Turkey can return to democracy after polls – op-ed

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hawkish and authoritarian stance is an electoral posture and he may be persuaded to return to peace and democracy by the United States after the 2019 elections, journalist Aslı Aydıntaşbaş wrote in the Washington Post.

“People often ask me; ‘isn’t it a little Pollyanna-ish to ask mercurial Erdoğan to return to democracy – and hence the peace process with Turkey’s Kurds?’” Aydıntaşbaş wrote.

“Not really. Erdoğan is a pragmatist who at the moment has a dire need to consolidate his dwindling support base before next year’s presidential elections. After that, he could be amenable to a new round of talks.”

The United States’ negligence is responsible for the president’s increasing authoritarianism, Aydıntaşbaş said.

“Under both the Obama and Trump administrations, U.S. governments hoped that turning a blind eye to Turkey’s democratic decline and heavy-handed treatment of its Kurds would give the Pentagon a free hand to work with Syrian Kurds,” she said.

“That was wrong. The real price tag on arming Syrian Kurds ended up being the destruction of Turkey’s democracy.”

The United States should instead be pushing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to declare a unilateral ceasefire inside Turkey, Aydıntaşbaş said.

“Since Trump has a good personal rapport with Erdoğan, he can then use his famous deal-making powers to urge his Turkish counterpart to return to peace talks with Kurds after the 2019 elections,” she said.

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