Turkey’s Democracy Still Might Not Be Safe

Turkey’s Hamas-supporting president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hoped that Sunday’s elections would give his Islamist party an overwhelming parliamentary majority, allowing him to amend the constitution in order to have himself effectively made dictator. Although his hopes were dashed, his party nonetheless won a plurality, and the election results may not be sufficient to curb his tyrannical tendencies, as Michael Rubin writes:

While some diplomats may say that the elections prove that democracy can overcome autocracy, . . . optimism that the damage done by more than twelve years of one-party rule can be overcome may be misplaced. On key issues of concern to the United States — for example, Turkey’s indirect and even direct support for radical Islamist terrorist groups in Syria—Erdogan has delegated authority to organizations like the Turkish intelligence service which do not answer to any democratic authority.

Erdogan has also permanently altered the bureaucracy . . . and even Turkey’s military, [which is] purged and cowed so that it is a shadow of its former self. Add into the mix a steady diet of anti-Americanism and conspiratorial incitement, and Turkey will remain one of the most anti-American countries on earth.

If the elections lead to gridlock and new elections, expect the would-be sultan to take his gloves off. . . . Turks are at the precipice. To suggest smooth sailing from here would be naïveté of the same sort that brought us the “reset” with Russia, the notion that Bashar al-Assad was a reformer, or, for that matter, the idea that Iran could be a trusted partner.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Democracy, Hamas, Islamism, Middle East, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy