Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Resigns

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Prime Minister of Turkey and chief policy adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan resigned last week amid escalating tension with Erdogan.

“We thought that we would have a four-year relationship,” Davutoglu said in remarks addressed to the party’s supporters. “That this lasted shorter is, rest assured, not of my choosing, but because of necessities that have emerged.”

Divisions boiled over last week when allies of Mr. Erdogan diluted Mr. Davutoglu’s power as leader of the AKP in a meeting while the prime minister was out of the country. Mr. Davutoglu was surprised that the AKP stripped him of the ability to appoint local political chiefs while he was on an official trip to Qatar. MorningStar

Davutoglu did not strongly support the presidential system that Erdogan wants in order to strengthen his power.

Crucially, Davutoglu gave only half-hearted support to a powerful presidential system, which Erdogan wanted to see “rapidly” introduced.

“Turkey is experiencing a systems crisis,” said Turkey analyst Ozgur Unluhisarcikli of the German Marshall Fund. “According to the constitution, Turkey is a parliamentary system, but the style of governance is a de facto presidential system. As in any de facto system, this causes uncertainties and inevitable friction.”

The biggest hint that Davutoglu’s days were numbered came late Sunday when an anonymous Turkish blog titled “Pelican Brief” — believed to have been authored by people close to Erdogan — aired the presidential camp’s alleged grievances with Davutoglu, including not advocating a presidential system strongly enough. Haaretz

The Kurds.  Erdogan has opposed resuming talks with the Kurdish rebels in Turkey.  The Prime Minister was open to talks with the Kurdish rebels if the were willing to withdraw fighters from Turkey.

Divisions between the Erdogan and Davutoglu camps first spilled into the open over the conflict with Kurdish militants in the southeast.

Erdogan took issue with Davutoglu after he spoke of the possibility of resuming peace talks with the PKK if it withdraws its armed fighters from Turkish territory. Erdogan said in a speech that it was out of the question for the peace process to restart, saying military operations would continue until the very last rebel is killed and the PKK threat is removed.

More fissures were apparent over Davutoglu’s opposition to the pre-trial detention of journalists accused of spying and academics accused of voicing support for the PKK. Erdogan spurned Davutoglu and even suggested that anyone deemed to be supportive of extremists should be stripped of citizenship. Haaretz

Migrant Deal

As revealed in the Financial Times, it was not Erdoğan but rather Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his team who negotiated the migrant deal. Davutoğlu hoped the deal would secure Europe’s assistance in tackling the major humanitarian challenge Turkey faces, while also setting Turkey on track towards visa liberalization with Europe. The latter would clearly strengthen Davutoglu’s hand in an ongoing, but fairly discreet, power struggle with Erdogan. A document, now known as “the Pelican brief,” has made this behind-the-scenes struggle public. The report lays out Erdogan’s displeasure over the fact that the migration deal was Davutoglu’s brainchild and reveals that the president had not been adequately consulted.  Brookings

Davutoglu was known as Erdogan’s more moderate counterpart.