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Erdogan could have just committed the gravest error of his political career.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison. The younger and energetic mayor clearly poses a real threat to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has always been a zero-sum politician willing to resort to almost any means to neutralize his rivals. If a higher court upholds the ban, the public is likely to react with anger. Erdogan is also playing a skillful hand in geopolitics in ways that he hopes will secure his hold.