Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Eskisehir, Turkey, October 23, 2021.
ISTANBUL, Oct 24 (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan's political opponents said his call to expel the ambassadors of 10 Western allies was an attempt to distract attention from Turkey's economic difficulties, while diplomats hoped the expulsions might yet be averted.
On Saturday Erdogan said he ordered the envoys be declared 'persona non grata' for seeking philanthropist Osman Kavala's release from prison.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition CHP, said Erdogan was "rapidly dragging the country to a precipice".
Sinan Ulgen, chairman of Istanbul-based think tank Edam and a former Turkish diplomat, said Erdogan's timing was incongruous as Turkey was seeking to recalibrate its foreign policy away from episodes of tension in recent years.
In 2018 Erdogan said Turkey would boycott U.S.
"Erdogan has to project power for domestic political reasons," he said, adding that typically countries whose envoys have been kicked out retaliate with tit-for-tat expulsions.
Soner Cagaptay from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the countries involved made up half of Turkey's top 10 trading partners, underlining the potential setback to Erdogan's efforts to boost the economy ahead of elections