Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now Turkey’s longest-serving president. Since coming to power as Prime Minister in 2002 he has overseen a radical and brutal transformation of this pivotal country. Once a secular democracy with aspirations to join the European Union, Turkey has become a deeply nationalist, conservative country. Erdoğan has built a militaristic foreign policy abroad, intervening in regional flashpoints from Syria to Libya while dismantling democratic controls, clamping down on dissent and centralising power in the presidency at home.
In September 2022, academic and writer Gönül Tol came to Intelligence Squared to shed light on how Erdoğan established an iron grip on the country. She will argue that the war in Syria has played a significant role in Turkey’s turn toward authoritarianism and how from fighting Kurdish militias in Northern Syria to leveraging refugees on the borders with Europe Erdoğan has used the war to his personal advantage.