What happened to Recep Tayyip Erdogan? The Turkish president came to power in 2003 promising economic and political liberalization. But under his rule, Turkey has instead moved in a profoundly illiberal, authoritarian direction—although not toward repressive Islamism, which some feared was Erdogan’s true agenda, given his background in Islamist politics. Rather, Erdogan has become something more akin to a traditional Middle Eastern strongman: consolidating personal power, purging rivals, and suppressing dissent.
Over the summer, it briefly appeared as if Erdogan might have overreached, when a group of military officers attempted to topple him—at the direction, Erdogan has insisted, of his erstwhile ally turned bitter foe Fethullah Gulen, an influential Turkish cleric based in the United States. But when the plotters struck, Erdogan was able to quickly rally support inside the armed forces and among the broader public and managed to put down the coup attempt with surprising ease. A subsequent crackdown has been swift and merciless: the government has jailed tens of thousands of alleged Gulenists, conducted a sweeping purge of the army and the state bureaucracy, shut down media outlets, and suspended thousands of academics. Erdogan’s response to the coup attempt has demonstrated that the president’s grip on power remains stronger than even many of his fiercest critics had assumed.
No one could have foreseen the coup or its aftermath. But even long before those events, it should have come as no surprise that Erdogan had failed to live up to the expectations of many liberals in Turkey and elsewhere who had initially hailed his ascent as a sign of progress. Erdogan never really aimed to make Turkey an Islamic state, but he also never wanted to liberalize it. Read more
Important developments are under way in Uzbekistan. With national elections impending on December 4, and fresh initiatives already taken in areas as diverse as policy reforms, business, and international relations, Uzbekistan has entered a vital new phase.
Senator Safoev served as Ambassador to Washington from 1996 to 2001, where he was warmly received, and subsequently was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Rector of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent. He was elected to the Senate in 2010. Additionally, he worked as the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; as Special Representative of the President of Uzbekistan in Afghanistan; as Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Germany; and as Chief Consultant and Head of the Department of International Economic Relations under the presidential administration.
Elin Suleymanov Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States of America
As Azerbaijan celebrates twenty five years of independence, Ambassador Suleymanov will look at the achievements of his country and focus on future prospects both for Azerbaijan and the region as a whole in an era of mounting tension and geopolitical transformations.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program form a joint transatlantic research and policy center. The Joint Center has offices in Washington and Stockholm, and is affiliated with the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Security and Development Policy. It is the first Center of its kind, and is today firmly established as a leading center for research and policy worldwide, serving a large and diverse community of analysts, scholars, policy-watchers, business leaders and journalists.
The failed July 15 military coup in Turkey brought to a head a long-standing struggle between President Erdoğan's overtly anti-Western approach and the alleged pro-Western orientation of the Fethullah Gülen movement led by the Pennsylvania-based Turkish preacher.
On the face of it, Erdoğan emerged as the coup's undisputed winner because he survived the challenge and has become more assertive than ever. Yet the mass purges he unleashed have not only dented his international standing but have created a void in Turkey's public life that will make his rule increasingly tenuous. Hence the regime's conspiracy theories holding Washington culpable for the coup and hence its Syria intervention as a show of strength and an attempt to restore national pride.
Similarly, while Ankara's rapprochement with Moscow is in keeping with its anti-Western tendencies, the pragmatism of the Turkish leadership is likely to prevent it from breaking with the West. This pragmatism has also led to the normalization of relations with Israel, a tactical move to counterweigh Ankara's failed bid for regional leadership, while persisting in its anti-Semitic and Islamizing policies.
This pragmatic manifestation notwithstanding, Erdoğan's attempt to consolidate power while flouting the constitution and the most basic human rights is setting the stage for a chaotic and unstable Turkey. As there are no active pro-Western political forces remaining in Ankara, it is no longer a place that the West can work with to solve the Middle East's daunting problems. Policies need to be adjusted accordingly.
Al Jazeera The Stream spoke to Sarah Kendzior @sarahkendzior, Researcher on Uzbekistan, Navbahor Imamova @Navbahor, Journalist for Voice of America, and Svante Cornell @SvanteCornell, Director of Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins University SAIS
Emma Alberici spoke with Halil Karaveli, also editor of the Turkey Analyst, and asked him about the power struggle between President Erdogan and a cleric in exile which was at the heart of the failed military coup.
2016 CAMCA Regional Forum to be Held in Tbilisi, Georgia, June 17th-19th
Regional meeting fostering an exchange of ideas on key issues throughout the Greater Central Asia region
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2016
Washington, D.C. — The 2016 CAMCA (Central Asia-Mongolia-Caucasus-Afghanistan) Regional Forum will be held on June 17th-19th in Tbilisi, Georgia, hosted by the Rumsfeld Foundation in partnership with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Over a three-day meeting, international and regional leaders across all sectors will convene to explore key issues, opportunities and challenges facing the CAMCA region.
The 3rd annual CAMCA Regional Forum will discuss ongoing developments in the region as well as outlooks on broader global trends. The Forum will consist of plenary sessions, keynote addresses and a variety of panels on topics including recent geopolitical and economic developments, intraregional trade and transport, business and investment opportunities in the region, regional security issues and much more.
The CAMCA Regional Forum is a non-political and non-partisan entity established to promote region-wide discussions on means of advancing economic growth and development in Greater Central Asia (Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). It promotes this goal by fostering dialogue and interaction among rising young leaders from various sectors in the 10 countries of the region, as well as with international leaders and stakeholders.
The CAMCA Regional Forum has evolved out of the Rumsfeld Fellowship Program at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, which has been bringing talented leaders from the region to Washington, D.C. since 2008. As of June 2016, over 145 professionals will have completed the Fellowship.