On Thursday, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a strong advocate for military intervention in the Syrian war, reacted angrily to the United States’ decision to delay a military strike there — a decision analysts said had left Mr. Erdogan more politically vulnerable at home. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/world/middleeast/for-turkeys-leader-syrias-war-worsens-his-problems-at-home.html?ref=world In a speech to a trade group, Mr. Erdogan said that the Russian proposal that headed off the planned airstrikes amounted to little more than a stalling tactic.
It was another frustrating setback for Mr. Erdogan, who was one of the first leaders to call for Mr. Assad to leave power. In recent months, he has come under attack at home for violently dispersing protests focused on what critics called his rising authoritarianism. Upheaval in the Middle East has stymied the prime minister’s ambitions for regional leadership, while fraying Turkey’s alliances. And now, he finds himself at sharper odds with a public that largely opposes direct involvement in the war — including a growing number of his own supporters.
“The public is very reluctant about military action, and we have a prime minister who wants drastic military action,” Cengiz Candar, a Turkish political columnist, said. “He invested all his assets in the American-led action, and it hasn’t come.”
Turkey lost its bid to host the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, in what was seen at least partially as a consequence of the government’s response to the protests.
And Turkey’s relations with Egypt have been all but severed since the Egyptian military ousted former President Mohamed Morsi, one of Mr. Erdogan’s closest regional allies.
And after weeks of relative quiet, protests erupted in Istanbul and several other Turkish cities, in a continuation of the unrest that started in May, after the government announced plans to build an Ottoman-style barracks in Gezi Park in Istanbul.
The latest demonstrations were called to protest the death of a 22-year-old protester in the southern city of Antakya, in circumstances that remained unclear. As protesters dodged riot police officers on Tuesday, they cataloged a growing list of complaints with the government, including its policy on Syria.
“You would have thought he learned his lesson at Gezi, but nothing has changed,” said Lal Coskun, a private tutor, who added that deeper involvement in the Syrian war would pose a threat to Turkey’s national security. “Erdogan is once again doing what he wants without considering what the people of Turkey want,” she added.
Even so, they have had a hard time convincing Turkish citizens. A recent poll by the German Marshall Fund found that 72 percent of Turks thought their government should stay out of Syria “completely.”