The "Turkish Century" heralded by the re-election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially unfolds on Friday, generating interest in the individuals that the Turkish president will select for his cabinet. The economy, foreign policy, and security emerge as pivotal areas of significance during the initial crucial months of his new term.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Mehmeth Simsek, the first person Erdogan met after his election, is expected to be utilized in the field of the economy (as Vice President, economic advisor, or Minister of Finance). Simsek presents an interesting case as he is a person trusted by international economic actors and, if utilized, can serve as a strong political signal from Erdogan to the West (EU, US, IMF) regarding the unorthodox economic approach he attempted to manage the crisis within the past two years.
Furthermore, Suleyman Soylu and Hulusi Akar are considered immovable ministers in the ministries of the Interior and Defense, respectively. Soylu plays a significant role both in the AKP's machinery within the state apparatus and in the party's organization, particularly regarding the crucial upcoming elections in 10 months, which pose the next major challenge for Erdogan at the local government level, with a focus on major municipalities. According to experienced observers of Turkey, Akar enjoys Erdogan's trust and is deemed effective in his field.
Of particular interest is whether Berat Albayrak, Erdogan's son-in-law, will play a role in the new government. Despite his failure to manage Turkey's economic crisis as the former Finance Minister, he remains the connecting link between the Erdogan family and a vast "ecosystem" of political and economic elites that sustains President Erdogan's extensive patronage network and that of the AKP.
Finally, in the crucial context of Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, there are three tendencies within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first one advocates for Mevlut Cavusoglu to remain in his position. The second one suggests the utilization of Ibrahim Kalin, a powerful and ideological advisor to Erdogan known for his Eurasian and Islamic perspectives. Lastly, there is the consideration of leveraging the influential head of the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT), Hakan Fidan.
The "Cyprus file"
Several publications in the Turkish Cypriot press focus on the scenario of Hakan Fidan taking over the Cyprus issue if he is appointed as vice president or foreign minister. As known, the Cyprus issue is managed to a significant extent not only by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but also by the Turkish presidency, with Fuat Oktay, in conjunction with the Turkish "embassy" in the occupied Nicosia, handling Cyprus in recent years, especially since 2017, at the level of Turkish vice presidency.
The utilization of Fidan in the Turkish presidency, particularly in the Cyprus issue, constitutes a highly interesting development if confirmed, for several reasons:
- Hakan Fidan is considered a reformer of Turkey's security apparatus since he assumed office in 2010, implementing policies that modernized the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in terms of organization, operations, and budgets. In recent years, MIT has made significant strides with its strong footprint in clandestine operations abroad, both at the international and regional levels, including involvement in regional conflicts such as Syria, the Caucasus, and Libya, yielding tangible results on the ground.
- Due to the strong influence the MIT has gained in the geographic space of the Occupied Territories, it has become an integral part, acting as the "backyard of Turkey," carrying out activities associated with the Turkish deep state, the mechanism of the AKP, the close circle of Erdogan, as well as intelligence gathering and espionage operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Fidan's negotiating experience in critical national security and Turkish foreign policy matters is another reason for his involvement. Recently, he has been involved in negotiating crucial issues within the Russia-Syria-Turkey triangle, conducting meetings on Russian, Syrian, and Turkish soil. Moreover, he is believed to play a role in Turkey's communication with Israel and Egypt, both before and during the normalization of bilateral relations.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]