Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been granting passports to some 200,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, in what has been described by analysts as a move to gain support in an upcoming presidential bid, Press TV reports.
According to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has jumped from around 50,000 in 2012 to 500,000 in 2013.
“There is a new trend… Erdogan loses his popularity and feels the heat by the public anger because of the Syrian case and because of… Gezi Park protests and scandals, now [Turkish President] Abdullah Gul and [Turkish Deputy Prime Minister] Bulent Arinc get the points and become a little more popular even among the Justice and Development Party or AK Party,” said a strategist, in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.
Erdogan reportedly plans to run for president, as he cannot run again as prime minister in 2015, when his term as prime minister expires.
Erdogan’s move, however, hinges on whether he is able to push through a new legislation, which includes provisions for an executive presidency.
Erdogan had announced that there would be local elections in March 2014 and a presidential election in August, when a referendum for the new constitution could also be held.
On May 31, Turkish police broke up a sit-in held at Istanbul’s Taksim Square to protest against a proposal to demolish Gezi Park. The violence turned into nationwide demonstrations against the ruling Justice and Development Party and Erdogan, with police using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators.
Erdogan’s stance on the crisis in Syria is described as “a gamble that he has lost.”
Erdogan adopted a hostile rhetoric toward Syria since early 2011, when Syria was hit by unrest.
Turkey has been among the major supporters of the militants operating inside Syria.
On October 7, the UN said that over four million other Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 due to the escalating conflict in the country.
Two million Syrians are expected to take refuge outside the country while another 2.25 million are predicted to be internally displaced in 2014.