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


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy