from From the Potomac to the Euphrates and Middle East Program

The President Who Ate Turkey

November 28, 2014

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This article was originally published here on Politico.com on Thursday, November 27, 2014.

Without fail every year, starting around November 10, my #Turkey Twitter feed is jammed with not just the latest news from Ankara and Istanbul, but also Auntie Jean’s turkey recipe and suggestions about how to deep fry the bird without blowing up your house. And every year, on behalf of Turks and Turkey scholars the world over, I plaintively ask the tweeting masses to change #Turkey to #Turkiye, the actual Turkish name for the country that borders Greece, Bulgaria, Iran, Iraq and Syria—alas, with no success.

This year, however, basting and brining be damned, I am not going to make my annual plea. In an odd sort of way, #Turkey and #Turkiye have come together for me. That’s because after a mere 90 days as president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become the man who has eaten Turkey—the country. He is president and de facto prime minister, making him Turkey’s first “Primesident”—sort of like the political version of Turducken. Yet Erdogan’s powers run even further and deeper. He is also, effectively, the country’s foreign minister and chief judge, a prosecutor and big city mayor, university rector and father figure. There is nothing that better represents how Erdogan has gorged on Turkey than the president’s own newly unveiled Ak Saray, or White Palace, with its $350-$650 million price tag, 1,000 rooms and more than 2 million square feet.

Erdogan was, of course, larger than life before he took the presidential oath of office in August.

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