Can Turkey’s Erdogan Rebuild the Bridges He Has Burned?

Since his sweeping overhaul of Turkey’s political system in 2017, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cemented his near-total control over the country. Simultaneously he pursued an adventurous and bellicose foreign policy across the Mediterranean region, putting Ankara at odds with its NATO allies and the U.S. But amid regional shifts and the war in Ukraine, can Erdogan now rebuild the bridges he has burned?

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    • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
    • Türkiye
    • Middle East
    • NATO
    • Ankara
Can Turkey’s Erdogan Rebuild the Bridges He Has Burned?
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    Sensing Opportunity, Erdogan Is Back to Playing the Spoiler

    Sensing Opportunity, Erdogan Is Back to Playing the Spoiler

    While the Turkish strongman has pulled back from the brink in certain relationships, his approach to other powers is another matter. He is not shying away from exploiting friction where and when it suits his purposes.

    Domestic Politics and Erdogan’s Autocratic Tendencies

    To build popular support, Erdogan has fanned Muslim nationalism and drawn criticism for undermining Turkey’s secularism. Cracks in his electoral coalition are beginning to show, but it’s too soon to know whether or not they represent a serious challenge.

    Foreign Policy and Ties With the U.S. & Europe

    Ankara’s ties with the U.S. and the EU remain volatile, seemingly at the mercy of Erdogan’s political needs of the moment. Relations have frayed in recent years over Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian missile system and incursions in the Mediterranean, as well as also over passing political differences with Turkey’s European partners and NATO allies.

    Turkey’s Role in Syria and Libya

    Turkey positioned itself as a primary backer of opposition forces in the Syrian war, but it also used the conflict to launch attacks on Syrian Kurds. And Ankara’s role in the Libyan civil war, where a cease-fire in support of a transitional political settlement has brought the fighting to a halt, pitted it against Moscow in yet another theater of conflict.

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