April, 2016 Turkey

By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

One of the economic priorities of Turkey is to sign free trade agreements with Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, including Qatar, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said.
“We have to enrich relations between Turkey and the GCC, and we look to Qatar as the cornerstone that will help us advance our relationship with these countries,” the Prime Minister explained in Doha on Thursday.

by Burak Bekdil, Hürriyet Daily News
Tragically, and in his own words, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thinks (or pretends to think) that the primary reason behind terror in Turkey is to prevent Turkey from getting into the world's top 10 economies. "We very clearly see that it does not suit some people's interests for Turkey to become one of the top 10 economies in the world ... And they try to steer Turkey away from its goal through the scourge of terror."

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Turkey is a wonderland, according to the official narrative. It is not so much of a wonderland, according to facts and figures.

Turkey’s per capita income is less than half of Greece’s – the country which, over the past few years, has gone through one of the worst financial crises in modern history.

Culture, Politics, Turkey

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Tragically, and in his own words, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thinks (or pretends to think) that “the primary reason behind terror in Turkey is to prevent Turkey from getting into the world’s top 10 economies.”

by Burak Bekdil, Hürriyet Daily News
As the world's Muslim leaders admitted at last week's Islamic summit, the past 1,400 tumultuous years of sectarian fighting did not bring peace and happiness to Muslim lands. But, judging from the happy smiles and big speeches at the summit, the next 1,400 tumultuous years may be better.

By Garrett Krivicich
Ankara is painting its enemies with too broad a brush.
With fierce clashes between Kurds and Turkish police causing mayhem throughout Turkey’s southeast, and Islamic State–related activity noticeably on the rise, there is no doubt that Turkey has a militancy problem. However, there is one group, commonly overlooked by the Turkish government, that likely poses the biggest threat.

Kick Turkey Out Of NATO

by Michael Rubin

When U.S. officials first approached Turkey about joining NATO, the Turkish government was enthusiastic. Thousands of Turks were fighting alongside American forces in Korea. It was “imperative that democracies work in complete harmony, without competition among themselves or differences in policy objectives,” the U.S. ambassador to Turkey reported in a top-secret memo that Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Fuat Koprulu told him.

by Burak Bekdil

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has set a marvelous precedent in showing the entire world how a country should best care about the safety of its citizens traveling to, well, "different" foreign lands. In a very smart move, the German Foreign Ministry added a new piece of travel advice to the "tips page" on how German tourists should behave while on a visit to Turkey: "It is strongly advised not to make public political statements against the Turkish state and not to express sympathy for terrorist organizations."

Politics, Turkey

Richard Norton-Taylor, theguardian
More than 33,000 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2015, an increase of more than 50% in five years, according to a wide-ranging survey passed to the Guardian.

This is the sort of thing that happens in Mel Brooks movies, but not–at least until now–in geopolitics: Turkey’s claim upon the support of Western Europe comes from its own propensity to collapse. If it does so, the Europeans fear, the refugee stream that inundated Europe during 2015 will acquire another zero. That is why West Germany is willing to humiliate itself in order to prop up the regime of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute
Comedian Jan Böhmermann is being prosecuted in Germany for reading a disparaging poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The always angry Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, should have a moment of peace and wonder why is he probably the world's most insulted president.

Politics, Turkey

Author Cengiz Çandar

One of the most dramatic judicial processes that had significant bearing on politics and the fate of Turkey is finally over. It took nine years and 275 people imprisoned, among them a former chief of staff, top brass of the once powerful military of Turkey and renowned public servants. They have all been acquitted.

Military, Politics, Turkey

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews
The overturning by Turkey’s top court of appeal of the so-called “Ergenekon coup plot trial,” which was initiated in 2007 and lasted until 2011, is being hailed as one of the most significant legal developments in recent Turkish history.

Military, Politics, Turkey

Article illustrative image

Adrien Lelievre 

ANKARA — President Barack Obama's decision not to attend the April 2 inauguration of a new mosque near Washington D.C. might have spoild the party a bit. The event was billed, after all, as the highlight of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent trip to the United States.

Philip Oltermann in Berlin and Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic editor
US president Barack Obama said Angela Merkel was on the right side of history with her management of the refugee crisis and praised the German chancellor as a steady and trustworthy ally with a really good sense of humour, as he embarked on the final phase of the last official European tour of his presidency.

Patrick Kingsley, theguardian
German chancellor Angel Merkel flew into southern Turkey late on Saturday to inaugurate the EU’s new aid programme for Syrians in the country, amid concerns that her visit both validates Turkey’s creeping authoritarianism and overstates the EU’s humanitarian contribution to the Syrian crisis.

Europe, Politics, Turkey

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has set a marvelous precedent in showing the entire world how a country should best care about the safety of its citizens traveling to… well, “different” foreign lands. In a very smart move, the German Foreign Ministry added a new piece of travel advice to the “tips page” on how German tourists should behave while on a visit to Turkey: “It is strongly advised not to make public political statements against the Turkish state and not to express sympathy for terrorist organizations.”


Ankara walking a tightrope amid ongoing crises.
The Turkish government carefully walking a tightrope in building relations with both Iran and its regional archrival Saudi Arabia, in addition to Israel.

Author Murat Bilgincan
As 2015 came to a close, the Grand Ballroom of the Conrad Hotel in Manhattan presented a diverse tableau: Around the meticulously set tables sat Muslim women wearing colorful headscarves with oriental motifs, African-American clergymen from Queens, Jewish students from a Turkish charter school and veteran New York state politicians.

Politics, Turkey

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
As the world’s Muslim leaders admitted at last week’s Islamic summit, the past 1,400 tumultuous years of sectarian fighting did not bring peace and happiness to Muslim lands. But, judging from the happy smiles and big speeches at the summit, the next 1,400 tumultuous years may be better.

Politics, Turkey

NURAY MERT, hurriyetdailynews
At the end of the Organization of Istanbul Cooperation’s (OIC) Istanbul summit, our Turkish president declared that “terrorism and violence are the two biggest issues facing the Muslim world.” I don’t agree, (and this is not the first time that I don’t agree with the president). I think terror and violence are only two results of the issues that the “Muslim world” is facing. In fact, I’m not sure if such a thing as the “Muslim world” even exists as a collective in any real sense, let alone as the name of an identity. A better term may be “Muslim-majority countries.” Still it is true that there are some common issues that these countries face, and these are “Islam-related issues.”

Geopolitics, Turkey

Eldad Beck
Op-ed: While Turkey and Israel begin to thaw their relations following the Istanbul terror attack, Israel should be wary of getting too close to a dictator such as Erdoğan too quickly, taking into account his anti-Semitism and and oppressive policies.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
The logical answer is to go for the “moderate” Frankenstein. In reality, a better answer could be “neither,” since it will only be a matter of time before the “moderate” Frankenstein willingly metamorphoses into the real Frankenstein. Such are the options in Syria.

Politics, Turkey

Author Semih Idiz

Ankara is developing a dual-track approach to the Middle East by simultaneously courting bitter rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran to shore up its position in a region that has defied its plans and ambitions to date. Foreign policy experts say this new approach, which they consider to be a “work in progress,” has the potential to make Turkey an influential regional player again if it is allowed to mature.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
In his speeches to Turkish audiences but addressing world leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan often says that “there should be no good terrorists and bad terrorists” and that “terrorists are terrorists.” He’s right. But he is not realistic at all if he is seriously expecting the entire world to agree on his own definition of who is a terrorist and who is not.

Politics, Terrorism, Turkey

Simon Tisdall, theguardian
Even by Saudi Arabia’s extravagant standards, this week’s visit to Turkey by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, seen as a key moment for relations between the two leading Sunni Muslim powers, has set new records for opulence and paranoia.

by Burak Bekdil
During his visit to Washington, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security guards harassed and physically assaulted journalists trying to cover the event; they also forcibly attempted to remove several journalists, although they were on the guest list.

Author Metin Gurcan
This year, the coming of spring has not brightened the lives of people in Turkey's southeastern towns, where violence continues. The coming of spring means heavy winter conditions and melting snow are replaced by green trees and many rainy, foggy days. It also means a probable increase and expansion of clashes.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan has raised another large obstacle on the road to Turkish-Israeli reconciliation and normal ties. Saudi King Salman, who is visiting Cairo, confided to his host Egyptian president Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi that Erdogan had made it clear that he would not finally repair Ankara's ties with Israel until Sisi came forward to shake his hand, stopped being hostile and turned a new page in their relations.

Photo Gallery: The Autocrat on the Bosporus

REUTERS/ Presidential Palace
By Onur Burçak Belli, Markus Brauck, Clemens Höges, Hasnain Kazim, Katrin Kuntz, Ralf Neukirch, Ann-Katrin Nezik, René Pfister, Maximilian Popp, Gordon Repinski, Christoph Reuter, Christoph Schult and Samiha Shafy

The EU has placed its fate in the hands of Turkish President Erdogan. But the man who is to help solve the refugee crisis has recently shown more clearly than ever that he prefers autocracy to democracy. He is the price Europe must pay for failure.


Politics, Turkey

Ergun Babahan in Özgür Düşünce writes that it is becoming increasingly clear that the Palace wants to have a big purge in the ranks of the military. It is equally clear that the general staff is resisting this. The pro-palace media provoked a reaction from the general staff by its recent stories claiming that “Gülenist officers in the armed forces are going to carry out a coup.”

Military, Politics, Turkey

MUSTAFA AKYOL, hurriyetdailynews
I will begin this piece with an honest confession: As a Turkey observer, I failed in the first decade of this century to foresee the second decade. By the year 2010, I was very optimistic about “New Turkey,” believing it was on the road to becoming a liberal democracy. By 2016, however, we are, at best, a very illiberal democracy. In fact, with the notable and important exception of free elections, there is very little reason left today to count Turkey among the democracies of the world. Other criteria, such as rule of law, separation of powers, independent judiciary, freedom of speech and a free press, are sinking rapidly.

Politics, Turkey

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
In 2010, Turkey was “shaken” by the surfacing of alleged serial rapes in the southeastern city of Siirt, including “shocking” cases of adults raping minors and minors raping toddlers, killing one.

Culture, Politics, Turkey

Author Mahmut Bozarslan
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — In December 2015, armed clashes raged inside the ancient walls of the district of Sur, the historic heart of Diyarbakir in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey. Using heavy weapons and even tanks, the security forces battled to regain control of residential neighborhoods, where young militants loyal to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) entrenched themselves behind ditches and barricades.

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is determined to maintain a tough militaristic line against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He says the fight will go on until this group is destroyed.

Politics, Turkey

by Burak Bekdil, Middle East Quarterly,Spring 2016

Secular and liberal Turks sighed with premature relief when on June 7, 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) lost its parliamentary majority in general elections for the first time since it came to power in November 2002. With 41 percent of the national vote (compared with 49.8 percent in the 2011 general elections), the AKP won eighteen fewer seats than necessary to form a single-party government in Turkey's 550-member parliament. More importantly, its parliamentary seats fell widely short of the minimum number needed to rewrite the constitution in the way Erdoğan wanted it so as to introduce an executive presidential system that would give him uncontrolled powers with few checks and balances, if any.[1]

Politics, Turkey

Author Metin Gurcan
The Turkish military appears to be taking a hands-off approach to the country's toxic political environment, refusing to get stuck between the president's impassioned followers and fervent foes.In recent years, Turks had come to believe that the word “coup” had been discarded from the lexicon of the civilian-military relationship and that the news media had forgone using the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as a tool for shaping perceptions among the public.

Military, Politics, Turkey

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
The usual line “Turkey is bizarre” is no longer a sufficient term of portrayal. Real news reports have reached a level of amusing absurdity that they may in the future threaten humor readership in the country.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

They were once good friends
Last Friday, April 1, President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan had his first encounter with a group of American Jewish leaders, at his request. The full details of its contents were hard to sort out because the Turkish translator censored his master’s words with a heavy hand to make them more acceptable to his audience.

The sultan’s wife

There are fresh indications that Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not stop at introducing a republican presidential system for Turkey, but really wants to revive the Ottoman sultanate, writes Sayed Abdel-Meguid
Since his star began to shine in the Anatolian firmament at the beginning of this millennium, he has issued mysterious remarks that bore unmistakable theocratic signals. Suspicions were kindled further by that intense passion — some might say obsession — for distant glories that occurred centuries before the sun of the Ataturk republic rose in the 1920s.

Politics, Turkey

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews
It is not possible to consider President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Washington as a success by any count. The “strategic partnership” between the two countries continues but it is clear that relations are currently very tense.

Jonathan Schanzer
When then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last visited Washington in 2013, he received the full “valued ally” treatment, including an appearance with President Obama in the White House Rose Garden.
Nobody wants Turkey out of NATO, after years of military investments and alliance building. But its membership is harder and harder to justify.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife, Emine, walk down the stairs upon arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, on March 29.

Turkey's president, a man used to steamrolling his critics at home, is in for a rough visit to Washington.
As Recep Tayyip Erdogan began making the rounds in the U.S. capital Wednesday, dozens of foreign policy thinkers, including former ambassadors to Turkey, released a letter warning that the situation in the country is "deeply troubling."

In Erdogan’s Turkey, Everyone Is a Terrorist

For the president, there's no difference between critics and suicide bombers.

“Look at them!” a mother cried, pointing at a row of portraits lined up in a community hall of Diyarbakir, the largest city of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast.
“They were just children. How can all these children be terrorists?”
For two months, a group of mothers has gathered in this hall to hold a vigil for their children, nine teenagers killed during a military lockdown in Diyarbakir’s historic center. Their bodies still lie in the streets nearly three months after their deaths; their families have been unable to retrieve them amid ongoing clashes.

Armenian artillery position in Martakert, Nagorno-Karabakh. [EPA]


Can Kasapoglu
Recent clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region - an occupied Azerbaijani territory according to four United Nations Security Council resolutions - have claimed the lives of more than 30 from both sides. At the time of writing, Azerbaijan declared a unilateral ceasefire.


METİN GÜRCAN, hurriyetdailynews
Since July 20, 2015, Turkey has been mired in a spiral of violence. During the clashes in which around 1,000 people have lost their lives, the level of violence initiated by both the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish security forces has rapidly increased as the clashes have spread into urban areas. In addition to the rising death toll, the direct consequence of these urban clashes is socio-economic destruction, which has been getting worse with every passing day. Unfortunately, if the critical violence thresholds that have been crossed are not well analyzed, the spiral of violence in Turkey may turn into a trap of violence, implying a new wave of prolonged conflict which would be difficult to resolve in years to come.

The war between the military and Kurdish insurgents is really a conflict over what it means to be a citizen of Turkey. That’s why there’s no end in sight to the bloodshed.

The war between the Turkish military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is back, and it seems more ferocious than ever. Over the past six months, an estimated 500 civilians have been killed in fighting between Turkish security forces and the Kurdish insurgent group. In February and March, PKK suicide bombers struck at the heart of Turkey’s capital, killing a total of 67 people within steps of the prime ministry and in Ankara’s bustling Kizilay neighborhood. All the while, the Turkish military has laid siege to the towns of Cizre and Nusaybin, PKK strongholds in the southeast, razing apartment blocks and sending desperate civilians fleeing.

Author Metin Gurcan
The War Colleges Command in Istanbul is the highest training and education institution of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). After a stiff examination and selection process, about a hundred staff officer candidates are selected from among thousands of applicants. They assemble in Istanbul every March to mark the beginning of their academic year.

Politics, Turkey

Bloombergview, Eli Lake & Josh Rogin

When Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Washington this week, it will be an opportunity for President Barack Obama, as well as most of the Washington foreign policy establishment, to ponder how they so misread a man they had touted only a few years ago as a great reformer.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Apparently, the louder Turkey’s leaders talk of “principled foreign policy,” the faster we should count our spoons.

Here is a tiny, negligible parenthesis of the chronology of our virtuous, moral, unbiased, principled foreign policy: