Erdoğan can’t stomach solutions to crisis – FT

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can resolve an emerging financial crisis in the country and the steps should seem obvious, but for him they are just treacherous snares, writes Andrew Gardner in the Financial Times.

The Turkish leader believes a “salutary” rise in interest rates creates inflation and would put credit-fueled economic growth in danger ahead of local elections next March. Erdoğan, a former mayor of Istanbul, is terrified of losing Turkey's big cities to opposition parties, which would compromise his position, Gardner said.

Going to the International Monetary Fund for financial help, like Argentina, would mean a loss of sovereignty and stretching a hand out to the United States. Freeing pastor Andrew Brunson, whose internment is a main cause of political and economic tensions with the United States, would mean losing face, Gardner said.

“For now, Mr Erdoğan is beating his breast,” he said. “Turkey will find “new friends and allies”, he wrote in the New York Times, threatening “we will say bye bye to those who sacrifice their strategic partnership and alliance with a nation of 81 million people on the altar of their relations with terror organisations”.”

Erdoğan is calling on Washington to sever its ties in Syria with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group in Turkey recognized as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union. He is also demanding that Washington hand over Fethullah Gülen, an ageing, Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher that Turkey blames for a failed coup attempt in July 2016, and a Turkish banker serving U.S. jail time for breaking sanctions on Iran.

Meanwhile, Edoğan has jettisoned his closest comrades for courtiers and conspiracy theorists, and it is doubtful that allies Russia, China and Qatar will bail him out because they have their own problems to deal with, Gardner said.

 “Mr. Erdoğan should recall that violent financial tremors in Turkey often crack open its political edifice,” he said. “It was the turn-of-the-century financial crisis that helped propel him to power and create a new establishment at the expense of the old Kemalist political order. There is a lot to play for.”