Since the beginning of 2016, Turkey has been one of the world’s preeminent locations for terrorist attacks. There have been two strikes in Ankara and four in Istanbul so far this year – the July 28 attack on Atatürk Airport being the last of these. These exclude the numerous incidents that have taken place in the provinces of Sirnak and Diyarbakir that have not gained international media attention. The nation has been consumed by fear as it wonders when the next terrorist attack might happen.
Uncertainty concerning the state of affairs in Turkey was heightened with the failed military coup on the night of July 15. The AKP has been in power for the last 14 years. President Erdogan has been an ambivalent international partner over the last few years, turning a blind eye to the influx of foreign Daesh fighters through Turkey to the battlegrounds of Syria and Iraq.
Since the failed coup, Erdogan has exploited the crisis to arrest nearly 8000 alleged plotters. In his attempt to crush all opposition to his rule, he has been able to gain greater power over Turkish society. The coup has demonstrated two sides of the coin: a powerful backing by a wide proportion of the population who protested the military coup on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, as well as a breathing space for discontent among Turkish nationals. Lest we forget, President Erdogan won the 2014 presidential elections by a mere 51.79%, reminding us that there is a considerable opposition to his increasingly Islamic-conservative rule.
Turkey, itself a NATO member, has a history of silencing the civil rights of its minority Kurdish population and has recently raised the prospect of reintroducing the death penalty. With his increase in power after the failed coup, President Erdogan should tread lightly so as to not send damaging reverberations across an already tumultuous region, most especially if Turkey is to consider a bid for EU membership.