Author: Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent scholar residing in İstanbul, with a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans and the Greater Middle East. He tweets at @theerimtanangle
After a decade of AKP rule, under the popular yet divisive leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has finally become an important regional player in the Middle East and Europe.
The past decade has seen amazing growth in economic terms and this booming economy necessarily led to greater political clout – a situation relished by Tayyip Erdogan, who has been acting accordingly ever since. His moment in the sun at Davos five years ago, when he defiantly walked out on Israel’s President Shimon Peres, launched him into the global limelight, turning him into a hero for many disenfranchised Muslims worldwide and transforming him into a global leader of some import. But is the Turkish economic miracle, constituting the base of this new political power, a reality or merely a chimera?
Over the past ten years, Turkey has enjoyed an average economic growth rate of 5.2 percent a year, a trend which started to waver in 2011 according to Fadi Hakura, Turkey analyst at the London-based think tank, Chatham House. In fact, the economic boom was built with the income provided by the ruthless privatization program instituted by the AKP government. Speaking on the radio station Voice of Russia recently, Hakura explained that the AKP-led privatizing drive was a “revenue maximizing privatization,” making large amounts of cash readily available to invest in all kinds of profitable ventures, particularly property development and real estate.