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Idea of the Day: Erdoğan Should Focus on Addressing Turkey’s Serious Issues

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Last Tuesday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly stated that he had evidence that Israel orchestrated the July 3 military coup in Egypt, which overthrew the democratically elected government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. It soon emerged, however, that Prime Minister Erdoğan’s allegations were based on nothing more than a paranoid interpretation of a two-year-old YouTube video. But this allegation is just the latest example of the populist and increasingly inflammatory turn in Prime Minister Erdoğan’s rhetoric, designed to distract domestic political debate away from several serious challenges to Turkey’s growth and regional stability by exploiting resentment against Israel. The prime minister’s thinly veiled anti-Semitism is unhelpful to Turks and hurts Turkey’s image in the world.

Turkish economic growth has slowed significantly in recent weeks, and the country’s macroeconomic outlook is increasingly bleak. The expected slowdown in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus measures has reverberated through a number of emerging markets, none more so than Turkey. Turkey had enjoyed large capital inflows from investors seeking higher returns than they could earn from U.S. bonds, the prices of which were depressed by the Fed’s bond-buying program. But with the end of this stimulus, the bubble has begun to deflate. This slowdown has been particularly visible in light of a spate of large infrastructure and real-estate investments, such as the Gezi Park redevelopment that sparked Turkey’s recent protests; a new bridge across the Bosphorus, also known as the Istanbul Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara; and a new international airport, meant to be the world’s largest.

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