Erdogan’s Achilles heel

By Gönül Tol | Director of Turkey Program - The Middle East Institute | Aug 9, 2018
Erdogan’s Achilles heel

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One of the greatest challenges the Syrian conflict has posed to Turkey has been the influx of over three million refugees. A country that has never considered itself a nation for non-Turkish migration has become a destination for Arab refugees from Syria in a matter of years. After having done a remarkable job at welcoming so many refugees, the Turkish government now has to tackle the challenges of integrating them in a country that has become increasingly nationalist and skeptical of foreigners.
 
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been riding a nationalist wave since the ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or the PKK broke down in 2015 and the conflict between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish government reignited. The support many Turkish nationalists have lent to Erdoğan—originally an Islamist politician—changed Erdoğan’s political fortunes in 2015 during snap elections that were held a few months after Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority.
 
Erdoğan’s alliance with the Turkish nationalists once again proved critical in June 2018’s presidential and parliamentary elections, granting Erdoğan the presidency and a parliamentary majority. Yet, the alliance is not without challenges and may be fraught with danger for the Erdoğan government in the future.
 
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