Tim Ash: What we learned from the (10 Ambassadors)  crisis?

  1. Erdogan is weak, lagging in the polls, worried about his political outlook and is prepared to rattle the box with out of box solutions. Likely he is thinking of early elections and lower rates and a national/populist agenda are part of that.


  1. But, he still has limits and can just about be talked back from the edge when the last few credible people around him are able to get to him to make a logical case – in this case, “if you sack the 10, the lira collapses and AKP has zero chance of re-election”. So Erdogan is still able to think rationally and logically and is able to backdown – but the circle of people willing to talk truth to power in Turkey is narrowing. Maybe the foreign ministry is one of the few left as its staff speak English, talk to Westerners and get the risks and sentiment outside the country. Many might want to still be in a job post election.

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  1. The West struggles to deal with Erdogan, and authoritarian leaders in general. Part of the problem is that the West is split with conflicting interests – and only weak leadership now from the US. Trump crossed the Rubicon, other Western countries realised they needed to be more independent of the US, and when they did it, they rather liked it. Biden’s promise of returning to old alliances has run hollow after Afghanistan, NS2 and AUKUS – feels more like everyone for themselves. And hence on Turkey Western countries have lots of competing interests – migrants, trade, human rights, regional security, Syria, fighting radical Islamist terror groups, peace in the Eastern med, the Armenia issue, arms sales from Russia, bringing Turkey back into NATO. And Turkey pulls at all these strings.

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  1. The West backed down in this crisis – the US blinked by allowing its embassy to note its adherence to Article 41. That gave Erdogan the off ramp he needed and he was able to sell all this as a win. The West backed down, and he will hope will be less prepared to shout out publicly about human rights failings in Turkey. He disciplined the West – and may now have a freer hand in looming early elections if he decides to go down that track.


  1. Is Erdogan emerging from this weaker? He showed weakness and great vulnerability in getting into this crisis situation but by bluffing it out he let others blink and emerges stronger because the West has no clue how to manage him. I (S)ense here the Western approach is just wait, keep quiet, and hope that Erdogan loses the next election. But what if he loses that election but opts to stay in power, or try to stay in power – Trump showed him the script there. Hard to see much leadership then from the West.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.