Foreign Policy Blogs

Erdogan Strikes Back


Erdogan gives a speech in 2010. (N. Gulcan)

Last month, a massive corruption scandal rocked Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s political legitimacy. Believed to have been initiated by the Fethullah Gulen, a politically active cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania, a police operation arrested over 50 police chiefs, prominent politicians’ relatives, and other supporters of the Erdogan administration.

Yesterday, according to the New York Times, the Turkish government, in apparent retaliation, removed or reassigned approximately 350 police officers yesterday and removed a further 15 police chiefs and the deputy head of the country’s police force today. The move is believed to be intended to stifle the still ongoing corruption investigation.

This latest offensive in the growing hostilities between Erdogan and Gulen, once close allies with a common religiously inspired political ideology, speaks to the tremendous changes that have taken place in Turkey’s political landscape in the past decade. The political struggle no longer appears to be primarily between Islamists and secularists, but rather between different Islamist political factions. Citizens have also expressed concern over the Erdogan’s incessantly authoritarian tendencies. In addition to a reshuffling of the police force, Erdogan’s government has also drafted legislation to extend government control over the judiciary. None of these developments bode well for Turkey’s E.U. Integration processes, which appears to have taken a backseat to the more immediate domestic power struggle.




Eugene Steinberg

Eugene graduated Tufts University with degrees in International Relations and Quantitative Economics. He works with the editorial team at the Foreign Policy Association on Great Decisions 2014. He is deeply interested in Eastern European affairs, as well as the intersection of politics, technology, and culture. You can follow him on twitter @EugSteinberg