Erdoğan may use foreign military adventure as decoy - Arab Weekly

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has suffered repercussions from its unwillingness to concede defeat in the mayoral election in Istanbul, and the continuing uncertainty is likely to harm the country’s economy, the Arab Weekly said in an editorial.

With unrest brewing at home, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could look abroad to create a diversion, it said.

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the main opposition Republican People’s Party mayoral candidate for Istanbul, received his mandate from the electoral board this week, 17 days after the initial count showed he had won the vote in Turkey’s largest city.

In the weeks before he received his certificate, the AKP launched a series of appeals demanding recounts. The party has continued its efforts to overturn the result of the election, launching an appeal last week to cancel the election after alleging that serious electoral fraud took place.

Erdoğan has been hit hard by the loss of the city, which serves as a vehicle for political patronage, but was also the city where he began his political career, the Arab Weekly said.

The ongoing contest over the Istanbul seat has already caused a slide in the lira and is likely to put investors off the country, it said.

“From the market perspective, an extended period of uncertainty around elections is a bad idea”, Tim Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, told Reuters.

As domestic opposition continues to build, Erdoğan may attempt to create a situation abroad that will draw attention away from Istanbul and shore up support from nationalist circles.

“To woo the AKP’s nationalist allies, military adventures outside Turkish borders can also be appealing for Erdogan. Syria comes to mind, so does Libya”, the Arab Weekly said.

“In the volatile North Africa nation, Ankara is said to be joining forces with Qatar to aid Islamist groups and militias allied with Tripoli-based government of Fayez al-Sarraj. Such entanglement could only compound the regional problems of an already overstretched Turkey”, it said.