Steady the Ship

Being a strong ally of President Erdoğan, Ahmet Davutoğlu's rise to the top was complete in 2014 when he was appointed leader of the AK Party and Prime Minster of Turkey.

Tasked with the job of following on from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as Prime Minister and Leader of the AK Party, Ahmet Davutoğlu took the reins in August 2014 having previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Erdoğan between 2009 and 2014. Looking back over Davutoğlu’s life, his rise to the top has been quite rapid, him having only really entered politics in 2002 as Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister, which at the time was Erdoğan, and Ambassador-at-Large by the 58th Government of the Republic of Turkey.

Going back in his life, Davutoğlu’s professional background lies in the academic world. After graduating from Bosphorus University in 1983 with a double major in Political Science and Economics, he then completed his MA in the Department of Public Administration before receiving his PhD from the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Bosphorus University. In 1990, he started his professional career and became the Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, where he also established and chaired the Political Science Department. He stayed in this role until 1993 when he became the Associate Professor. In 1995, he then moved to Mamara University and was busy teaching at the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, the Institute for Insurance and Banking, as well as at the Doctoral level in the Local Administrations and Political Science Department. In 1998, he became a visiting lecturer at the Military Academy and the War Academy, a job he stayed in until 2002 when he was appointed Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister. During this time, he also worked at Beykent University in Istanbul as a Professor between 1995 and 2004, where he served as Head of the Department of International Relations, Member of the University Senate, and Member of the Board of Management. On top of all this, he has also published a number of books and articles on foreign policy in both Turkish and English, which have been translated into several languages.
Davutoğlu has long been a close ally of Erdoğan, and was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2009 even though he was a member of parliament. It wasn’t until 2011 when he won election in Konya and entered the Grand National Assembly. During his time as Foreign Minister, he became quite well known around the world and was listed in the Foreign Policy magazine as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010 and again in 2011. He was also the architect of the Zero Problems Policy. The fundamental idea behind this policy was for Turkey to have zero problems with its neighbors. However, the outbreak of the Civil War in Syria led to the breakdown of the policy. The basis of the policy lies on four pillars: indivisibility of security, dialogue, economic independence, and cultural harmony and mutual respect. The basic goal of the Zero Problems Policy was to integrate different nationals develop cultural understanding between faiths and races. During his time as Foreign Minister, Davutoğlu had to oversee a number of crises, including the Arab Spring, which saw the fall of a number of governments, the Syrian Civil War and ISIS, Russia and the Crimea, and the Mavi Marmara incident.

Davutoğlu was put forward as the leadership candidate on August 21, 2014, and shortly after became the leader of the party and the country. His close alliance with Erdoğan played a significant role, especially during the Gezi protests and the attack on the government by Fethullah Gülen and his supports. However, President Erdoğan is a difficult man to follow and the country is facing a number of difficulties that need to be addressed. The Syrian Civil War south of the border is growing more brutal and dragging more of its neighbors in, evidenced by the fact that Turkey began an air campaign against the PKK and ISIS in August 2015 following a suicide bomb attack by ISIS in the southern town of Suruç. Due to this and the AK Party failure in the election to retain its majority and form a government, it means the economy is also suffering with the lira reaching record highs against the dollar. With another election coming up in November, Davutoğlu must make a strong appearance to bring back some stability to the country and ease investor worries.

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