A new era has dawned in the northern Levant. The Republic of Turkey has left behind its Kemalist, secular foundations in pursuit of Islamist, authoritarian governance. The Justice & Development Party (AKP), headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has alienated the US, Israel, and the EU and abandoned the country’s pro-Western and NATO credentials.
The AKP has adopted a neo-Ottoman policy of imperialism, seeking to usurp the position of “leader of the Muslim World” from Saudi Arabia. In colonial language reminiscent of Mussolini’s fascist Italy, Erdogan has threatened to conquer the Greek Isles, Cyprus, and the Levant. He has taken concrete steps toward advancing this vision, despite alienating European and Arab allies.
Some analysts have called for maintaining ties with Turkey in the hope that the AKP government will fall and relations with a more moderate leader can resume. But this is wishful thinking. Despite poor showings in local elections and a recent poor economic performance, ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist organizations like the Grey Wolves have been emboldened since the AKP’s rise.
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