears to be like “ahead to persevering with to work collectively as NATO Allies on bilateral points and shared world challenges.”

Washington ousted Turkey from the U.S.-led F-35 fighter jet program, after Erdogan authorities bought Russia’s S-400 air protection system. Turkey is now looking for to buy F-16 fighter jets.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in the meantime, stated his nation and Turkey “have large challenges to face collectively,” together with a return to peace in Europe. “With President Erdogan … we are going to proceed to maneuver ahead.”

And in an indication that he’s additionally necessary to the West’s adversary, Russian President Vladimir Putin attributed Erdogan’s victory to his “impartial overseas coverage.”

These insurance policies helped Erdogan preserve his reputation regardless of important challenges at dwelling, together with an financial system battered by excessive inflation and a devastating earthquake that led to criticism of his authorities. The Turkish lira plunged towards the greenback Monday, although shares rallied.

“Who else had been we going to vote for however the man who introduced our nation so far?” Hacer Yalcin requested throughout post-election celebrations. “He ready all the pieces, piled all of it within the center, and now another person goes to come back and eat it?”

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Erdogan is more likely to press forward with current efforts to normalize relationships with nations of the Center East after fallouts with a number of regional powers, together with Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan acknowledged in a current tv interview that sure Gulf States, that he didn’t title had given Turkey monetary help that helped prop up the nation’s financial system.

Below intense home strain to evict hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, Erdogan has additionally been making an attempt to fix fences with Syrian President Bashar Assad — after years of backing opposition fighters looking for to depose him.

Erdogan’s authorities hopes that rapprochement with Assad can result in the protected repatriation of the refugees. Damascus, nevertheless, has stated Turkey must withdraw from areas in northern Syria that it controls.

Whereas the U.S. and Europe are more likely to search Turkey’s assist on some points, like Sweden’s membership in NATO, observers stated the connection might be stay troublesome in different areas, comparable to Turkey’s accession to the European Union. These talks are stalled over democratic backsliding beneath Erdogan and are unlikely to be revived.

“One other 5 years of Erdogan means extra of the geopolitical balancing act between Russia and the West,” wrote Galip Dalay, affiliate fellow at Chatham Home in London. “Turkey and the West will interact in transactional cooperation wherever (Turkey’s) pursuits dictate it — and it’ll compartmentalize its relationship.”


Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul. Cinar Kiper in Bodrum, Turkey, contributed to this report.