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Erdoğan’s War: The Quest for Power at Home and in Syria, with Gönül Tol

Academic and writer Gönül Tol came to Intelligence Squared to shed light on how Erdoğan established an iron grip on Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now Turkey’s longest-serving president. Since coming to power as Prime Minister in 2002 he has overseen a radical and brutal transformation of this pivotal country. Once a secular democracy with aspirations to join the European Union, Turkey has become a deeply nationalist, conservative country. Erdoğan has built a militaristic foreign policy abroad, intervening in regional flashpoints from Syria to Libya while dismantling democratic controls, clamping down on dissent and centralising power in the presidency at home. 

In September 2022, academic and writer Gönül Tol came to Intelligence Squared to shed light on how Erdoğan established an iron grip on the country. She will argue that the war in Syria has played a significant role in Turkey’s turn toward authoritarianism and how from fighting Kurdish militias in Northern Syria to leveraging refugees on the borders with Europe Erdoğan has used the war to his personal advantage. 




Gönül Tol

Founding director of the Middle East Institute’s Turkey program and a senior fellow for the Frontier Europe Initiative.

She is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies. She was also an adjunct professor at the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University. She has taught courses on Islamist movements in Western Europe, Turkey, world politics, and the Middle East.  She has written extensively on Turkey-U.S. relations, Turkish domestic politics, and foreign policy and the Kurdish issue. She is a frequent media commentator.  

Carl Miller

Research Director at Demos and author of The Death of The Gods: The New Global Power Grab

Research Director and co-founder of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at the think tank Demos. He presented the BBC's flagship technology programme 'Click' and is author of The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab which examines how new technologies change power dynamics in our societies. He was recently appointed to Chatham House's taskforce on Responsible AI.