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Erdogan struggles to contain political fallout from Turkey’s wildfires

The wildfires scorching Turkey since last week threaten not only an environmental disaster but also a big political fallout for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Man injured by fire near Manavgat

The wildfires raging across Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts have given rise to a massive public outcry that might prove a critical juncture in Turkish politics as criticism over Ankara’s failure to efficiently tackle the crisis has been moving toward an existentially threatening level for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The disaster, which has seen dozens of fires engulf pine forests, agricultural land and residential areas since last week, caught the government badly unprepared, with officials forced to admit that Ankara lacks a single firefighting plane of its own. Despite its claim of having a strong state apparatus, Erdogan’s three-year executive presidency appears stuck in a management crisis. And instead of focusing on improving its response to desperate calls for help from affected areas, the government has been trying to politicize the disaster to provide a smokescreen against its own inadequacy.

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