Turkey’s One-Man Show: Erdoğan’s Agenda After Davutoğlu

May 16, 2016
12:00 pm -

Event Description

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ouster of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last week raises serious questions about Turkey’s political trajectory, its role in the Middle East, its relations with the European Community, and its participation in NATO.

FDD hosted a lunch conversation on Monday, May 16 at 12:00pm with former Turkish MP Aykan Erdemir; founding director of The Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies Gönül Tol; and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Alan Makovsky. The conversation was moderated by John Hannah. The event was co-hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

After a week of open strife within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to his 1,150-room palace last week. Shortly after their meeting, news broke that the AKP would have an extraordinary congress on May 22 to choose a new party chair, and that Davutoğlu would not seek reelection to his post. Turkish citizens, who are used to military takeovers, have now witnessed their country’s first “palace coup.” What does Davutoğlu’s resignation mean for the future of Turkey? How will Erdoğan’s consolidation of power play out in an uncertain Turkey and the broader Middle East?

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015). He served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. As an outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedoms in the Middle East, Dr. Erdemir is a recipient of the 2016 Stefanus Prize for Religious Freedom, and founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Dr. Erdemir received his PhD in anthropology and Middle East studies from Harvard University, and worked as a faculty member at Bilkent University and Middle East Technical University, Ankara. He is co-author of the 2016 book Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces (Routledge).

Alan Makovsky is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.  He previously served as a Senior Professional Staff Member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he covered the Middle East and Turkey. From May 2001 through June 2013, he worked consecutively for three Chairmen/Ranking Members, Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-CA), Howard Berman (D-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY). Mr. Makovsky worked at the State Department from 1983 to 1994, covering southern European affairs and Middle Eastern affairs for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He also served as Political Advisor to Operation Provide Comfort (1992) and as Special Advisor to Special Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross (1993-94). From 1994 to 2001, he worked at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he founded the Turkey Research Program and wrote on various Middle Eastern and Turkish topics.

Dr. Gönül Tol is the founding director of The Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies. She is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies and writes a weekly column for the liberal Turkish daily Radikal. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Florida International University, where she was a graduate fellow at the Middle East Studies Center.  After three years of field research in Germany and the Netherlands, she wrote her dissertation on the radicalization of the Turkish Islamist movement Milli Gorus in Western Europe. She was also an adjunct professor at the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University. She has taught courses on Islamist movements in Western Europe, Turkey, world politics, and the Middle East.

John Hannah is a senior counselor at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Prior to joining FDD, he served for eight years, during the George W. Bush administration, on the staff of Vice President Dick Cheney, including as the vice president’s national security advisor. He was intimately involved in U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and on a range of international issues from the Middle East to North Korea to Russia. Previously, Mr. Hannah also worked as a senior advisor on the staff of Secretary of State Warren Christopher and as a senior member of Secretary of State James A. Baker’s Policy Planning Staff. He has also practiced law, specializing in international dispute resolution.