It should have come as no surprise.
When Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu turned in his resignation Thursday, it was simply the culmination of mounting tensions that had been brewing between him and the country’s power-hungry president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for nearly a year now.
For months, Erdoğan has slowly been gnawing away at Davutoğlu’s powers in an unabashed bid to turn the Turkish republic into a totalitarian autocracy.
In the last year, Erdoğan has brazenly slashed media rights, imprisoned opposition leaders and encroached on his premier’s authority, while at the same time stepping up a barrage against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has led to numerous rebel attacks by both Kurdish and Islamic State militants.
Turkey, once the shining star of economic growth in the region, is also facing severe economic woes, complicated by a nonstop flood of political refugees from Iraq and Syria.
The strained annulment between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu comes after a long and turbulent marriage that began as an amiable partnership.
When he was elected president in 2014, Erdoğan hand-picked and groomed Davutoğlu to succeed him as prime minister and head of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), fully expecting that his prodigy would show proper reverence and due respect for his predecessor.
And for the few months in office, Davutoğlu lived up to Erdoğan’s expectations, humbly bowing to his authoritarian overlord and duly applying his stamp of approval to any and all mandates from the despotic president.
But in a prime example of the absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely maxim, Erdoğan overstepped even the most fundamental of basic freedoms in Turkey, which slowly courted Davotoğlu’s ire.
The president finally crossed the line with his disciple when he decided to rewrite the Turkish constitution to transform his largely ceremonial role as head of state into a monocratic supremacy, thus essentially nullifying any political wrenches Davutoğlu might have had left in his toolbox.
Rather than accept this rescission of power, Davutoğlu decided to make a quixotic gesture by resigning his post, which no doubt Erdoğan will soon fill with a more malleable lackey who will be more willing to do his bidding.
Meanwhile, the intellectual and moderate Davutoğlu will be relegated to a footnote with a could-have-been standing in modern Turkish history.
No doubt, Erdoğan will see the former prime minister as a convenient scapegoat to place the blame for his recent disastrous ventures into Syria and Iraq and his failed assaults on the PKK, even though it was Davutoğlu who tried to implement a policy of engaged negotiation rather than military confrontation with the Kurdish rebels.
And, for now, Erdoğan’s seemingly unstoppable and imperious one-man show keeps on rolling and the man who would be king of Turkey appears one step closer to grasping his unchecked throne.
This prospect bodes ill for Turkey and for the rest of the world, threatening to undo the fragile migrant pact between Ankara and Europe and hinting at a closer alliance between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which would lead to even more regional political imbalance and instability.
Indeed, Erdoğan’s autocrat thirst for power seems unquenchable, and unless someone can tether his unrelenting ambitions, the world could be facing another absolutist despot.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]