Here’s a look at the life of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, current president and former prime minister of Turkey.
Birth date: February 26, 1954
Birth place: Istanbul, Turkey
Birth name: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Father: Ahmet Erdogan, coastguard and sea captain
Mother: Tenzile Erdogan
Marriage: Emine (Gulbaran) Erdogan (July 4, 1978-present)
Children: Two daughters and two sons
Education: Marmara University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, 1981
Active in Islamist circles in the 1970s and 1980s.
Before his political career, Erdogan was a semi-professional football (soccer) player.
Erdogan is considered a polarizing figure: supporters say he has improved the Turkish economy and introduced political reform. Critics have accused Erdogan of autocratic tendencies, corruption and extravagance.
Erdogan has also been heavily criticized for failing to protect women’s and human rights, curbing freedom of speech and attempting to curb Turkey’s secular identity.
Under Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey has lifted restrictions on public expression of religion, including ending the ban on women wearing Islamic-style headscarves.
Has called social media “the worst menace to society.”
1984 - Elected as a district head of the Welfare Party.
1985 - Elected as the Istanbul Provincial Head of the Welfare Party and becomes a member of the central executive board of the party.
1994-1998 - Mayor of Istanbul.
1998 - The Welfare Party is banned. Erdogan serves four months in prison for inciting religious hatred after reciting a controversial poem.
August 2001 - Co-founds the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
2002-2003 - Erdogan’s AKP wins the majority of seats in parliamentary elections, and he is appointed prime minister.
2003-2014 - Serves as prime minister.
June 2011 - AKP wins by a wide margin in the parliamentary elections, securing a third term for Erdogan.
June 2013 - Anti-government demonstrations target Erdogan’s policies, including his plan to turn a park into a mall, and call for political reforms. Thousands are reported injured in the clashes.
December 2013 - Corruption probe begins which investigates more than 50 suspects, including members of Erdogan’s inner circle. The following month, the government dismisses 350 police officers amid the investigation. Ten months later, the prosecutor drops the inquiry.
March 2014 - After Erdogan threatens to “eradicate” Twitter at a campaign rally, Turkey bans the social media site, and a two-week countrywide blackout ensues.
August 10, 2014 - Erdogan is elected president during the first-ever direct elections.
November 2014 - At a summit hosted by a women’s group in Istanbul, Erdogan says that women and men are not equal “because their nature is different.” It’s not the first time the Turkish leader has made controversial comments about women: previously, he told Turkish university students that they shouldn’t be “picky” when choosing a husband and has called on all Turkish women to have three children.
June 7, 2015 - In Turkey’s parliamentary elections, AKP wins 41% of the vote.
July 15-16, 2016 - During an attempted coup by a faction of the military, at least 161 people are killed and 1,140 wounded. Erdogan addresses the nation via FaceTime and urges people to take to the streets to stand up to the military faction behind the uprising. He blames the coup attempt on cleric and rival Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
April 16, 2017 - A vote is held on a constitutional amendment expanding Erdogan’s presidential powers. Turkish state media report that about 51% of people voted yes on the referendum, which abolishes the country’s parliamentary system and would potentially allow for Erdogan to remain in office until 2029. International election monitors question whether the election was free and fair, citing last-minute rule changes, the muzzling of opposition voices and the dominance of the “yes” campaign in the media. Opposition leaders in the Republican People’s Party say that they plan to challenge the election results in court.
May 16, 2017 - Erdogan meets US President Donald Trump at the White House. During a joint news conference, Erdogan praises Trump’s electoral victory and vows to help the United States fight terrorism. After the two men speak, demonstrators protest outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador. Nine people are injured when Turkish security guards rush into a line of protestors and kick people on the ground. Law enforcement sources tell CNN that some of the men involved in the fight were Erdogan’s bodyguards.
October 12, 2017 - Erdogan accuses the United States of sacrificing its relationship with Turkey in a speech made days after the arrest of a US consular staff member and the announcement that he refuses to recognize the authority of US Ambassador John Bass. Erdogan blames Bass and other officials left over from the Obama administration for sabotaging relations between the two countries.
December 2017 - In response to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Erdogan declares the move to be null and void and announces Turkey’s intention to open a Turkish embassy in Jerusalem.
June 24, 2018 - Is reelected president.
November 2, 2018 - The order to kill Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi came “from the highest levels of Saudi government,” Erdogan writes in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. The friendship between Turkey and Saudi Arabia “doesn’t mean we will turn a blind eye to the premeditated murder that unfolded in front of our very eyes,” he writes.
January 8, 2019 - After backing the decision that the United States will begin pulling troops from Syria, Erdogan claims US National Security Adviser John Bolton made “a serious mistake” telling reporters that the United States would only pull out of Syria if Turkey pledged not to attack its Kurdish allies there. “Bolton’s remarks in Israel are not acceptable. It is not possible for me to swallow this,” Erdogan says during a speech in parliament. “Bolton made a serious mistake. If he thinks that way, he is in a big mistake. We will not compromise.”
January 14, 2019 - Trump and Erdogan discuss “ongoing cooperation in Syria as US forces begin to withdraw” during a phone call just one day after Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region.
October 9, 2019 - Turkey launches a military offensive into northeastern Syria, just days after Trump’s administration announced that US troops would leave the border area. Erdogan’s “Operation Peace Spring” is an effort to drive away Kurdish forces from the border, and use the area to resettle around two million Syrian refugees.
October 22, 2019 - Erdogan meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi and the men announce a wide-ranging agreement on Syria, announcing that Russian and Turkish troops will patrol the Turkish-Syrian border. Kurdish forces have about six days to retreat about 20 miles away from the border.
January 2, 2020 - The Turkish parliament gives Erdogan authorization for one year to deploy military to address Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, Libya.