Turkey’s 2007 Elections: Crisis of Identity and Power

The effort of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to elect one of its own to be president of the Republic provoked a crisis. The nominee, the otherwise respected Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, has roots in Turkey’s Islamist movement and his wife wears a head scarf, which some secularists consider a symbol of both Islamism and backwardness. Moreover, because AKP already controls the prime ministry and parliament, it was argued that the balance of political power would be disturbed if the party also assumed the presidency.

The opposition engaged in mass demonstrations, boycotted the first round of the vote for president in parliament, and petitioned the Constitutional Court to annul the vote, while the General Staff of the armed forces warned that the military would act if “needs be” as the defender of secularism. After the Court invalidated the vote, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called early national elections and proposed a package of constitutional amendments, including one for the direct election of president. A national referendum on the amendments will be held on October 21.

National elections were held on July 22. AKP registered a victory of historic proportions, while two opposition parties and many independents also won seats in parliament. On August 28, the new legislature elected Gul president. The military and others will be closely monitoring his performance for Islamist tendencies. Meanwhile, the Erdogan government has a challenging program, including drafting a new constitution and advancing economic reforms.

During the crisis, the European Union and the U.S. government had urged Turks to adhere to their constitutional processes and warned the military not to intervene. Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, but the EU’s influence in Turkey is limited because some European countries and many Turks have lost their enthusiasm for Turkey’s accession. The official U.S. reaction to events appeared to lag behind that of the EU, with Washington issuing a somewhat belated warning to the military. Terrorism was a major issue in the campaign, and tensions between Turkey and the United States continue over U.S. inaction against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish terrorist group harbored in northern Iraq. AKP’s views on this issue are somewhat more considered than the nationalist opposition parties in parliament. Prime Minister Erdogan is pursuing a diplomatic approach, but the possibility of a Turkish military incursion into Iraq with attendant consequences for relations with the United States and Iraqi stability persists. This report will be updated as developments warrant.

Turkey's 2007 Elections: Crisis of Identity and Power

September 10, 2007 (RL34039)


The effort of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to elect one of its own to be president of the Republic provoked a crisis. The nominee, the otherwise respected Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, has roots in Turkey's Islamist movement and his wife wears a head scarf, which some secularists consider a symbol of both Islamism and backwardness. Moreover, because AKP already controls the prime ministry and parliament, it was argued that the balance of political power would be disturbed if the party also assumed the presidency.

The opposition engaged in mass demonstrations, boycotted the first round of the vote for president in parliament, and petitioned the Constitutional Court to annul the vote, while the General Staff of the armed forces warned that the military would act if "needs be" as the defender of secularism. After the Court invalidated the vote, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called early national elections and proposed a package of constitutional amendments, including one for the direct election of president. A national referendum on the amendments will be held on October 21.

National elections were held on July 22. AKP registered a victory of historic proportions, while two opposition parties and many independents also won seats in parliament. On August 28, the new legislature elected Gul president. The military and others will be closely monitoring his performance for Islamist tendencies. Meanwhile, the Erdogan government has a challenging program, including drafting a new constitution and advancing economic reforms.

During the crisis, the European Union and the U.S. government had urged Turks to adhere to their constitutional processes and warned the military not to intervene. Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, but the EU's influence in Turkey is limited because some European countries and many Turks have lost their enthusiasm for Turkey's accession. The official U.S. reaction to events appeared to lag behind that of the EU, with Washington issuing a somewhat belated warning to the military. Terrorism was a major issue in the campaign, and tensions between Turkey and the United States continue over U.S. inaction against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish terrorist group harbored in northern Iraq. AKP's views on this issue are somewhat more considered than the nationalist opposition parties in parliament. Prime Minister Erdogan is pursuing a diplomatic approach, but the possibility of a Turkish military incursion into Iraq with attendant consequences for relations with the United States and Iraqi stability persists. This report will be updated as developments warrant.

Turkey's 2007 Elections: Crisis of Identity and Power

The Crisis


The seven-year term of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was scheduled to expire on May 16, 2007, and parliament (the Grand National Assembly) was required to elect a successor by that date. Since November 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a party with Islamist roots which claims a conservative democratic orientation, controlled a comfortable majority in parliament, but its numbers fell short of the two-thirds needed to elect a president in the first and second rounds of a vote. Sezer, a former head of the Constitutional Court, is an ardent secularist who often vetoed AKP-proposed laws and appointments that he found conflicted with the founding nationalist and secularist principles of the state. Both the AKP and its secularist opponents understood that much was at stake in the choice of Sezer's replacement.

On April 25, 2007, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan named Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to be the AKP's candidate for president. In doing so, Erdogan appears to have severely misjudged his opposition, failed to provide sufficient time for thoughtful discussion, and contributed to one of the worst political crises in recent Turkish history.


Gul is widely respected as an effective foreign minister who helped to secure the opening of Turkey's membership talks with the European Union (EU) in 2005 and worked to smooth relations with the United States. He promised to act according to secularist principles if elected president. Nonetheless, secularists considered him to be a controversial candidate partly because of his prominent role in two past, banned, Islamist parties and mainly because his wife wears a strictly Islamic head scarf covering all of her hair (called a turban in Turkey). Turkish women are prohibited from wearing the head scarf in public institutions, which President Sezer interpreted to include the presidential palace, Çankaya.1 Secularists view the head scarf as a symbol both of Islamism and of retrogression to a time before Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, imposed Westernizing reforms on the country in the 1920s and 1930s. As one of those reforms, Ataturk imported to Turkey the French concept of laicite, a stricter version of secularism than that practiced in the United States, to Turkey.2 Thus, because of Mrs. Gul's head scarf, the choice of a president became an emotional fight for the identity of the state.


The opposition also argued that Erdogan's insistence on an AKP president threatened Turkey's balance of powers.3 The AKP already controlled the prime ministry and parliament. The presidency would allow it to dominate other branches of government because of the president's power to appoint the Chief of Staff of the armed forces, Constitutional Court judges, the Higher Education Board, and university rectors—all still bastions of secularism. The President also has substantial veto powers. President Sezer vetoed other high level government appointments liberally to prevent the AKP from achieving control over more levers of state power in the bureaucracy and vetoed some legislation, thereby delaying AKP's pursuit of both its reform and religion-favoring agendas.4

A counter-argument maintained that if AKP elected a president, then the voters could have restored the balance of power by denying the party a mandate in national elections then scheduled to be held in November 2007. From this perspective, the secularists did not need to provoke a crisis over the election of a president to preserve the balance of power. They simply had to win the parliamentary elections.5 This argument might lead to the conclusion that the opposition lacked confidence in its ability to defeat AKP at the polls and chose other, some would say less democratic, means to achieve this goal.

To some extent, the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is a party of the armed forces, bureaucracy, legal system, and academe, in other words the historic secular elite, fighting to retain its powers. On the other side is the AKP, a party of the aspiring lower and new middle and upper classes, seeking to expand their powers.


The Republican People's Party (CHP), Ataturk's party, champion of secularism, and the main opposition party in parliament, had called on Erdogan to choose a "consensus" candidate for president and criticized him for not consulting before nominating Gul. Yet, following traditional practice of allowing the majority party to present a candidate, CHP never suggested a consensus candidate or named its own candidate for the presidency.

Even before Erdogan's nomination of Gul, CHP leader Deniz Baykal had urged other parties in parliament to boycott the first round of the vote for president in order to deprive the AKP of the votes required to elect its candidate and to force early national elections. Secularist non-governmental organizations had begun mobilizing with a mass protest in Ankara on April 14, then targeting a possible Erdogan presidential candidacy. After the Gul nomination, unprecedentedly large demonstrations followed in major cities and some other urban areas against what participants viewed as a threat of AKP dominance.

On April 27, parliament convened for the first round of voting to elect a president. Under the Constitution, two-thirds or 367 votes from 550 Members of Parliament are required to elect a president in the first two rounds. A majority or 276 votes are required in third and fourth rounds. Early parliamentary elections ensue if the legislators are unable to elect a president. AKP held 353 seats; Gul received 357 votes with 361 deputies present. CHP argued that a quorum of 367 attendees was required for the first round to be valid; it boycotted the vote in order to render it invalid. CHP then petitioned the Constitutional Court to nullify the vote.

Military Intervention

The Turkish military founded the modern Turkish Republic, views itself as the protector of the Republic and its secular principles, and has been instrumental in the ouster of four civilian governments since 1960. The armed forces oversaw the drafting of the current constitution after a 1980 coup. The AKP government has passed reforms to diminish the role of the military and to comply with European Union (EU) demands for civilian control over the military. Yet, the military remains the most respected institution in Turkey with considerable influence over non-military matters. It has defined the major threats to the state as separatism and "reactionism" or Islamic fundamentalism.

Many observers believed that the military would not silently permit the AKP, with its Islamist origins, to elect one of its own as the next president.6 Some secularists appeared to wish openly that the military would intervene in the process. Chief of the General Staff General Yasar Buyukanit issued a clear warning to the AKP on April 12, when he expressed hope that a new president would be committed to secularism "not in words but in essence."7

Then, shortly before midnight on April 27, after the first round of the presidential election, the website of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff carried a message, stating "it must not be forgotten that the Turkish Armed Forces ... are the sure and certain defenders of secularism.... (T)hey will make their position and stance perfectly clear as needs be. Let nobody have any doubt about this."8 The posting also described local public events with fundamentalist overtones that it called "an open challenge to the state, in the apparel of religion."

In the past, Turkish governments had resigned in response to such warnings. The AKP did not. Instead, the government spokesman reacted strongly to what he described as the "inappropriate" General Staff statement. He declared, "The General Staff is an establishment under the Prime Minister's Office. It would be inconceivable if the General Staff in a democracy upholding the rule of law made a statement critical of the government about any issue...." He also asserted that the statement was an attempt to influence the Constitutional Court.9

Some suggested that the military's intervention may not have ended with its April 27 message, noting that months passed after a similar demarche in 1979 led to a coup in September 1980.10 Others considered the message itself to be an unacceptable "e-mail coup."11

Constitutional Court Ruling

On May 1, the Constitutional Court annulled the first round of the presidential election on the grounds that a required two-thirds quorum was not present.12 President Sezer had appointed many of the Court's members and the Court is seen as a voice of the secular establishment. It probably did not need the military's prompting to reach its decision, although the military was held responsible for the result. The AKP and others viewed the ruling as a political one; Erdogan described it as "a bullet aimed at democracy."13 The government said, however, that it would respect the decision. Some have compared the Court's decision and the controversy over it to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the 2000 presidential race.

Constitutional Amendments

After failing to attain the newly prescribed quorum in parliament for a replay of the first round of the vote for president, Prime Minister Erdogan called for early national elections. He also proposed constitutional amendments to provide for the direct election of the president in two rounds, a five-year presidential term with the possibility of a reelection (instead of the current single seven-year term), a reduction in the term of parliament from five years to four, definition of the parliamentary quorum at 184 for both sessions and elections, and a lowering of the age of eligibility for Members of Parliament to 25.

Parliament endorsed the amendments on May 7. President Sezer vetoed them on May 25, declaring that a directly elected president would "create problems for the regime." He suggested that it would be better if the amendments were debated in public and then discussed in parliament. As expected, however, parliament passed the amendments again in the same form on June 1. The Constitution did not allow Sezer to veto them a second time. On June 18, he referred the amendments for publication to be presented to a national referendum to be held 120 days thereafter; at the same time, he petitioned the Constitutional Court to invalidate the amendment package. On July 5, the Court rejected the President's appeal, paving the way for a referendum on the amendments to be held on October 21, when they probably will be approved.

Parliamentary Elections

Parliamentary elections were held on July 22 instead of November 4, as otherwise scheduled.

The Contestants

After taking office in 2002, AKP did not focus that much on an Islamist agenda. Instead, it endeavored to reposition itself as a centrist party by emphasizing economic reforms that appealed to all classes, and the government built roads, hospitals, and housing. AKP provided generally good governance and experienced few corruption scandals. With regard to the latter, it benefitted from relatively obliging media, much of which is controlled by business moguls who have profited from the government's market reforms and privatization programs. Finally, Prime Minister Erdogan provided AKP with a charismatic leader known for his common touch and communication skills.

Some opposition parties attempted to coalesce before the election to ensure that they obtained at least 10% of the vote needed to enter parliament and to target the AKP. An agreement between the center-right True Path (DYP) and Motherland (ANAVATAN) parties to unite as the Democratic Party (DP), however, was very short-lived. DYP kept the DP name, which is the same as the first opposition party founded in Turkey in 1946. The Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Social Democratic Party (DSP) were more successful in agreeing to run as an electoral coalition. DSP had 30 slots on CHP's electoral list. This formulation permitted DSP to reclaim its identity in the new parliament when the coalition passed the threshold. CHP had been the sole opposition in parliament since 2002 and the DSP had not been represented.

Table 1. Main Contenders





Justice and Development Party (AKP)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan


Islamist origins,
Conservative democrat

Republican People's Party (CHP)/
Social Democratic Party (DSP)

Deniz Baykal/Zeki Sezer


Statist, Nationalist

Democratic Party (DP)

Mehmet Agar



Nationalist Action Party (MHP)

Devlet Bacheli


Extreme Nationalist,

Democratic Society Party (DTP)b

Ahmet Turk



Young Party (GP)

Cem Uzan


Extreme Nationalist,

a. As of recess on June 3, 2007, Motherland, which did not contest the election, held 20 seats, small parties, 3, independents, 15, and vacancies, 9, for a total of 550.

b. Candidates running as independents, not on party lists.

Standing alone, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) always was considered capable of passing the threshold as it had often been represented in parliament and in coalition governments before 2002 and was seen returning on a rising tide of ultra-nationalism in the country. Its popular appeal was enhanced by its demand for military operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq to combat terrorism at a time of increased incidents. (The PKK is a Turkish Kurdish terrorist group that has taken safe haven in northern Iraq.)

Other, smaller parties also competed but were viewed as less likely to pass the threshold. The Young Party (GP) attracts similar voters as MHP and has an energetic, charismatic leader whose family has been implicated in business scandals. The Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the Islamist/nationalist Grand Unity Party (BPP) opted not to run party lists, but fielded independent candidates in order not to deal with the 10% obstacle.

Electoral lists suggested that both of the main parties moved to the center to appeal to voters. Lists are composed at the discretion of party leaders and their closest advisers. Erdogan did not include 154 AKP Members of Parliament on his party's lists for the election, mainly excluding intraparty dissidents or unreformed adherents of the fundamentalist Milli Gorus (National View) philosophy propounded by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, leader of several earlier and banned Islamist parties, although other such believers remained on the lists. Erdogan also gave slots to defectors from CHP and the center-right, some minority figures, and well-known intellectuals. Meanwhile, Baykal eliminated about half of CHP's deputies and placed several prominent former ANAVATAN and DYP centrists high on his lists.14


The AKP's political machine is formidable. Its grassroots operation is well-oiled, it controls central government ministries which have invested in visible infrastructure projects, and the many local governments it heads provide critical social services. Non-AKP parties failed to build comparable political organizations and lacked governmental resources. Still, the political climate was viewed as more fluid than before the presidential election crisis and gave opposition parties greater hope.

The AKP campaigned mainly on its economic performance. Since the AKP took office in 2002, the economy has experienced an average annual growth rate of 7.5%, a drop in the rate of inflation from 60% to about 9%, an almost doubling of per capita income, a three-fold increase in exports, and a ten-fold increase in foreign investment (to more than $20 billion in 2006). This theme resonated with voters more than others even though employment has not kept pace with other indicators. The party also portrayed itself as having been victimized in the presidential election process because its candidate, Foreign Minister Gul, is religious. AKP did not openly blame the military, letting voters reach their own conclusions. In addition, AKP argued that the fear of a state ruled by seriat (shariah/Islamic law) is irrational and unsupported by its record in office.

Prime Minister Erdogan also emphasized the ineptitude of earlier coalition governments compared to AKP's capable single-party rule. He did not appear to adequately counter accusations of ineffectiveness against PKK terrorism, which probably was AKP's main weakness. His stump speeches stressed that national unity is the best way to fight terrorism—not exactly a way to rouse the masses. On June 12, he voiced opposition to an immediate incursion into northern Iraq, maintaining that Turkey should target terrorists at home first.

The electoral crisis coincided with a spike in the deaths of soldiers in PKK-related violence in southeast Turkey, making terrorism and not the religious-secular divide that had provoked the election the most discussed issue in the campaign. CHP, MHP, and GP tried to use it to advantage. CHP leader Baykal charged that "Prime Minister Erdogan is the most important obstacle to Turkey's fight against terrorism" because of his reluctance to launch an incursion into northern Iraq.15 Baykal also assailed AKP for deferring to U.S. and European entreaties to stay out of Iraq.16 His party claimed that the European Union (EU) and United States, demanded improvements in the human rights of ethnic and religious minorities in order to divide the country.17 MHP voiced similar views.

CHP had little else on which to campaign. CHP had failed to present an alternative vision or programs during its four and a half years in opposition in parliament. Under Baykal's leadership, the party opposed AKP initiatives, polarized the political climate, and fueled xenophobic nationalism. Although a self-described "leftist" or social democratic party, it proposed no programs to serve the lower classes. In 2002, CHP ran what seemed to be a campaign against religion, offending many voters and geographically limiting its electoral successes to Thrace and the Aegean. Baykal had said that CHP's 2007 campaign again would be a "battle to defend secularism," instead he mainly harped on AKP's alleged failure to counter terrorism.

DP had the potential to attract voters that the center-right lost to AKP in 2002. Yet, DP had problems filling out its electoral lists, which weakened its competitiveness. DP leader Mehmet Agar, himself implicated during an infamous scandal in the 1990s, also gave slots on the lists to other discredited politicians who may have harmed the party's image. Moreover, the campaign's focus on terrorism benefitted nationalist parties on the right and left more than DP.

Analysis of Parties and Leaders

The electoral contest was not a simple one between Islamists and secularists or the AKP and the military; it was simultaneously both of these and more. The parties and leaders have complicated and sometimes conflicting records. While Turkey has indeed been democratizing and improving its overall human rights record, some consider the democratic credentials of the major contenders deficient. AKP won only 34% of the vote in 2002, but governed as if it had won a majority and did not reach out to the opposition. It passed a series of unquestionably revolutionary reforms to enable Turkey to meet the European Union's political and economic criteria for membership18 and called for even more democratic advances so that religious women could freely wear their chosen attire in public institutions. It also increased educational and broadcast rights for Turkish Kurds. Yet, Prime Minister Erdogan never fulfilled his August 2005 promise to provide answers to the Kurdish problem with "more democracy" and, instead, adopted less controversial hardline rhetoric. An upsurge in PKK violence may account for some of his reticence to launch innovative policies, but resistence from the military and nationalists was probably even more responsible for the inertia.

In addition, AKP did not revise the notorious Penal Code Article 301, which criminalizes speech that "insults Turkishness," produced judicial prosecutions of literary luminaries such as Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, and perhaps provoked the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January 2007. Finally, AKP did not attempt to lower the 10% of the vote threshold to enter parliament, which effectively deprives many voters of their franchise and right to be represented in the government. A lower threshold would allow the Democratic Society Party (DTP), a Kurdish group, to enter parliament as a party and provide "more democracy." The military and nationalists oppose a lower threshold precisely because it would allow DTP with its focus on an ethnic identity to join the legislature. Again, AKP chose not to confront this opposition.

Some observers believe that Prime Minister Erdogan has the same autocratic tendencies that were characteristic of past Turkish party and government leaders. From this viewpoint, his personal litigiousness against journalists and others reveals a lack of understanding of freedom of expression. His failure to consult widely regarding the nomination of a president was troubling even if it was his prerogative. His rush to amend the Constitution, without parliamentary or public debate, was equally disturbing and gave rise to a perception that the Prime Minister sought to change the rules simply because he could not get his way under the old ones and not to improve Turkey's democracy. Furthermore, the package of amendments contains a potentially undemocratic and controversial provision. The amendment to lower the quorum to 184 out of 550 for all legislative matters and elections would allow a small minority of legislators to decide consequential issues for the entire country. By contrast, the U.S. Constitution defines a working congressional quorum as a majority.

While not seeking a seriat (shariah/Islamic law) state as its opponents claim, AKP's record on the role of religion in the state included actions that aroused the distrust of secularists and other observers concerning its goals. The party is suspected of infiltrating sympathetic followers into the educational, judicial, and even military ranks. It took actions favoring Sunni believers over others by failing to provide equal treatment for non-Sunni Muslim religious adherents, such as the large Alevi Muslim minority, and by failing to complete reforms to end mistreatment of non-Muslims.19 The Directorate for Religious Affairs appointed about 25,000 new imams, an unusually large number without much justification, while refusing to fund Alevi institutions. AKP pushed legislation to enable graduates of imam-hatip (religious or imam training) schools to enter universities on an equal footing with graduates of state schools who have had liberal educations. Prime Minister Erdogan called for adultery to be criminalized and backed down only after European criticism. He questioned the right of the European Court of Human Rights, whose jurisdiction Turkey accepts, instead of religious scholars (ulema) to judge the head scarf issue.

For its part, the CHP cannot truly be said to be a champion of democracy. It argues that democracy is impossible without secularism. Yet, its belief in democratic principles seems circumscribed, as the party and its followers failed to react to the military's interference in the presidential election, and even appeared desirous of military intervention from which they could benefit politically. Moreover, the CHP often seems lacking in tolerance. It views the granting of rights to Kurds and non-Muslim religious minorities as threats to the territorial integrity of the state and opposes revision of Article 301. The party also is unwilling to openly discuss the head scarf issue, when the majority of Turkish women wear head coverings. Women made up only 10% of CHP's electoral lists. CHP also did not take up the issue of lowering 10% of the vote threshold to enter parliament in order to expand participation in the political system, again probably due to its desire to keep a Kurdish-based party out of parliament. Moreover, some argue that CHP had overblown an unreal threat of a seriat (shariah) state for political gain and that its wanton fear-mongering exacerbated divisions in the country. Finally, many observers note that Deniz Baykal shares with Erdogan the tendency of Turkish leaders to lead his party in an autocratic style.

Election Results

Table 2. Election Results20


Percent of Vote


Justice and Development Party (AKP)



Republican People's Party (CHP) (including Social Democratic Party (DSP))


112 (13 DSP)

Nationalist Action Party (MHP)



Independents (including Democratic Society Party (DTP))


26 (23 DTP)

a. An elected MHP deputy died in a car accident on July 28. The seat is now vacant.

b. The 10% of the vote threshold to enter parliament applies to parties, not independent candidates.

The Democratic Party (DP), with 8.3% of the vote, and the Young Party (GP), with 3%, failed to pass the 10% threshold to enter parliament. Voter turnout was 84.16%.


AKP's victory is an historic achievement. It is the first party to win reelection by a larger margin (12%) than in its first victory since 1954, when the Democratic Party then bested its earlier showing by only 3%. The vote is a huge personal victory for Prime Minister Erdogan, without whom his party could not have achieved this result. The outcome also is an endorsement of the AKP's performance in government, especially its economic record. While strongest in central Anatolia, the AKP is the only party to register nationwide appeal. It even took votes from DTP in the latter's presumed eastern and southeastern strongholds, which may reflect the Kurds' appreciation for AKP-delivered public services, for reforms that have allowed them more linguistic freedom, as well as their belief that AKP was more likely to try to avoid military action that might harm their ethnic kin in norther Iraq. Some Kurds may believe that they no longer need an ethnically identified party to achieve their goals. While overwhelmingly favored by the poor, the AKP garnered votes from all social classes and educational groups. A reputable post-election survey found that 85.2% of AKP voters favored the ruling party because of "the economic situation and their expectations," while 32.5% cited the unfair treatment of Gul's presidential bid.21 Meanwhile, CHP is again representing mainly Thrace and the Aegean regions, the upper classes, and the university educated.

As a result of the election, AKP is the sole party representing the center of the political spectrum in parliament, and Erdogan was able to form another single party government.

The election emphasized the Turkish people's preference for democracy. Voters resoundingly rejected the CHP's extraparliamentary tactics of boycotts and appeals to the unelected judiciary as well as the military's intervention. Even voters who do not agree with the more religion-favoring aspects of AKP's agenda seemed to want the military to recognize that Turkey's democracy has matured beyond the need for its interference and could handle whatever may happen on the religion front.

Mehmet Agar immediately resigned as DP leader, while Deniz Baykal vowed to remain CHP leader despite a major rebuff by the voters and party dissidents' calls for his resignation. After the election, DSP split from CHP as expected and independents from DTP formed a parliamentary group.

Presidential Election

On August 14, Abdullah Gul announced his revived candidacy for president, emphasizing that protecting secularism is one of his main principles and that he knows "the sensitivities of all our institutions." MHP and DSP fielded their own candidate for the post. CHP again boycotted the election. Yet, MHP, DSP, DTP, and independent attendees enabled parliament to achieve the required 367 member quorum. Gul failed to win 367 votes in the first and second rounds, but won the presidency in the third round with 330 votes on August 28.

The referendum on constitutional amendments, including one providing for the direct election of the president by the people, still is scheduled for October 21 and approval is predicted. However, direct election of a president may not occur until another president is elected seven years from now unless Gul resigns before his seven-year term expires to allow a direct election.

Military Redux

On July 30, 2007, Chief of the General Staff General Yasar Buyukanit declared, "The views of the Turkish Armed Forces do not vary from day to day.... We are fully behind what we said on April 12." (See "Military Intervention," above.)

On the eve of Gul's inauguration, Buyukanit issued his Victory Day message, commemorating the final military victory over foreign invaders in 1922 that paved the way for the establishment of the Turkish Republic. The message was delivered two days before the actual holiday. The general noted "despicable plans conducted by some with evil intent ... with the goal of destroying the unity and solidarity of the Turkish nation, as well as the secular and democratic structure of the Republic..." and declared that "attacks and treachery of this sort will not be able to intimidate the Turkish Armed Forces." "The Turkish Armed Forces, in carrying out their duty to guard and protect the Republic of Turkey, which is a democratic, secular, and social state of law, have to date never compromised from their resolute stance, they will never do so in the future."22

The commanders absented themselves from Gul's inauguration. Subsequent interactions between the President and commanders have been scrutinized minutely and there are indications that relations are improving. The very low profile maintained by Mrs. Gul since the election may be assisting this process.

No one had expected the military to intervene immediately. The direct military takeovers of government in 1960 and 1980 occurred after years and months of monitoring. In 1971 and 1997, the military acted with more subtlety, working to oust governments and not take them over. The military views itself as the army of the people and almost half of the Turkish people voted for AKP. Moreover, it would not want to harm the country by destabilizing the economy, which would occur with any intervention in the polity.

Most observers believe, or hope, that the day of the coup is over. Nonetheless, most also agree that the military will be watching Gul to see if he is true to the words of his inaugural address, in which he said that he would advocate and strengthen the constitutional principles that the Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular, and social state of law. At the same time, he claimed that secularism "underpins freedom for different life styles as it is a rule of social harmony," indicating that his definition of the concept is more expansive than that of his predecessor.23 President Gul's approach will manifest itself in his appointments and in his review of legislation. The military also would probably wait to act until or if public support for the government declines.

The New Government

On August 29, Prime Minister Erdogan presented his 24-member cabinet to President Gul, who approved it. Only eight members had not been in the prior government, several were formerly in other parties. Erdogan chose 40-year-old Ali Babacan, who had previously been in charge of the economy and negotiations with the European Union to replace Gul at the foreign ministry, and elevated three close associates to deputy prime minister posts with responsibility for coordinating various functions and agencies. The only one woman in the cabinet remains State Minister Nimet Cubukcu, who is responsible for women, children, family, and elderly issues.

Table 3. Key Cabinet Officers

Prime Minister

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Foreign Minister

Ali Babacan

Defense Minister

Vecdi Gonul

Justice Minister

Mehmet Ali Sahin

Interior Minister

Besir Atalay

Minister of State (Treasury)

Mehmet Simsek

Finance Minister

Kemal Unakitan

Energy Minister

Hilmi Guler

Policy Challenges Ahead

Domestically, the new government's agenda includes promulgating a new constitution to replace the current one drafted in 1982 under military guidance. The AKP's stated aim is to promulgate a document that conforms to European standards. To reassure secularist adversaries, Prime Minister Erdogan has promised that the first four articles would be unchanged, meaning that they would include Article 2 which declares that the "Republic is a democratic, secular, and social state ... loyal to the nationalism of Ataturk."

Erdogan aims for Turks to have a $10,000 per capita income by 2013 and his programs include structural economic reforms to develop employment opportunities. He also hopes to pass long postponed social security reforms and new privatization initiatives to alleviate the current account deficit. In addition, a decision on future relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has to be made by the expiration of the current standby agreement in May 2008.

As part of its anti-terrorism policy, the government will initiate educational, health, and transportation projects in the pre-dominantly Kurdish southeast.

In foreign policy, the government needs to find ways to relate better to developments in Iraq, including fostering ties with the Baghdad government, dealing with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, and countering PKK terrorism. Erdogan has initially chosen a cautious diplomatic approach. At his invitation, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki, a Shiite, visited Ankara on August 7, while then Foreign Minister (now President) Abdullah invited Vice President Tariq al Hashimi, a Sunni, for consultations on August 23. Maliki and Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on "cooperative efforts against the PKK terror organization...." The Iraqi parliament has to approve any agreement and action, which requires the cooperation of the leaders of the KRG. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari claims that the Iraqi Kurds' leaders, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani, support the MOU. However, these gentlemen have been conspicuously absent from Ankara's diplomatic offensive so far. Should political approaches fail, Turkey may consider military options at a later time. Barzani has declared that he will combat any Turkish incursion, and the Qandil Mountains, where the PKK has its safe havens, is harsh, uninviting terrain for military operations. Nonetheless, public distress eventually may leave the government and military no other recourse.

Erdogan also intends to continue Turkey's course toward European Union membership despite difficulties. In the short term, this entails a revival of a domestic reform agenda. In the longer term, the Prime Minister must convince European opponents of Turkey's accession that the EU would benefit from Turkey's inclusion.

Finally, due to the severe polarization of society evident during the presidential election crisis and the parliamentary election campaign, Erdogan will be called upon to appear magnanimous in order to heal his country. His greatest challenge may be pursuing a "policy of unity."24

The European Union Factor

The prospect of EU membership had limited influence during the electoral crisis. Over the past several years, the AKP has led Turkey's march toward EU membership, overseeing passage of laws and constitutional amendments to conform to EU political and economic standards. The AKP views the path to EU membership as a way to advance Turkey's democracy and claims that it would proceed with the reforms required for membership for the good of the country even if membership were not achieved. More cynical commentators suggest that the AKP, as the current incarnation of Islamist parties closed as a result of military interference in the political process, is pursuing EU membership mainly in order to restrict the role of armed forces.

In December 2004, the EU agreed to begin accession talks with Turkey, with conditions that had not been applied to other candidate countries. Despite Turkey's failure to meet a commitment to open its ports to the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government of the Republic of Cyprus, the talks have proceeded with only the relatively mild EU rebuke of suspending negotiations on eight chapters of the acquis (EU rules and regulations) because of the Cyprus issue, but permitting other negotiations to proceed. There are 34 chapters in all. Neither the EU nor Turkey apparently or officially wants to derail the process. Turkey is not expected to be eligible for membership before 2014, at the earliest.

Turks are far less enthusiastic about the EU than they were several years ago, with support falling drastically.25 They are scornful of EU and European officials' repeated threats that the path to accession could be blocked if Turkey does not recognize an Armenian genocide that occurred in the early 20th century, make concessions to the (Greek) Cypriots, or act on a variety of other matters. Turkish military commanders are particularly dismissive of the EU. They charge that Europeans aid the PKK even though the PKK is on the EU's list of terrorist groups, and that EU demands to improve the rights of Kurds and religious minorities are a conspiracy to divide Turkey. Moreover, the EU insistence that Turkey improve civilian control over the military threatens the military's prerogatives.

Turks know that their chances of obtaining EU membership have diminished markedly. A unanimous vote of EU member states is required for admittance to the Union. Europeans are increasingly opposed to Turkey's accession.26 Some EU leaders firmly oppose Turkey's membership for cultural (religious) reasons.27 German Chancellor Angela Merkel prefers granting Turkey a "privileged partnership," but has not pushed the issue out of deference to her domestic coalition partner which supports Turkey's membership. She also has not defined privileged partnership so as to distinguish it from Turkey's existing customs union with the EU and to make it an attractive option. New French President Nicholas Sarkozy made his opposition to Turkey's membership a campaign issue and is bound by a French parliament decision to allow a national referendum to decide the membership question. Most observers expect the French people to vote against Turkey's accession. Sarkozy has proposed a Mediterranean Union of states of the Mediterranean littoral, including Turkey, but Turkish officials reject the idea if it is a substitute for EU membership. Sarkozy has agreed to allow the EU's negotiations with Turkey to proceed if the Union appoints a committee to define its future borders by the end of the year, but asserted that he has not changed his mind about Turkey's eventual membership. Germany and France are arguably the most powerful and influential members of the EU, but Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands also oppose Turkey's membership.

European opposition has fed reciprocal feelings in Turkey. Many in Turkey ignored EU criticism even as EU officials commented repeatedly on the evolving election crisis. After the Turkish military's April 27 statement, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said, "The military should be aware that it should not interfere in the democratic process in a country which desires to become an EU member."28 On April 30, the European Commission urged the Turkish military to allow the Constitutional Court to act "in full independence from any undue influence." Then, on May 2, the Commission elaborated, "The European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law as well as the supremacy of democratic civilian power over the military. If a country wants to become a member of the Union it needs to respect these principles."29 The Commission welcomed the early election as a way to ensure Turkey's political stability and democratic development. On June 4, in meetings with Foreign Minister Gul and State Minister Ali Babayan, Turkey's EU negotiator, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, representing the EU Presidency, voiced concern about the military's April 27 message, while emphasizing the need to maintain "democratic secularism" in Turkey. He thereby sent a message that balanced impressions that earlier EU statements may have been perceived as too supportive of AKP.

In his first speech after the AKP election victory, Prime Minister Erdogan vowed to relaunch EU reforms that have slowed since 2005. The membership process, if not membership, remains on the agenda.

U.S. Policy

Importance of Turkey

During the AKP era, the Bush Administration has continued to consider Turkey to be an important ally. This is despite the failure of the AKP-led parliament to authorize the deployment of U.S. forces on Turkish territory to open a northern front against Saddam Hussein in March 2003. The Administration values relations with Turkey because it is a critical transit hub for the resupply of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and participates in (and twice led) the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), and in the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Turkey also is seen as a critical transportation and energy corridor linking the Caucasus and Central Asia to Europe by routes independent of Russia at a time of increasingly concern about Russia's energy dominance over Europe.

AKP's criticism of U.S. policies in Iraq, its warm relations with Syria and Iran, and its outreach to the Palestinian Hamas group have not noticeably altered the official U.S. assessment of Turkey's significance. Although some AKP policies have been at odds with those of the Bush Administration, CHP and MHP have been seen as fueling the anti-Americanism that has already increased due to the war in Iraq and U.S. inaction against the PKK.30 Thus, U.S. policymakers may have reached a conclusion that they had no side to back in the Turkish election contest except the cause of stability.

Election Crisis

As the presidential election crisis unfolded, U.S. government officials made increasingly critical statements. Early statements were limited to platitudes that redundantly emphasized the need for Turkey to follow its constitution, while later ones contained warnings to the military to stay out of the political process. After the Turkish military intervention via the internet, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormick said on April 30, "We have real confidence in Turkey's democracy and we have confidence in their constitutional processes and that all the parties involved in the election of the new president will abide by those constitutional processes."31 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried averred, "We hope and expect that the Turks will work out these political issues in their own way, in a way that's consistent with their secular democracy and constitutional provisions." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared, "The United States fully supports Turkish democracy and its constitutional processes, and that means that the election, electoral system, and the results of the electoral system, and the results of the constitutional process have to be upheld."32 Only in response to a question, however, did she agree with the EU forthright call for the military to stay out. Later, State Department spokesman Tom Casey directly warned the Turkish armed forces, "we don't want the military or anyone else interfering in the constitutional process or doing anything in an extra-constitutional way."33

Given the low standing of the United States in Turkish public opinion, U.S. support for any side may be viewed as counterproductive and none of the contending parties sought it. The State Department congratulated Prime Minister Erdogan and the AKP on their victory in the elections, which it said demonstrated the heath of Turkish democracy, and President Bush promptly called President Gul to congratulate him on his victory and to affirm the U.S. commitment to a strong relationship.

Aside from the domestic political crisis in Turkey, U.S. policy makers were concerned about possible spillover of the campaign into Turkey's policy toward Iraq. Turkish civilian and military officials have repeatedly expressed disappointment in the failure of U.S. and Iraqi forces to act against the PKK. In the absence of action, the Turks claim a right to act with or without U.S. approval. Some parties ratcheted up their rhetoric partly for political gain, but also because the PKK continued to attack and to inflict casualties almost daily.34 In response, the Turkish military has launched short-lived, "hot pursuit" incursions and artillery shells into northern Iraq and larger scale operations in the largely Kurdish southeast Turkey. During the election period, there were (unverified) reports that Turkish troops were massed along the border. U.S. officials responded to Turkish saber-rattling with calls for restraint and voiced concern about the destabilizing effects of Turkish military action on the situation in Iraq. On June 3, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a stern warning against such action.

The Turkish parliament must approve a major military offensive against a foreign country, and on July 9, Prime Minister Erdogan admitted, "The possibility of getting parliamentary approval for an operation is not on our agenda right now."35 An incursion is not his preferred course of action. However, if yet another major terrorist attack occurs, like the bombing at a crowded Ankara shopping center on May 22 which killed 7 and injured about 100, Turkish authorities may not continue to be restrained even if action has unpleasant consequences for bilateral relations with the United States.

During the presidential election process, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack asserted, "We have full confidence that the Turkish system will come to terms with whatever differences are within that system to produce a result that is democratic, that is consistent with Turkey's history, and consistent with Turkey's laws and constitution." He added, "What you are seeing is a debate ... about Turkey's future course.... That is the functioning of a democracy...."36

Future Issues


President Bush congratulated Prime Minister Erdogan on his victory and invited him to the White House. The meeting has not yet been scheduled. U.S. officials probably view favorably Erdogan's preference for diplomacy over military options.37


The Bush Administration is likely to remain concerned about Turkish-Iranian relations. The two neighbors concluded a counterterrorism accord in 2004 and have been cooperating in targeting their probably related opponents, the PKK and PJAK (Party for a Free Life in Iranian Kurdistan).

Trade between Turkey and Iran is burgeoning, totaling $6 billion in 2006 and expected to reach $10 billion in 2007. U.S. policymakers may be concerned about a July 2007 Iran-Turkish memorandum of understanding on natural gas, which is the prelude to a deal that would allow Turkey to transport natural gas from Iran and Turkmenistan via a planned, but as yet unfunded, pipeline from Turkey to Austria called the Nabucco project. The Europeans have been interested in Nabucco in order to lessen their energy dependence on Russia. For the Bush Administration, the main problem with the new Turkish-Iranian accord is possible Turkish Petroleum Corporation development of three gas fields in Iran because the Administration seeks to curtail international investment in Iran's oil sector in order to pressure Iran to resolve the issue of its nuclear program. If Turkey's investment in the project exceeds $20 million, then it would violate the U.S. Iran Sanctions Act (P.L. 104-172).38 No companies have yet been sanctioned under the provisions of the act for their investments in Iran. These include Turkish companies involved in constructing the Turkey-Iran gas pipeline that will link to the one from Turkey to Austria. This prior experience may have led the Turks to assume that the new project would not be sanctioned either.

At the same time, Turkey is concerned about the effect of a possibly nuclear-armed Iran on the regional balance of power. It supports only Iran's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses and has urged its neighbor to reach an accommodation with the international community.

Armenian Genocide Resolution

Finally, possible House passage of H.Res. 106, related to the Armenian genocide issue, hangs like a sword of Damocles over bilateral relations. AKP's reaction may depend on public opinion and on whether it believes it needs to prevent ties with Washington from becoming even more frayed.

Table 4. Basic Facts about Turkey


71 million (July 2007 est.)

Ethnic Groups

Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20% (est.)

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Growth Rate

5.3% (2006 est.)

GDP Per Capita

$9,000 (2006 est.)

Unemployment Rate

10.2% (2006 est.)


9.8% (2006 est.)

Public Debt

64.7% GDP (2006 est.)

External Debt

$193.6 billion (June 2006 est.)


apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures

Export Partners

Germany, UK, Italy, U.S., France, Spain


machinery, chemicals, semi-finished goods, fuels

Import Partners

Germany, Russia, Italy, China, France, U.S.

Military Expenditures

5.3% GDP (2005 est.)

Active Military

Air Force





Sources: For all except military strength, CIA World Factbook, July 19, 2007. For military strength figures, The Military Balance, Vol. 107, No. 1, February 2007.



Sezer refused to invite head scarf-wearing wives of AKP officials and Members of Parliament to receptions at Çankaya.


At Ataturk's initiative, the assembly of the new Turkish Republic passed sweeping laicist reforms in the name of modernization, including abolition of the Ottoman caliphate, whose ruler held both temporal and religious power, closing of religious schools while establishing a system of public education, outlawing of religious brotherhoods, replacing the Muslim calendar with one beginning with the Christian era, supplanting Islamic law with a new civil code based on Swiss law and a new penal code adapted from Italian law, among other measures. Laicite is said not just to separate mosque and state, but to subordinate the mosque to the state.


Point made by former True Path Party (DYP) politician Mehmet Ali Bayar, at "Filling Ataturk's Chair: Turkey Picks a President," panel discussion at The Brookings Institution, April 12, 2007.


However, some AKP appointees have served in "acting" capacities for extended periods of time. According to the Turkish Constitution, a president can return laws to parliament for reconsideration. If parliament passes the same law unchanged a second time, he cannot veto it again but can refer the law to the Constitutional Court for a determination of its validity. In some cases, AKP has passed a law unchanged. In other cases, it has retreated, preferring to postpone its fight for another day.


Point made by Milliyet Washington correspondent Yasemin Congar on The Diane Rehm Show, National Public Radio, May 1, 2007.


Those who maintain that military intervention to protect Turkey's secular identity is legal cite Article 3 of the Internal Service Law of the military, which stipulates that the Turkish Armed Forces are responsible for "guarding and defending the Turkish Republic as defined by the Constitution." See Soner Cagaptay, "How Will the Turkish Military React?", article written for the Spanish Royal Institute, accessible at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org.


Text of Chief of Staff Buyukanit's Press Conference, TRT 2 Television, April 12, 2007, Open Source Document GMP20070412734001.


Text of General Staff Statement "On Reactionary Activities, Army's Duty," Open Source Center Document GMP20070428016005, April 28, 2007.


"This Statement Has Been Perceived as a Stance Taken Against the Government," Anatolia, April 28, 2007, Open Source Center Document GMP20070428742001.


Soner Cagaptay, "Turkey's Ongoing Political Crisis: Where Now?" Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Watch #1230, May 9, 2007.


Omer Taspinar, "The E-Coup and Washington," Zaman, June 4, 2007, Open Source Center Document GMP20070604006005.


In its full ruling released on June 27, the Court stated that the Constitution intended to encourage compromise among parties in the election of a president. If 367 deputies were not required to be present, then parties with more than 276 deputies would have no incentive to compromise and would simply wait for the third round of voting. "Top Court States Vote was Annulled to Enable Compromise," Turkish Daily News, June 28, 2007.


Turkish Daily News, May 2, 2007.


For analyses of the lists, see Goksel Bozkurt, "Parties Fight to Conquer the 'Center,'" Turkish Daily News, June 6, 2007, and Rusen Cakir, "Erdogan has Played with AKP's Genes," Vatan, Open Source Center Document GMP20070607742006.


"Opposition Outrage at PM's Remarks," Turkish Daily News, June 14, 2007.


"CHP Introduces Deputy Candidates to Public," Anatolia, June 16, 2007, Open Source Center Document GMP20070616737002.


Baykal claims to retain EU membership as an objective, but wants the EU to revise its approach to Turkey.


The Copenhagen criteria for EU membership include stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities; the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union; and the ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic, and monetary union.


Alevis practice a heterodox faith based on Shi'ite Islam, Sufism, and other elements. The AKP refused to recognize them as adherents of a faith different from Sunni Islam.


Final results as published in the Official Gazette, Anatolia, July 31, 2007, BBC Monitoring European.


Konda Research survey conducted in August, cited in "Economy Tops Voters' Concerns," Turkish Daily News, August 28, 2007.


Office of the Chief of the General Staff, "Victory Day Message from General Staff Chief General Yasar Buyukanit," Open Source Center Document GMP20070827744004.


"The Acceptance Speech by 11th President of Turkey His Excellency Abdullah Gul," Turkish Daily News, August 29, 2007.


Speech at AKP Headquarters, NTV, July 22, 2007, Open Source Center Document GMP20070722017004.


A Pew Global Attitudes Project public opinion survey, released on June 27, 2007, indicates that of 58%Turks have unfavorable views of the European Union, while only 27% hold favorable views. See, http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=256. A German Marshall Fund survey conducted June found that only 26% of Turks believe that their country will eventually join the EU. See http://www.transatlantictrends.org/trends/.


Katinka Barysch, "What Europeans Think About Turkey and Why," Briefing Note, Center for European Reform, August 2007.


Some suggest that the AKP did not mobilize demonstrations to counter those of the opposition because the image of masses of its hijab-wearing, bearded supporters would reinforce the Europeans' views.


Rehn on General Staff's Statement, Anatolia, April 28, 2007, Open Source Center Document GMP20070428734008.


"European Commission Warns Turkish Army Against Defending Secularism," Agence France Presse, May 2, 2007.


The Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, released on June 27, 2007, indicates that 83% of Turks have unfavorable views of the United States, while only 9% hold favorable views. See http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=256. The German Marshall Fund found that 74% of Turks view U.S. leadership in the world as undesirable, and that their "warmth" toward the United States has declined from already low levels in the past year. See http://www.transatlantictrends.org/trends/.


U.S. State Department, Daily Press Briefing, April 30, 2007, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2007/apr/83993.htm.


Christopher Torchia, "U.S., EU Warn Turkish Military to Avoid Politics," Chicago Tribune, May 3, 2007.


Quote in "White House Says Turkish Democracy Continues to Function," Turkish Daily News, May 9, 2007.


According to the U.S. State Department, Country Report on Terrorism, the PKK was responsible for 600 deaths in Turkey in 2006. For Report, see http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/.


"Cross-border Operation Delayed Until After Elections," Zaman, July 11, 2007.


Umit Enginsoy, "US Warns Against Unconstitutional Moves in Turkey," Turkish Daily News, August 17, 2007.


See also CRS Report RL33793, Iraq: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].


See CRS Report RS20871, The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), by [author name scrubbed].