Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded to the unprecedented protests sweeping his country by suppressing dissent and adopting threatening and socially divisive rhetoric against his perceived enemies. The result of this attempt to tighten his grip on power has been to deepen the fissures in Turkish society, creating the risk of sustained uncertainty and even of severe domestic instability.
Erdogan has refused to accept that the protests could have been caused by his own policies. Instead, he has blamed the unrest on a Western conspiracy to try to halt what he maintains has been Turkey's rise to greatness during his premiership. However outlandish such claims may appear, there is little doubt that Erdogan believes them. Consequently, although the long-term repercussions of the protests remain unclear, in the short term they appear likely to accelerate Erdogan's identification with the predominantly Sunni Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa in an attempt to establish Turkey as a regional power in apposition to the West.