As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP reel from their first loss in Istanbul in 25 years, pressure and criticism have been mounting on multiple fronts, including from two founding AKP members, former president Abdullah Gul and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
It is clear that the Republican People’s Party (CHP), along with Turkey’s Kurds and Christian community, used the Syrian war as a tool to defeat Erdogan in the polls.
The start of Erdogan’s troubles can indeed be traced to the outbreak of Syria’s civil war. Turkey was once seen as the model of a modern Muslim democracy.
Erdogan made Turkey’s integration into the Arab world a priority, and the pivot of this new outreach was his relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with whom he forged close familial ties, calling him his brother.
As Assad – with the help of Russia and Iran – reasserts himself in the Arab world, Erdogan’s rivals – including Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain – are all reaching out to Damascus to push Turkey out of Arab affairs.
And while the Syrian regime had previously reversed course and played a pivotal role in supporting Ankara’s fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), that alliance is now in tatters, with Turkey caught between US, Russian and Kurdish diplomacy.