Davutoğlu, a lonely man

Davutoğlu, a lonely man

Sometimes political power is so slippery. It is like wet soap in one’s hands. It can just slide away in the blink of an eye. Once you have it, nothing is ever the same; once you lose it, nothing is ever the same too.

Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, an academic, became a part of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) decision-making team thanks to former President Abdullah Gül. He served as an advisor for foreign policy. He was lucky to climb the ladder during his career in politics. He became foreign minister and declared his famous “zero problems policy” with Turkey’s neighbors. In tough times he preferred to stay closer to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; he had been able to remain patient and resilient until he was actually “appointed” prime minister by Erdoğan. His term did not last long.  During his tenure first as foreign minister then as prime minister, Turkish-Israeli relations collapsed, Turkish-backed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was toppled by a coup and the ongoing war in Syria proved to be a miscalculation for Turkey. However, the primary move that probably lead to his end was the downing of the Russian warplane. Davutoğlu assumed full responsibility for the incident. 

Times are changing, so are politics, and apparently there is no room for those who cannot adapt.

Once his book “The Strategic Depth” became famous, it was like a bible among young conservative foreign policy enthusiasts. Davutoğlu has since published his second book, “Civilization and Cities.” The book was launched with a book signing ceremony by Davutoğlu. The event was in one of the biggest squares in Istanbul. One could say the event was crowded enough. Well, obviously nothing like the days when he held power. But people from I would not say all walks of life but rather all walks of conservative life were there.

Younger ones, older ones and women lined up to meet Davutoğlu and get his autograph. He chatted with his readers, took his time, did not hurry. He looked quite tired, his hair looked a bit different… probably he has been trying out a new cut with his new life. He broke his fast with his readers during the event. 

Davutoğlu has such unique features that you cannot actually understand whether he is angry, upset or happy. You cannot call his a poker face, but he always has that small fixed smile on his face, it never changes. Probably he was happy with the event or disappointed, who knows. Maybe his son, who with him all day long, was happy and maybe Osman Sert, a former journalist, who was with him from the first day Davutoğlu became foreign minister, never left him alone, as in this latest event.

None of the AKP’s big guns were there; no politician, no famous person. Davutoğlu was alone in that sense, with only his closest aides. 

From my point of view, his famous book was too ideological. His theory was so overrated by then. He was overrated as a foreign minister; he tried selling his “Neo Ottomanization” theory but could not gather admirers in the region. On the contrary, he just got on Arab peoples’ nerves, reminding them of the Ottomans’ occupant past. He declared a “restoration” in politics, referring to the Ottoman era. 

He implied the fall of the republic as we know it, and the return of the ancient empire. However, just like the once most-watched Turkish soap operas depicting the Ottoman era, his policies went out of fashion. He had been called “hoca” by the AKP entourage, implying he was a man of knowledge. But that was then. Now he is a man of failure. His rise was gradual but his fall was rapid. 

Davutoğlu signing his book by himself is a sign of the latest shift in Turkish foreign policy. As the saying goes, “when things get complicated, go back to the basics.”

This is what Turkey is doing right now.