Recep Tayyip Erdogan

time 100 2016 Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Kayhan Ozer—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The man in the middle

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a remarkable leader. He has changed his country for the better by empowering millions of people who had never before participated in their nation’s political and economic life. He’s also an egotistical and thin-skinned person whose thirst for power has imperiled freedom of speech in Turkey and pushed his country toward authoritarianism. And between the war in Syria and the refugee crisis, he’s arguably occupying the most important geopolitical space in the world today. That makes him a valuable Western ally—and a dangerous one. Washington needs a strong NATO partner. Europe needs him to help manage the flow of migrants. It’s unlikely Erdogan will satisfy on either score. And at home, he will fail in his bid to change Turkey’s constitution to grant himself more power. Yet he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. For the West, the Erdogan challenge is just beginning.

Bremmer is the president of the Eurasia Group and the foreign-affairs columnist for News time

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