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Daily News Analysis

Why Turkey failed to become the economic hub of the Muslim world

Crescent International

Considering that Turkey does not face any Western economic sanctions and is well integrated into the global economic system, its economy could be in a far better situation than it is right now.

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political party came to power in 2002, the AKP’s early years were praised for its economic performance.

Even the Western corporate media was projecting Erdogan and his political party in positive light.

The AKP government in the early 2000s was presented as one willing to structure Turkey’s economy in accordance with the West’s economic narrative and those with whom the West could do business.

Since Turkey was emerging from the 1990s when it was plagued by incompetence, nepotism, and economic and political crises, it was not difficult for the AKP to look better than previous governments.

Nevertheless, a country that is a geopolitical and economic bridge between Europe and Asia, and enjoys a relatively favorable position in Western corridors of power, should have become one of the key manufacturing hubs of the world.

Purely from a logistical perspective, focusing on converting Turkey into a manufacturing hub would significantly reduce Ankara’s dependence on Western dominated economic institutions and mechanisms.

This was not achieved mainly because from politics to economics, the current Turkish leadership wants to have its cake and eat it too.

Since President Erdogan came to power in Turkey almost 20 years ago, the AKP government has tried to play both sides of the field.

It is part of NATO’s political and economic architecture but also wants to appear as the vanguard of Islamic revival in the Muslim world.

In November 2020, Erdogan pompously stated that “We don’t see ourselves elsewhere but in Europe, We envisage building our future together with Europe.”

While some Erdogan supporters dismiss such rhetoric as shrewd politics, the AKP’s overall economic steps have done little to recalibrate Turkey’s economy away from Western dominated economic institutions.

The current government’s rise to power was mainly due to its Islamic ethos, which it promised to put into practice by vigorously fighting corruption.

Corruption remains one of the most impeding obstacles to Turkey’s economic development and is one of the key reasons Erdogan’s popularity is currently taking a hit domestically.

It appears that AKP’s current leadership does not have the political will to clean up its ranks and modify its long established ways of running the economy.

This is mainly out of domestic political considerations, as this sort of crackdown can initiate a turbulent infighting within the AKP.

Another key indicator that Turkey’s current leadership is not genuinely interested in recalibrating Turkish economy is Ankara’s multibillion dollar trade with Israel.

Turkey realizes that cutting Israel’s economic lifeline will trigger a reaction from Western regimes.

Such reaction will likely hurt Turkey economically.

If the leadership had a serious strategy to reconfigure Turkey’s economy, it would not fear Western economic pressure.

After almost twenty years in power, it should have been able to reorient its economy away from Western influence.

The fact that it did not, shows that it is not genuinely interested in an alternative economic system.

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