Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

What Will the Next Türkiye Look Like?

Today, the citizens of Türkiye will vote in the second round of the presidential election. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the strong favorite, meaning that the region has to deal with a third decade of Erdogan, who is now 69 years old.

Now, the question is which Erdogan will we be dealing with. The region has seen Erdogan undergo several phases. Erdogan the economic success story, then Erdogan the resistance figure backing the Palestinian cause, then the Erdogan who sought to quell all tensions, and then the Erdogan of the Arab Spring, who believed that the region would serve Türkiye through the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, we saw the Erdogan of reconciliation with the region, first from Saudi Arabia to the UAE, and now Egypt; meanwhile, disputes with the West remain, and after clashing with the Russians over the Syrian revolution, he has begun making overtures to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Each of these phases is very different from the other, and we continue to feel each of their repercussions to this day.

Today, a Turkish phase is upon us. The West, and even more Turkish secularists, believe that outwardly, it looks like other movements of political Islam. In Türkiye, it is seen as neo-Ottomanism, and if this is true, then the proxies of this neo-Ottomanism are the Muslim Brotherhood.

Political Islam, or neo-Ottomanism, which Erdogan chose to symbolize through the Hagia Sophia, lacks the capacity to improve Türkiye’s economy. However, the election results show that ideology is more decisive, as Erdogan remains popular despite the state of the economy and the earthquake.

What matters to us is the impact that all of this will have on the region. Indeed, Türkiye has established a presence and intervened in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Azerbaijan. It also has ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, plays a significant role in the region’s economy, and has relations with Iran and Israel.

All of this comes as the region is trying to focus on what unites it, not what different actors diverge on. The region is now seeking development opportunities, not political polarization. This is a massive shift, and Erdogan excelled economically at first.

If Erdogan had left the scene after making his economic achievement, which turned Türkiye from a state on the decline to a prosperous country, he would have been a symbol of economic rejuvenation and reform, as well as a Brotherhood figure and a symbol of neo-Ottomanism.

What happened happened, and Erdoganism became volatile and turbulent, and this had repercussions for the region as a whole. Thus, the question becomes: What will the next Erdogan look like in his new term? Indeed, Erdogan and his team see this term as the crowning moment of his political life, given his age and the political circumstances.

This issue should certainly preoccupy everyone concerned. It raises political, economic, and of course, security questions. I am talking about the region, where everyone is keen on development and stability. Within Türkiye, questions have started to be asked, and the same is true for the West.

We are interested in examining the state of affairs in Türkiye, and we want to try to predict its future. We want to know what to expect, both the difficulties and the positives that we will see. Indeed, its future will have ramifications for economic, military and political issues in several regions.

Our region is concerned with the Türkiye that will emerge today. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have taken a keen interest for economic and political reasons, as questions remain regarding Turkish-Egyptian relations, the Syrian and Libyan crises, Turkish-Iranian relations, and its ties to Russia, the West, and the US.

For now, we have questions, and we must search deeply for answers.