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Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkey’s ruling party appointed Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as its new chair and the nation’s prime minister to replace Tayyip Erdogan as he takes office as president. “I believe our candidate for party leadership and prime minister will realize the ideal of a new Turkey and the AKP’s targets for 2023” when modern Turkey celebrates its 100th anniversary, Erdogan said after the gathering. Davutoglu’s nomination awaited formal approval from the AK Party’s extraordinary congress on August 27, a day before Erdogan’s inauguration as Turkey’s 12th president.

Coming from an obscure impoverished mountain town in southern Turkey, Davutoglu's career was defined by struggle and self-confidence built on his meteoric rise. An academic known as the behind-the-scenes architect of Turkish foreign policy, Davutoglu has been extremely influential with both Erdogan and Gul since AKP came to power. He came into the spotlight after his secret meetings with Hamas leader Halid Mesal in the winter of 2006.

Professor Davutoglu is married with four children and speaks English, German and Arabic. Professor Ahmet Davutoglu was born on February 26th, 1959 in Konya. He completed his secondary education at the Istanbul High School. In 1983 he graduated from the Bosphorus University with a double major in Political Science and Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences. He completed his MA in the Department of Public Administration and received his PhD from the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bosporus University.

In 1990 he became an Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University of Malaysia where he established and chaired the Political Science Department until 1993. In 1993, he became an Associate Professor. Between 1995 and 1999 he has worked at Marmara University, teaching at the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, the Institute for Insurance and Banking, at the Doctoral Program on Local Administrations and Political Science Department. Between 1998 and 2002 he was a visiting lecturer at the Military Academy and the War Academy.

Following the November 2002 elections he was appointed as Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister and Ambassador at large by the 58th Government of the Republic of Turkey. He continued to serve in the 59th and 60th Governments. Ahmet Davutoglu, the Islamist foreign policy adviser to both Gul and Erdogan, was inclined to distance Turkey from the US and was said to be lost in neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies. Some had deluded themselves into thinking that the part of the Arab world once under the Ottoman Empire was nostalgic for the Ottomans.

Davutoglu saw "Eurasian" cooperation with Russia as the way to reestablish a dynamic Turkish presence in Central Asia. In 2003 Ahmet Davutoglu misled Erdogan and Gul to think they could prevent the U.S. operation against Saddam Hussein by preventing a northern option through Turkey. Davutoglu, whose Malaysianist/hard-line Sunni views appeared by 2005 to have deep influence on the government's foreign-policy "strategizing", continue to search for alternatives to the US/NATO in Syria, Iran, "Eurasia", and the Arab and broader Muslim world. In this regard, Davutoglu had asserted publicly and privately that the U.S. has been forced to come to terms with both Turkey's "indispensability" and the fact that Turkey has "viable alternatives".

He worked at Beykent University in Istanbul as a professor from 1995 to 2004, serving as Head of the Department of International Relations, Member of University Senate and Member of Board of Management while teaching as a visiting scholar at the Marmara University. Professor Davutoglu published several books and articles on foreign policy in Turkish and English. His books and articles have also been translated into several languages including Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Persian and Albanian.

On May 1, 2009 he was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the 60th Government of the Republic of Turkey. To shore up support for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) following its disappointing performance in March 29 local elections, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced May 1 an extensive overhaul of his cabinet, appointing nine new ministers, dismissing eight, and re-assigning 10. While many MFA diplomats had resented Davutoglu's strong influence on Turkey's external affairs, some welcomed the appointment of the theoretician with direct access to the top. Davutoglu was the first non-MP to serve as an AKP minister.

Davutoglu's multi-faceted foreign policy approach generally received appreciation, however some thought his approach spiralled out of control. Turkey's focus on Hizbullah and Hamas had not produced anything positive at all. Mediation efforts regarding Iran and Syria had not been successful either. It was good for foreign policy to have many facets, but there should be an overall focused goal as well. Davutoglu came from the perspective of producing policy and being proactive. He pursued a 'zero problem with neighbors' policy and a 'soft power role' in the Middle East policy from the beginning.

One of the first priorities of the new prime minister was to repair relations with Turkey’s allies and neighbors. Turkish relations with the East and West was quite significantly strained. There is also nothing going on with the European Union. Davutoglu's power was limited by his standing within the party. He was one of the names that party people mention, but it was not an exhilarating enthusiastic support for him. Davutoglu pledged to support President-elect Erdogan’s goal of introducing constitutional reform to turn Turkey into a presidential system.

While Erdogan chose Davutoglu as the leader of the AK Party, since the November 2015 election victory, he became very much his own man. He may have lost the first elections, but he did win the second. And not only did he win it, he brought home a landslide. So at one point or another he is going to rely on this fact. Davutoglu does represent a more moderate and perhaps slightly liberal line. Davutoglu described a presidential system strictly controlled by a strong checks and balances mechanism.

By early 2016 there were reports of growing differences between the prime minister and Erdogan. Supporters of the president accused Davutoglu of opposing Erdogan's ambitions of replacing Turkey's current parliamentary system with a presidential one, while Davutoglu tentatively voiced concerns over an ongoing crackdown on critics of the president.

In April 2016 the Turkish military crackdown on the Kurdish rebel group the PKK became the focal point of growing differences between the president and prime minister. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu opened the door to a resumption of peace talks with the PKK if it withdrew its forces from Turkey. That drew a swift rebuke from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who ruled out talks, saying the rebels either had to surrender or be killed.

On May 05, 2016 Davutoglu said he will step down as his ruling AK Party announced an extraordinary congress to elect a new leader. Davutoglu’s decision came amid reports of his growing differences with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a carefully worded statement to the country’s media, Davutoglu said he would be stepping down at the AK Party congress to be held on May 22. He claimed his premiership has been a success, underlining his landslide victory in last November's election. But alluding to growing differences over his leadership, he said he was stepping down for the sake of unity and consensus in the party.

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Page last modified: 19-05-2016 20:26:41 ZULU