May, 2016 Turkey

 Erdogan and Netanyahu

Turkish and Israeli officials plan to hold more meeting toward the restoration of high level diplomatic ties, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Two out of Ankara’s three conditions for restoring fully normalized ties with Israel have been met, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.


Robert Fisk

Europe’s growing Kurdish diaspora would be vastly increased if the crushed and war-suffering masses of Diyarbakir could find their way to Germany, Denmark and Sweden
Just why is the Sultan of Turkey so impatient to get hold of that visa-free EU travel for his people to visit Schengen Europe? If the EU doesn’t jump to it, he orated last week, the Turkish parliament would scupper the whole deal and – for this was the implication – let that army of Arab refugees set sail again across the Aegean for Greece. And where was the €3bn Turkey was promised?

Author Mustafa Akyol 

A poll by the Pew Research Center in October highlighted a trend in Turkish society with foreign policy implications: Turks hold deeply unfavorable views of other nations. The most disliked nation proved to be Israel, with only 2% of Turks expressing any sympathy for the Jewish state. The United States also turned out to be highly unpopular, with only 19% of polled Turks expressing sympathy. Similarly unpopular were the European Union, China, Brazil and Russia.

Özgür Mumcu in Cumhuriyet notes that the presence of the chief of the general staff, General Hulusi Akar, as a witness as the wedding of Sümeyye Erdoğan, the youngest of President Erdoğan’s daughters, provoked angry reactions among those who – like betrayed lovers -- are used to pinning their hopes on the military.

Politics, Turkey

The new leader of the AKP, Binali Yildirim [centre] poses with MPs as he casts his vote during a debate to lift the immunity of Turkish parliamentarians [Reuters]

Ahmed al-Burai
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly been calling for the prosecution of the mainly Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) members of the parliament, accusing them of acting as a political wing of the outlawed terrorist organisation, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Politics, Turkey

by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute

Turkey and the European Union (EU) have been negotiating a deal that ostensibly would stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe; Turkey, on its part, would bring dozens of laws and regulations, including its draconian anti-terror laws, in line with Europe's; and nearly 80 million Turks would then be given visa-free travel to the EU's borderless Schengen zone. But now, as Turkey refuses to amend its anti-terror laws, the deal seems to be facing a stalemate.

Politics, Turkey

Selcan Hacaoglu 

As President Erdogan consolidates power in Ankara, separatists 1,000 kilometers away test the limits of his reach.
The curfew in this former Roman and Persian imperial outpost was announced the modern way, online, but word quickly spread like it has here for three millennia. By dawn, tens of thousands of people were gone.
For separatist Kurds in Turkey, curfew is code for crackdown. So when one was declared in Nusaybin on the Syrian border in March, most of its 90,000 residents ran with whatever they could carry.

 Binali Yildirim greets party members during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, May 19, 2016

Among twelve reshuffled and eight new ministers in new Turkey’s cabinet, two appointments are particularly revealing. On Tuesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a new cabinet, proposed by new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who took the position vacated by Ahmet Davutoglu. Journalists note that many key figures retained their positions in the cabinet, though as many as twelve have new responsibilities.

Article illustrative image

Will the Turkish President's discarded former allies ever dare to form a new party to challenge him?


ISTANBUL — Justice and Development Party (AKP) leaders never liked the way Ahmet Davutoğlu became Turkey’s prime minister two years ago, nor did they approve of his performance or professional style once he got the job. The only thing they actually appreciated was the way he left.

Author Semih Idiz
Turkey’s ties with the European Union appeared to be set on a better course recently after having remained largely dormant over the past few years. This was not due, however, to a decision by Ankara to introduce the democratic reforms necessary for its membership bid in the EU. The refugee crisis forced Europe into cooperating with Ankara, even though Turkey’s democracy continues to deteriorate under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Author Semih Idiz

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ouster of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to clear his own path to absolute power has left many wondering what effect the move will have on Turkey's foreign policy orientation and its relations with the West in particular.

Politics, Turkey

Refugee camp Turkey

By Behlül Özkan 
In many ways, Turkey is the most important actor shaping the refugee crisis that is currently shaking Europe to its core. Accordingly, predicting the outcome of the drama requires a close study of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s underlying motives and goals.

MARC PIERINI, Financial Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s goal of unchallenged power is firmly rooted after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation. The novelty is that it is happening with Germany’s acquiescence.
With Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu forced from office, Turkey has passed a political watershed: Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s goal of unchallenged power at the top of the state is rooted ever more firmly in fact. Given his behaviour since he became president in 2014, this in itself is no great surprise; the novelty is that it is happening with Berlin’s full acquiescence.

By Halil Karaveli
The dynamics of capitalist development have played a much more central role for Turkey’s journey from secularism to religious conservatism – and before that for the Kemalist break with Islam – than what is generally recognized.

Economy, Politics, Turkey

MURAT YETKİN, hurriyetdailynews
In the opening session of the first ever United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, which started in Istanbul on May 23, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan strongly criticized the U.N.’s inability to take and execute decisive moves to address man-made crises, giving the example of the Syria civil war.

Author Cengiz Çandar
The political union of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and departing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was a marriage of convenience. Davutoglu knew this when Erdogan handpicked him to succeed him as head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and thus the premiership of Turkey.

In this Tuesday, June 10, 2014 photo, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sits in the pilot's sesat during a presentation for the Turkish-made military attack helicopter, T129 ATAK, outside Ankara, Turkey


Thirteen years after Recep Tayiip Erdogan stepped into the Turkish political establishment, the country's army that was oppressed, is now restoring its positions, US media assert.

Politics, Turkey

By Bradley Martin
There is no reason to believe that Turkey’s facilitation of ISIS operations in the region, and its link to ISIS both economically and politically, will cease.With Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announcing that he would step down at the end of the month due to a falling-out with the Turkish president, it is very unlikely that a major shift in Turkish foreign policy will take place anytime soon.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Under the management of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) foreign policy, it has been a real challenge to keep a count of the flight itineraries of Turkish ambassadors in foreign capitals. Those who are recalled, resent, then recalled again, then resent or not… But all such punishing diplomatic moves have one thing in common: The extra flight costs have not changed the course of events that Turkey has protested about in the countries where Turkish ambassadors have been on the move.


It has been six years since the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara ship that was aiming to reach the Gaza coast in May 2010.In the wake of the Mavi Marmara crisis, Turkey and Israel relations rapidly worsened; both countries withdrew their ambassadors and cut diplomatic ties. Turkey's downing of a Russian jet along the Syrian border on November 24, 2015 has forced Ankara to adjust its foreign policy and address its energy security issues. The crisis between Turkey and Russia firmly highlighted the dependence of Turkey on Russian energy resources.


by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute

A rhetorical question by the time the Economist ran this cover of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in June 2013.
Why would a prime minister, who only a few months ago won a general election with 49.5% of the vote, step down? Corruption allegations? A soaring opposition? Plummeting public approval for this or that reason? A scandalous affair that fell into the public domain?

Politics, Turkey

Author Cengiz Çandar
The collision between Turkey and the European Union (EU) was not unexpected, arriving as it did before mid-May. Now, attention has turned to the next looming crisis, between Ankara and Berlin.


By Gareth H. Jenkins

Ahmet Davutoğlu has left as he came, not in response to popular demand but at President Erdoğan’s behest. Apparently unsighted by his unfailing self-belief, Davutoğlu was caught unprepared when Erdoğan made his move. The overthrow of Davutoğlu has demonstrated the naivety of the EU’s policy of appeasement. The EU officials believed that by focusing on Davutoğlu, they were strengthening him politically as a counterweight to Erdoğan. This may have been naïve, self-serving or both. It was certainly not true. But it did reinforce Erdoğan’s suspicions of Davutoğlu.


Cartoon by Sam Ben-Meir

Alon Ben-Meir, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Affairs, NYU
The forced resignation of Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu suggests only one thing—President Erdogan, who is totally absorbed by his lust for power, will tolerate no one in his government to deviate from any of his political positions. Prime Minister Davutoğlu was no exception. Although the Turkish constitution grants the Prime Minister executive powers while leaving the role of the president largely ceremonial, this is not what Erdogan had in mind when he asked then-Foreign Minister Davutoğlu to form a new government following the last election.

Politics, Turkey

Turkish nationalist organization Gray wolves , wave their flags during a rally by Turkey's opposition Nationalist Action Party, MHP in Ankara, Turkey, May 24, 2015

Why has Washington been blind to Turkey's misdeeds in Syria and Iraq, including the bombing of the Syrian Kurds and oil smuggling in Syria and Iraq? The truth of the matter is that since the beginning of the Cold War era US leadership has viewed Ankara as a valuable geostrategic ally.

Politics, Turkey

Only four years ago, some Washington Middle East “experts” were promoting the “Turkish Model” for the future of political Islam in the Middle East. Now, their silence is deafening. After all, the Model proved not to be a good model. Now, all tricks to float the theory of a democratic rule by political Islam seem to have reached their utter and complete failure. It is hard to imagine that there would be any more ingenious tricks in the future, but who knows.

MUSTAFA AKYOL, hurriyetdailynews
If there is one major Turkish political party that the Western media shows almost no interest in, it must be the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). It is often described as “far-right,” “ultra-nationalist” or even “fascist,” and of course these are the labels that make everybody repulsed and look the other way.

Politics, Turkey

by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute
Ismail Kahraman, speaker of Turkey's parliament, last week stated, "We are a Muslim country. That is why we need a religious constitution."
The speaker of the parliament is no ordinary office in Turkey. The speaker comes second in the state protocol only after the president (and even before the prime minister). Such is the seat occupied since November by Ismail Kahraman, an MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


There is a duel going on in Turkey’s southern province of Kilis. Since the beginning of the year, forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have fired katyusha rockets into Kilis. The Turkish Armed Forces (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri, TSK) have responded with artillery fire and airstrikes, reportedly killing at least 862 ISIL fighters this year.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his meeting with mukhtars at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey's ruling AK Party is seeking support from the nationalist opposition for constitutional changes to increase President Tayyip Erdogan's powers, but any alliance hinges on whether its veteran leader can fight off a bid to oust him.

Politics, Turkey

America Loses Its Man in Ankara

Prime Minister AhmetDavutoglu was Washington’s behind-the-scenes ally in Turkey’s fight against the Islamic State. Now what happens?
Thursday’s surprise resignation of Turkish Prime Minister AhmetDavutoglu risks upending the currently fraught but still functioning relationship between Washington and Ankara — two wary allies that nonetheless need each other in their shared fight against the Islamic State.

Author Amberin Zaman

"We would expect that Turkey will follow its own democratic procedures … I am not going to speak to the specifics of an internal process there inside Turkey. Gotta go." With these dismissive comments, US State Department spokesman John Kirby ducked questions at a press briefing last week about a Turkish government-inspired bill to strip lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity and clear the path for their prosecution over alleged crimes.

MURAT YETKİN, hurriyetdailynews
Turkish political literature has introduced a new phrase, “low profile prime minister,” since Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced he was leaving his post and the chairmanship of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) in a snap congress on May 22.

Politics, Turkey

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Had they come across each other as ideological adversaries, Ahmet Davutoğlu could have been one of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political nemeses – had Mr. Davutoğlu’s devotion not been to anything other than the “dawa,” the Islamist political cause. His blind, romantic commitment to the dawa keeps him loyal to the man who, he believes, has advanced political Islam in Turkey and the former Ottoman lands, well, despite his excesses here and there. Therefore, disloyalty to that man will mean disloyalty to the dawa which, then, will mean a denial of his own raison d’être.

Politics, Turkey

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews

Turkey is confronted with a unique situation that it has never had to face before. The president, who constitutionally should be non-partisan and above politics, has gotten rid of the elected prime minister in order to turn the existing parliamentary system into a de facto leadership one for himself - even though the constitution does not allow this.

Politics, Turkey

NURAY MERT, hurriyetdailynews
Now, it is Erdoğan’s Turkey, like it or not. I have been writing about the authoritarian tilt in Turkey for six years. We are now at the end of the story, after the parliamentary regime’s last prime minister was deposed in a curious way last week by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Politics, Turkey

Author Mustafa Akyol
In Turkey, prime ministers normally lose their job when they lose an election, or they lose the majority of the seats in the parliament due to a break down in their party. Turkey’s current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had none of those problems. He had won a sweeping election victory just six months ago and his party is more intact than ever. Yet, still he had to give a farewell speech on May 5. He announced that there will be a surprise snap party congress in 17 days to chose the new party leader, but he himself will not run. “This is not my decision,” he said, “but a necessity.”

Politics, Turkey


Turkey’s thuggish president has European leaders exactly where he wants them
Douglas Murray

Update: Since this article was published Ahmet Davutoglu has resigned as Turkey’s Prime Minister. Reports suggest this comes as a result of a rift with President Erdogan caused by the increasingly ‘Presidential’ nature of Turkey’s politics.

Author Pinar Tremblay

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is stepping down and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will hold an extraordinary congress on May 22 to elect a new chairman and prime minister. Davutoglu will not be one of the candidates on the ballot. Sources in Ankara explain the process as the graceful exit of Davutoglu from a messy situation and preserving the AKP's status. Al-Monitor columnist Mustafa Akyol has provided a succinct account of the May 1 Pelican Brief blog that rocked Ankara and led to Davutoglu's downfall.

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's prime minister announced Thursday that he will stand down, giving the country's increasingly authoritarian president free reign to appoint someone less likely to challenge him —a development that could have implications for Turkey's internal conflicts and external relations.

Politics, Turkey

Simon Tisdall, theguardian
One of the biggest casualties of the power struggle at the top of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) may be the critically important deal with the EU on stemming the unprecedented flow of refugees to Europe from Syria’s civil war.

MURAT YETKİN, hurriyetdailynews
Following a meeting with President Tayyip Erdoğan on May 5 that lasted 1 hour 40 minutes, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is taking the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) to an emergency congress on May 22, saying he will not put his name forward as a leadership candidate.

Politics, Turkey


By Manolis Kostidis
There are persistent rumors circulating in the last few days about the possibility of the resignation of Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu due to major disagreements with Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to the author of the turkish newspaper Hürriyet, Abdulkadir Selvi, at the central committee of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Davutoglu was asked if he is thinking of resigning and he replied that “I have not decided yet. I am in the process of examination of the matter. I will consider everything and will decide”.

Politics, Turkey

Back in August 2014, when Erdogan and Davutoglu were besties 

ANKARA — Turkey's hyperactive political halls are currently buzzing around a blog post called pelikan dosyası ("the pelican file"), which alleges to reveal serious behind-the-scenes tension between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Politics, Turkey

ISTANBUL–Many business centers, hospitals, shopping malls and five-star hotels in Moscow as well as signature buildings like the Federation Tower, Evolution Tower and the International House of Music were built by Turkish contractors. But not a single structure built by them has come up there since last November.


The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) recently declared Mehmet Görmez, the head of Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs – the “Diyanet” as it is often referred to – an apostate. The Diyanet is in charge of Turkey’s nation-wide network of mosques, making this an attack on mainstream Sunni Islam in Turkey.

Agencies in Istanbul
Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is set to pave the way for his own departure on Thursday in a dramatic turn of events that will boost the power of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Politics, Turkey

MURAT YETKİN, hurriyetdailynews
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had been waiting for days for this good news from the European Union about visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.

It came as part of the broader immigration deal with Brussels, but it was Davutoğlu’s idea to bring it forward to June, rather than October, that would make it his success.

 (Photo: Getty)

Douglas Murray

Nobody should be surprised that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has instituted effective blasphemy laws to defend himself from criticism in Turkey. But many of us had assumed that these lèse-majesté laws would not yet be put in place inside Europe. At least not until David Cameron succeeds in his long-held ambition to bring Turkey fully into the EU. Yet here we are. Erdogan’s rule now already extends to Europe.

Politics, Turkey

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Secular Turks should relax. Not because their president, prime minister and a whole bunch of ruling party commissars outright rejected Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman’s idea to draft a “religious” constitution so that the secular ethos of the charter goes away. Turkey will be the same Turkey with or without secular principles in its new constitution.

Politics, Turkey