The political fallout of the Turkey earthquakes could be profound

Will the devastating earthquakes topple President Erdogan from power, asks Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 09 February 2023 17:03 GMT
The earthquake could change the political dynamics – but the question is how
The earthquake could change the political dynamics – but the question is how (Reuters)

Some natural disasters, however devastating, remain just that: natural disasters. Others trigger changes that might have taken much longer or never happened at all. The earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria this week could turn out to be among them, if not now, then in the coming months.

There can scarcely be any part of the world where such a disaster could potentially have a greater impact than here, along a fault line that is not only geological – but political and cultural. With the chaotic aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq, the rise of Isis, and Syria’s still not ended civil war, the region has experienced quite enough volatility in recent decades – without the addition of this major catastrophe.

That the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, had been gradually reasserting his power over most of Syria and was preparing for a meeting with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan – intended as a first step back to international acceptance – is a particularly grim irony. The fate of this encounter, and the prospects for a Turkey-Syria rapprochement, is just one of the big uncertainties created by the disaster.

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