SONER CAGAPTAY, DIRECTOR OF TURKISH RESEARCH PROGRAM, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY
On this edition of the program, Soner Cagaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of “The Rise of Turkey,” discusses with host Carol Castiel and Dakhil Shammou, broadcaster in VOA’s Kurdish Service, the domestic and foreign policy challenges facing Turkey. Once held up as a model of democracy for Muslim majority countries during the Arab Spring uprisings, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has come under attack for alleged corruption scandals and muzzling of free speech. Regarding foreign policy, Cagaptay says that Ankara’s previous “zero problems with neighbors” policy has been turned on its head since countries bordering Turkey, namely Syria and Iraq, are wracked by violence and sectarian conflict which threaten Turkey’s stability. Cagaptay argues that one bright spot is Turkey’s relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq, which acts as a buffer against ISIL, the extremist al-Qaida offshoot, which has captured key Iraqi cities and threatens to overrun the Maliki government.