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Turkey after Trump


At the blog of the NY Review of Books, journalist Christopher de Bellaigue asses the dire situation in Turkey—months into a repressive “state of emergency” following July’s failed coup—and how the election of Donald Trump as US president might embolden Erdoğan in his efforts to consolidate power. At best, suggests de Bellaigue, Trump will continue the US’s current stance on Turkey. At worst he will endorse a more extreme crackdown on dissent and Kurdish resistance in Turkey. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

What does all this mean for a Donald Trump presidency? There are grounds to believe that, for all his dislike of Muslims within the United States, and his ambivalence towards NATO (of which Turkey is a longstanding member), Trump will in some ways be preferable in Erdoğan’s eyes to Barack Obama—and to what might have transpired had Hillary Clinton had come to power. Erdoğan is tired of taking what he considers hypocritical Western flak on human rights, an irritation that under a Clinton administration might have been expected to continue; she was further suspect in his eyes because her campaign accepted donations from the Gülen movement.

If anything, the pattern for future Turkish-US relations may be provided by Turkish-Russian relations. Now that Erdoğan has abandoned his former policy of regime change in Syria, and is concerned above all to contain the resurgent Kurds, the solution for him may be some kind of formalization of the status quo; if the Trump administration tolerates Erdoğan’s smashing of the Kurds, and desists from harping on about human rights, it will find Erdoğan a more enthusiastic accomplice in whatever plans it has for destroying ISIS, even if that involves allowing Assad a rump state. Inside Turkey, it seems likely that Trump will be bad news for the Kurds and other opponents of President Erdoğan. The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party leader recently accused Erdoğan and his allies of “creating their own Baathist state.” Will Trump care?

Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Istanbul, October 10, 2016. Via NYR Daily.