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The Failed Autocrat

Despite Erdogan's Ruthlessness, Turkey's Democracy Is Still on Track

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan attends a meeting in Ankara on May 19, 2014. Courtesy Reuters

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once the darling of the international community, but no more. He is still sometimes praised for stewarding Turkey through impressive economic growth, defanging a Turkish military establishment with a long history of meddling in national politics, and initiating a promising peace process with the country’s restive Kurdish population. But Erdogan’s achievements are now shadowed by his undeniable lurch toward autocracy. Over the last year, he has initiated a harsh crackdown against peaceful protesters, political opponents, and independent media outlets. (According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at one point, the number of journalists jailed in Turkey even exceeded the number in Iran and China.)

The worst developments of all began last December. That was when, in order to quell a perceived threat from an erstwhile ally, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, Erdogan fired thousands of prosecutors, judges,

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