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Erdoğan the Diplomat?

Few leaders have managed to use today’s geopolitical tensions to their advantage as effectively as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the West seeks to stem the erosion of the rules-based international order, his might be an example worth learning from – and a potentially useful stopgap.

MADRID – A ship loaded with grain has departed from a Ukrainian port. The shipment – the first to leave the country in months – was made possible by a recent agreement between Russia and Ukraine that was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. For people in Africa and the Middle East, the deal offers a glimmer of hope that severe food shortages will soon ease. For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it is a diplomatic victory – and far from his first.

Facing formidable domestic challenges – including growing political opposition, huge numbers of refugees, a plummeting currency, and a deteriorating economy – Erdoğan has seemingly made it his mission to rack up foreign-policy achievements ahead of next year’s election. And he has achieved considerable success.

Erdoğan has been making progress in mending fences with the Gulf monarchies, after a decade of strained relations. And while the grain deal’s survival is far from guaranteed – Russia launched missile strikes on the port city of Odessa the day after the agreement was signed in Istanbul – it has already cemented Turkey’s position as a regional power broker.

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