Fresh Turkey Polls Amid ISIS Threat to Capture Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Prospects for a period of instability in Turkey increased on Tuesday after attempts by the dominant party to form a new coalition government officially ended in failure.

The development helped create the basis for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call for a new election, which would mean the installation of a temporary government just as Turkey is facing new threats from Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and a re-energized Kurdish insurgency at home. An Islamic State video released on Monday called for Turkish Muslims to revolt against the president.

Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, which has shaped Turkish politics for more than a decade, was stunned in a June 7 election, losing a parliamentary majority partly because of gains by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party.

Lengthy negotiations by Mr. Erdogan’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, ended without an agreement for a coalition, first with the largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, then with a smaller, far-right nationalist party.

Erdogan could now theoretically ask the Republican People’s Party to take over the efforts to form a coalition government, but that outcome is highly unlikely before an Aug. 23 deadline set by the Constitution.

Since his party’s June defeat, Mr. Erdogan’s critics have accused him of taking actions — including a new crackdown on Kurdish militants — to sabotage the formation of a coalition and to justify a call for new elections so that he could try to regain a parliamentary majority.

If no government is formed by Aug. 23, Mr. Davutoglu must dissolve his cabinet, and an “election government” composed of all parties in Parliament would carry the country toward the vote.

Such a change could complicate, among other things, a recent decision to cooperate more closely with the American-led coalition fighting the ISIS.

The increased political and military tensions have raised uncertainty in the country. The Turkish lira, a barometer of stability, has weakened sharply.

Worries created by the failure of negotiations for a political coalition were compounded by the ISIS video threat aimed at Erdogan and his cohorts.

In its first Turkish-language video, distributed via social media,  ISIS denounced Erdogan’s collaboration with the United States and other Western powers to combat the militant group.

An ISIS fighter made a direct plea to Muslims in Turkey, urging them to rise up against their “infidel” president and to capture Istanbul, the country’s largest city.

 “O people of Turkey, you must stand and fight those crusaders, atheists and tyrants who have deceived you and made you slaves to the crusaders,” an unidentified, gray-bearded man flanked by two armed militants says in the video. “You must fight them before it is too late.”

Until recently, Turkey, a NATO member and longtime American ally, had been criticized for not taking a more active role against the ISIS. 

Although the speaker in the video did not make any specific threats against Turkey, the message to Turks was to reject democracy and their government and instead support the ISIS caliphate “wherever you are and however you can.”

The message and its tone match the themes of the group’s Turkish-language magazine, which published its first issue, titled “The Conquest of Istanbul,” in June and called on Turks to take back Istanbul from the “apostates,” an apparent reference to the country’s political leaders.

The speaker in the video echoed that message, referring to it as a mandate from the group’s leader. “Altogether and under the orders of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” he said, “let’s conquer Istanbul, which the traitor Erdogan works day and night to hand over to crusaders.”

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