Top Risk No. 10: Turkey

By Ian Bremmer and David Gordon Domestically, an increasingly unpopular AK party, facing popular fallout from the economic downturn, is embroiled in intractable and increasingly interlinked fights with the judiciary, industrialists, and the military. The party’s experiment with trying to buy some support from Turkey’s Kurdish population failed, which not only loses them the Kurds ...

By , the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

By Ian Bremmer and David Gordon

Domestically, an increasingly unpopular AK party, facing popular fallout from the economic downturn, is embroiled in intractable and increasingly interlinked fights with the judiciary, industrialists, and the military. The party's experiment with trying to buy some support from Turkey's Kurdish population failed, which not only loses them the Kurds but many Turks if there's further social instability as a consequence -- as seems likely. Meanwhile, there's growing political pressure within the AK party to keep would-be splinter Islamist forces onside and to formulate policies that appeal to more emotive calls from that base.

Turkey's international orientation is moving away from Europe and closer to Iran and Syria -- driving further domestic wedges between Turkey's Islamists and secularists. And while Turkey's EU candidate membership status isn't going to shift in 2010, the threat of confrontation looms larger, especially as Cyprus negotiations, which seemed on a strong track, now look like they might leap off the rails. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's principal diplomatic success is with Armenia. That's important historically, but not for the country's relationship with creditors at the IMF. And though Iraq looks better (more on that in a moment), if there's a worry, it's the unsettled status of Iraq's Kurdish north -- just across the border from Turkey.

By Ian Bremmer and David Gordon

Domestically, an increasingly unpopular AK party, facing popular fallout from the economic downturn, is embroiled in intractable and increasingly interlinked fights with the judiciary, industrialists, and the military. The party’s experiment with trying to buy some support from Turkey’s Kurdish population failed, which not only loses them the Kurds but many Turks if there’s further social instability as a consequence — as seems likely. Meanwhile, there’s growing political pressure within the AK party to keep would-be splinter Islamist forces onside and to formulate policies that appeal to more emotive calls from that base.

Turkey’s international orientation is moving away from Europe and closer to Iran and Syria — driving further domestic wedges between Turkey’s Islamists and secularists. And while Turkey’s EU candidate membership status isn’t going to shift in 2010, the threat of confrontation looms larger, especially as Cyprus negotiations, which seemed on a strong track, now look like they might leap off the rails. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s principal diplomatic success is with Armenia. That’s important historically, but not for the country’s relationship with creditors at the IMF. And though Iraq looks better (more on that in a moment), if there’s a worry, it’s the unsettled status of Iraq’s Kurdish north — just across the border from Turkey.

In short, country risk is hitting Turkey from just about every side. By year’s end, the fight for the coming year’s elections will heat up. Unlike in Brazil, 2011 doesn’t look like a bounce.

Next up: This year’s "red herrings" … the places and problems where we think there is less risk than meets the eye.

Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group, and David Gordon is the firm’s head of research.

Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. He is also the host of the television show GZERO World With Ian Bremmer. Twitter: @ianbremmer

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