A Turkish presidency would bolster Erdogan’s regional role
By: Yalçın Akdogan
The Middle East has been shaken recently by political and social conflicts. All these conflicts touch on all fragile points in the region leading to eventual breaks. Iraq stands on the edge of a cliff with all the conflicts it is facing. The internal war, caused by the pressure of the cruel Assad regime, deepens the ethnic, religious and sectarian divisions in Syria. The regime which came to power after a coup d’état in Egypt pursued cruel policies against a political movement and a good portion of society. The massacre by Israeli forces in Palestine and the lack of an adequate Western response has deepened anti-Zionist and anti-Western sentiments in the region and abroad. The violence sparked by certain organizations in the name of religion has brought bloody scenes that no one would ever hope to see. The relapse of the Arab Spring and the blockage of democratic channels have given rise to radicalism in the region.
The policies of the West and its local supporters have plunged the region into a circle of fire. The development of democratic tendencies in the region has ignited fear among different groups in the West, which claim to be the true representatives of global democracy. The voices of oppositions are being suppressed and excluded rather than being integrated into the system. In other words, radicalism, violence and extremism are being encouraged.
There is no doubt that this chaos damages the region deeply. Even though conflicts may come to an end, the political climate of mutual distrust will remain for a long time. The masses begin to feel strong antipathy against what is known as Western values.
It is in this context, the political visions and roadmaps suggested by political leaders and their determined stance gain utmost importance. This is where we should contextualize Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vision for the region.
State and religion
It is known that the relationship between state and religion has been the most sensitive theme in the region. Erdogan’s messages in this area have questioned the standardized, pressuring understanding of secularism and rather promoted an inclusionary and moderate understanding which aims to improve democratic values. I believe he reformulates concepts which have been shaped by elites through negative connotations and practices. The reformulation of old concepts in a more inclusionary, civil and democratic way is the reflection of Erdogan’s transformative leadership. Such an effect can only be created by a credible leader.
Erdogan gives inclusionary and moderate messages against radicalism that I believe to have prevailed in the region. He has suggested a clear road-map to end both sectarian and ethnic conflicts in the region.
Erdogan gives inclusionary and moderate messages against radicalism that I believe to have prevailed in the region
In addition to that, he stands against anti-Semitism strongly but without refraining to express the firmest reactions to Israeli policies that enable him to be heard loud and clear. Such a stance has been presented for the last decade regardless of the domestic political context in Turkey. This principled stance has enabled Erdogan to have a moral standing, in which he is determined to denounce the cruelty practiced by Israel out loud and to stand against feelings of hatred against other religions and sects.
Combining conservatism with democracy, change, tolerance, a fair understanding of the relationship between the state and religion, and harmony of people from different religious, ethnical, sectarian backgrounds, Erdogan has strengthened his voice to reach out and represent several groups and segments of society.
While the so-called democratic West promotes authoritarianism in the region, Erdogan gives democratic messages to the region.
Nations that do not stand by their own values, refrain from accepting realities and simultaneously are unable to defend their own will are destined to live in pain. What Erdogan has achieved in Turkey is exactly the reverse of such a political path. He has successfully integrated normative politics into real politics and strengthened Turkey’s regional position. His policies have resulted in a transformed vision in Turkey, one that sees the country standing on its own two feet. Erdogan has won three general elections, three local elections and two referenda so far.
As the day of the presidential elections in Turkey arrives, polls predict that Erdogan will win with a clear majority of votes in the first round. As a Prime Minister, he has transformed Turkey and his presidency will be a milestone for the consolidation of a prosperous, democratic country having a regional role.
The Middle East’s tremendous transformation requires an inclusive, cooperative perspective integrated with the realities of the region to become peaceful and prosperous with all its richness and pluralism, working on the basis of equal partnerships. Erdogan’s transformative perspective as President of Turkey will lead a new era in the region as well as in Turkey for further cooperation, solidarity and peaceful transitions.
Yalçın Akdoğan is the Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was born in Istanbul in 1969. He is an associate professor of political science and author. He was graduated from Anadolu University, the faculty of Communication Sciences, department of journalism and broadcasting. He completed his Master’s degree in Communication Sciences department of the same university. Akdogan had a PhD degree from the Political and Social Sciences department of Marmara University. Akdoğan worked as a journalist in dailies such as Yeni Şafak and Star. He has worked as media advisor of State Minister, advisor to the head of AK Party and Senior advisor to the Prime Minister of Turkey. He also taught at TOBB University of Economics and Technology and at the Leadership Academy of Bahçeşehir University. Akdogan has written 8 books and many articles published on various newspapers and journals.