How Recep Tayyip Erdogan Held onto the Turkish Presidency Despite a Faltering Economy

Last month, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reelected president of Turkey, a position he has held since 2014. The race was a close one in which no candidate won a majority of the votes, necessitating an unprecedented runoff that delivered the victory to the incumbent. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak explains how Erdogan outmaneuvered his main opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu:

In retrospect, the 2023 elections will be remembered as the most challenging general elections for Erdogan’s political survival. The deteriorating economy, the devaluation of the Turkish lira vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar, the high cost of living, and the mishandling of the February 6 earthquake disaster—which claimed more than 50,000 lives—all significantly risked Erdogan’s chances of winning.

Thus, in order not to waste a single vote, Erdogan had no choice but to work on [expanding his multiparty coalition, known as CI]. This act of survival paved the way for the CI to include controversial radical Islamist parties such as the legal wing of the Turkish [branch of the] Hizballah terrorist organization, the Free Cause Party.

In the other camp, seizing all the abovementioned [factors militating against Erdogan] as a historic political opportunity, the secular Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu forcibly rallied the Turkish opposition around his leadership, believing that this time he had a real chance to defeat Erdogan. Despite this assumption, in retrospect the serious dispute and disagreement among the six party leaders around Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy [projected] a very negative, unstable, chaotic, and inefficient image that led the Turkish constituency to fear a potentially unstable future if [his coalition] were to win.

Apart from the lack of charisma perhaps, Kilicdaroglu’s most important vulnerability was his Alevi identity. The Alevi faith is a heterodox Islamic belief system which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam. . . . Seeing this element in his identity as a serious obstacle, Kilicdaroglu decided to present himself as Turkey’s Barack Obama—a minority leader who deserves to break through the glass ceiling imposed by the majority. [But] Turkey is not the United States and Kemal Kilicdaroglu is not Barack Obama.

Read more at Moshe Dayan Center

More about: Barack Obama, Hizballah, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security