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The rise of Turkey’s AKP

The rise of Turkey’s AKP
The AKP’s landslide victory in the general election of Nov. 3, 2002 was a turning point in the country’s history. (Getty Images)
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Updated 15 May 2020

The rise of Turkey’s AKP

The rise of Turkey’s AKP
  • Ties were damaged when the country deviated from its policy of not meddling in Arab affairs

Turkish-Arab ties were damaged by Erdogan’s party's neo-Ottoman approach

Summary

On Aug. 14, 2001, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former mayor of Istanbul, united the leaders of several previously banned Islamist parties to form Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, the Justice and Development Party. The AKP has dominated Turkish politics ever since.

The AKP’s landslide victory in the general election of Nov. 3, 2002 — the first for a party with Islamist roots since the founding of the Turkish republic in 1923 — was a turning point in the country’s history. 

Many feared the victory posed a threat to Turkey’s secular constitution, but Erdogan vowed to “build a Turkey where common sense prevails” and pledged that “under our government, Turkey will be in harmony with the world.”

Erdogan served as prime minister from 2003 until 2014, when he became the 12th president of Turkey. Despite accusations of corruption and backsliding on its commitment to secular democratic values, and surviving an attempted military coup in 2016, the AKP has remained in power for the past 17 years.

In 2017, however, the party narrowly won a referendum granting the president sweeping new powers, undermining Turkey’s system of democracy.

ANKARA: I joined Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) upon the invitation of former Turkish President Abdullah Gul. We met each other when I was ambassador in Riyadh and he was an economist in the Islamic Development Bank. Our relations have remained excellent ever since that time.

Key Dates

  • 1

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former mayor of Istanbul, founds the conservative Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, the Justice and Development Party.

    Timeline Image Aug. 14, 2001

  • 2

    The AKP retains a majority in the general election, a performance it repeats in 2011.

  • 3

    With more than 51 percent of the vote, Erdogan is elected president of Turkey.

  • 4

    The AKP loses a majority in a general election, leading to a hung parliament.

    Timeline Image June 7, 2015

  • 5

    Erdogan calls a snap general election, which returns the AKP to a majority government.

  • 6

    A failed coup attempt by military factions concerned that “the democratic and secular rule of law has been eroded by the current government” leads to a state of emergency, widespread arrests and purges of government officials.

  • 7

    The AKP narrowly wins a referendum abolishing the post of prime minister, granting the president sweeping new powers and transforming Turkey’s political system from parliamentary to presidential.

  • 8

    The AKP joins forces with the ultra-right-wing Nationalist Movement Party to form the People’s Alliance, which wins a majority in the general election. Erdogan is re-elected president.

    Timeline Image June 24, 2018

As I was the only founding member acquainted with international relations, my colleagues in the party thought I should draft the “Foreign Relations” chapter of the party program. Here is what I wrote at that time regarding Turkey’s relations with the Middle East: “Turkey maintains strong historical and cultural relations with all countries in the Middle East. The AKP will build upon these foundations and cooperate with them in all fields to carry further ahead these valuable assets. It will do everything to eliminate misunderstandings and boost the relations in all fields.”

When we won the elections and I became foreign minister, we immediately started to implement these promises. A few months after the AKP came to power, the Turkish Parliament — where the AKP was holding two-thirds of the seats — rejected a US proposal to open a second front in the north of Iraq because it believed that the American invasion would bring nothing but calamity to this Arab country.

The AKP consolidated Turkey’s relations with all countries in the region and beyond. It prioritized soft power in its ties with all nations. In a 2008 election for temporary membership of the UN Security Council, Turkey was supported by 151 of the 192 voting countries.

Having lived for several years in Saudi Arabia, both Prime Minister Gul and I were fully aware of the importance of closer relations with Riyadh, so we gave priority to further improving them. There were already strong relations that went back several centuries. In the late 1980s, Turkey’s late President Turgut Ozal and King Fahd gave a new impetus to these friendly relations. They transformed them into cooperation in several areas. I was ambassador in Riyadh during that period and Saudi authorities opened wide all doors for me, and the Saudi government bestowed on me the Order of King Abdulaziz (First Class) for my contribution to Turkish-Saudi friendship.

Having lived for several years in Saudi Arabia, both Prime Minister Gul and I were fully aware of the importance of closer relations with Riyadh

Yasar Yakis

The momentum accelerated when King Abdullah visited Turkey in 2006 and again in 2007. The second time was in combination with the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. President Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, deviating from the established practice of receiving foreign heads of state in the presidential palace, visited King Abdullah in his hotel room. This was a show of appreciation for the king and the importance that Turkey’s top two leaders attributed to Saudi Arabia.

These two countries also cooperated in the US-led anti-Daesh coalition, but Turkey’s commitment was not as strong as many other members. In August 2014, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, condemned Daesh, saying: “Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism are not in any way part of Islam.” During the same period, in an unfortunate coincidence, then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu used a narrative belittling Daesh as “nothing but a group of furious youths.” This attempt to trivialize Daesh’s threat has been brought back to the forefront now that he has announced the establishment of a new political party called “Future.”




A page from the Arab News archive from Nov. 11, 2002.

Turkey’s deviation from its traditional policy of not meddling in Arab affairs started with its military support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Libya, and political support for the organization in Egypt, because the AKP was heavily inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology. In the divide between most Arab countries on the one side and Qatar on the other, Turkey sided with Qatar, again probably because of its Muslim Brotherhood inclination.

“Turks want leaders who will empty out the corrupt soup that Turkish politics has become and act with justice and honesty.”

From an Arab News editorial, Nov. 5, 2002

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, had in 1934 instructed an under-secretary in the Foreign Ministry, saying: “Turkey’s close relations with many Arab countries are valuable assets. We have to maintain and improve them, but this should not turn to meddling in intra-Arab affairs and Turkey should not attempt to give advice unless they ask.” Turkey is now doing the exact opposite of this.

Davutoglu’s neo-Ottomanist ideology added insult to injury. The school curriculum in Turkey says that Ottomans brought peace, justice and stability to the Middle East and the Balkans. Many in Turkey cherish these ideas, but those who studied history from other sources know that the Ottoman legacy in the Middle East and the Balkans is remembered more for its negative aspects.

Turkey has to put aside this battered ideology and keep in mind that the Ottoman state collapsed 100 years ago, so it has to base its relations with the countries of the former Ottoman Empire on today’s realities.

  • Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling AK Party. Twitter: @yakis_yasar


Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
Updated 26 min 20 sec ago

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
  • The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter

RIYADH: Egypt’s unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent of the total labor force in the first quarter of 2021 — up from 7.2 percent in the previous quarter.
The new data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), reflects the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.
The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter, representing a decrease of 2.3 percent, Al Arabiya reported.
The labor force in urban areas reached 13,034 million, with 16,250 million living in rural areas.
Gehan Saleh, economic affairs adviser to Egypt’s prime minister said in April that the second stage of the country’s economic reform program would be launched soon.
She said the plan aims to improve the quality of life of citizens and tackle unemployment through job-creating investments.


Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
Updated 48 min 56 sec ago

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
  • It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods

DUBAI: Indian customs have foiled an attempt to post gold from Dubai disguised in containers of the popular Tang drink.

After sieving the contents of the drink mix, Chennai customs officials discovered it had been mixed with gold granules, according to a statement from the Commissioner of Customs at Chennai International Airport.
Officials probing the racket found that the address of the receiver had been misused.
It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods.
Earlier this year officials at Chennai airport also nabbed two men trying to smuggle gold through the airport underneath their wigs.
The hapless pair were nabbed after their unusual hairstyles caught the attention of officials.

They were found to be carrying two gold paste packets weighing almost 700 g


Review: Kate Winslet exudes quiet brilliance in sleuthing series ‘Mare of Easttown’

Kate Winslet shines in this small town murder mystery. (Supplied)
Kate Winslet shines in this small town murder mystery. (Supplied)
Updated 4 min 43 sec ago

Review: Kate Winslet exudes quiet brilliance in sleuthing series ‘Mare of Easttown’

Kate Winslet shines in this small town murder mystery. (Supplied)

CHENNAI: British actress Kate Winslet has dabbled in period pieces, rom-coms, dramas and everything in between, but in her latest outing in “Mare of Easttown,” a series streaming on OSN in the Middle East, she absolutely dazzles as a detective in a small, conservative town in Pennsylvania.

In bleak, deprived small-town America, everybody knows everybody and working as a cop is not easy for Winslet’s character Mare Sheehan.

Mare, who rarely smiles but is not grumpy or snappy, carries her own demons. She is tired and weighed down by grief over a family tragedy. Add to the mix a wayward ex-husband (played by David Denman) and a cagey daughter (Angourie Rice), and it seems her personal life is enough to fill a drama series on its own.

But this is a murder mystery, and soon our protagonist is faced with the unsolved case of a 19-year-old missing girl and more. The girl had been gone for a year, and her mother is a friend of Mare’s, which makes it difficult and personal for the detective. And it seems like a hard bolt from the blue when Erin (Cailee Spaeny), a single teenage mother, is found dead in the woods one night after townsfolk had gathered for a party.

The people of Easttown, used to leading uneventful lives, are not pleased with the ramped up police presence — including the intrusion of a county detective, Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) who is brought in to assist Mare — and it is into this tense atmosphere that Brad Ingelsby, who created and wrote the series, tweaks the formula to add a romantic angle.

Mare meets writer and guest lecturer Richard Ryan (an intelligent, witty and charming Guy Pearce), who is visiting the town.

The writer turns “Mare of Easttown” from what could have been a dull and boring story into something that leaves us thirsting for more at the end of each twisting episode, where every detail matters.

It is a fantastic study in both police work and, more interestingly, the effect a brutal crime has on a community. The series is ably led by director Craig Zobel, who builds a convincing narrative style.

Of course, his eyes are on the star of the series, and it is remarkable to see Winslet so engaging.


Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern

Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern
Updated 8 min ago

Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern

Arab League, Muslim World League condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinians, US expresses concern
  • Aboul Gheit called on the international community to act immediately to stop the violence
  • The Muslim World League has strongly condemned the attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque

CAIRO: The head of the Arab League condemned on Tuesday deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as “indiscriminate and irresponsible” and said Israel had provoked an earlier escalation in violence by its actions in Jerusalem.
“Israeli violations in Jerusalem, and the government’s tolerance of Jewish extremists hostile to Palestinians and Arabs, is what led to the ignition of the situation in this dangerous way,” Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.
The attacks in Gaza were a “miserable show of force at the expense of children’s blood,” he said.
Aboul Gheit called on the international community to act immediately to stop the violence, saying continuing “Israeli provocations” were an affront to Muslims on the eve of the Eid holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Arab League foreign ministers are holding a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the Muslim World League has strongly condemned the attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque, it said in a statement.
The organization, issued Tuesday went on to say that it rejected the escalations against worshippers.
Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League further denounced all acts of violence that undermined the dignity and rights of the Palestinian people, as well as provoking the feelings of Muslims around the world.
Al-Issa called on the International community to put an end to the violence, preserve the right of the Palestinian people, provide the necessary protection of civilians, guarantee their right to practice their religion, and stop all violations and attacks.
He also reiterated the affirmation of standing by the Palestinian people. He said he supports all peace efforts to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue.
He also said the solution should allow Palestinians to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as their capital, in accordance with international legitimacy decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Health officials in Gaza said at least 20 people, including nine children, were killed.


US actress, mogul Jessica Alba shows off Arab labels in New York

Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)
Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)
Updated 5 min 13 sec ago

US actress, mogul Jessica Alba shows off Arab labels in New York

Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US actress and business mogul Jessica Alba showed off a pair of dainty heels by Lebanese designer Andrea Wazen and accessories by part-Arab jewelry designer Ana Khouri while out and about in New York last week.

The actress — who is also the co-founder of the billion-dollar home care business The Honest Company — was in New York to visit NASDAQ headquarters for the IPO of her company.

Later, she was spotted walking in Manhattan and even appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” wearing a pair of dainty rose-colored mules by Wazen.

Alba showed off the Denver mesh mules in pink, which feature a translucent upper, thin ankle strap and elegant pointed toe shape. The heels complemented a dark sage green bag by Celine and a greige trench coat-and-sheath dress combination.

The entrepreneur and actress wore a pair of pink heels by Andrea Wazen. (Getty Images)

Wazen isn’t the only Arab designer Alba flaunted while out and about in New York. She attended the IPO of her company wearing chunky gold statement earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. 

New York-based Khouri has seen her pieces worn by everyone from Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron to Karlie Kloss and Alicia Vikander.

Wazen is also no stranger to celebrity fans, and has seen her designs sported by the likes of actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, model Ashley Graham, Katy Perry, Kylie Jenner and Jennifer Lopez during her “It’s My Party World Tour” in 2019.

The shoe designer is fresh off a win at the Footwear News (FN) Achievement Awards in December, nabbing the Emerging Talent prize.

“What a feeling… I cannot explain the joy and satisfaction I am feeling,” she wrote at the time, before thanking Michael Atmore, chief brand officer and the director of the event, for recognizing her as this year’s emerging talent, stylist Jill Jacobs for presenting her with the award and her team, who she said she couldn’t have “accomplished any of this” without.

“Last but not least, I would like to dedicate this award to my beautiful city, my source of inspiration and my home Beirut,” she wrote.