Turkish voters on April 16, 2017 face a referendum to shift to a presidential system and further empower Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Whether Erdogan were to succeed in his long-sought consolidation of authority or suffer a reversal, Turkish policies on the economy, domestic issues, the Kurdish question, regional security, and engagement with the U.S. and NATO would all be affected by the referendum’s outcome.
The Middle East Institute (MEI) Center for Turkish Studies was pleased to host Kemal Kirisci (Brookings), Omer Taspinar (Brookings), and Amberin Zaman (Wilson Center, Al Monitor) for an analysis of the plebiscite, its political context, and potential consequences of the vote. Gönül Tol (MEI) moderated the discussion.
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Kemal Kirisci is the TÜSİAD senior fellow and director of the Center on the United States and Europe's Turkey Project at Brookings, with an expertise in Turkish foreign policy and migration studies. Within the project, Kirisci runs the Turkey Project Policy Paper series and frequently writes on the latest developments out of Turkey. His forthcoming book, “Turkey and the West: Faultlines in a Troubled Alliance,” will be published by the Brookings Institution Press in July 2017. He is the co-author of the monograph "The Consequences of Chaos: Syria's Humanitarian Crisis and the Failure to Protect" (Brookings Institution Press, April 2016), which considers the long-term economic, political, and social implications of Syria's displaced and offers policy recommendations to address the humanitarian crisis. Before joining Brookings, Kirisci was a professor of international relations and held the Jean Monnet chair in European integration in the department of political science and international relations at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Omer Taspinar is a nonresident senior fellow in the Center on 21st Century Security and Intelligence and an expert on Turkey, the European Union, Muslims in Europe, political Islam, the Middle East, and Kurdish nationalism. He is a professor at the National War College and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He has held consulting positions at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in Washington, and at the strategic planning department of TOFAS-FIAT in Istanbul. The courses he has taught at the National War College and SAIS are: Islam and the west; non-military elements of statecraft; Turkey and its neighbors; and the political economy of globalization.
Public Policy Fellow, Middle East Program & Global Europe Program, Wilson Center; Al Monitor Columnist
Amberin Zaman is a public policy fellow in the Middle East and Global Europe programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center. She covered Turkey and regional conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Azerbaijan for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Voice of America and The Daily Telegraph before becoming The Economist's Turkey correspondent (1999-2015). She is currently a columnist for the independent online Turkish news portal Diken and for Al Monitor’s “Pulse of The Middle East.”
Gönül Tol, moderator
Founding Director, Center for Turkish Studies, Middle East Institute
Gönül Tol is the founding director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies. She is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies and authors a weekly column for the liberal Turkish daily Radikal. She previously worked at the U.S. Representative Office of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD) and has lectured as an adjunct professor at the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University. She writes extensively on Turkey-U.S. relations, Turkish domestic politics, Turkish foreign policy, and the Kurdish issue. She is a frequent media commentator on Islamist movements in Western Europe and Turkish politics. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Florida International University, where she was a graduate fellow at the Middle East Studies Center.