December, 2016 Turkey

 Truce in Syria Turkey


Murat Yetin
The truce in Syria toward the end of the fifth year of the civil war was announced simultaneously by the Russian and Turkish foreign ministries on Dec. 29.

 Turkish army ISIS pushback


DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis 

Wednesday, Dec. 28, hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to deliver a major speech on his vision for the Middle East, Turkey and Russia announced a ceasefire plan going into effect the same night for the whole of Syria, and in all regions, where fighting between pro-government forces and opposition groups were taking place - excepting for terrorist organizations.
Moscow and Ankara assumed the role of guarantors of the process.

Kurdish state unlikely


Murat Yektin
A Hürriyet Daily News reader from Santa Barbara has written me a detailed and lengthy letter that actually echoes similar letters from other parts of the world. The U.S. military cooperation with Kurdish militants against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in the Syrian civil war has increased interest in the Kurdish question in the Middle East among American and European intellectuals. And the fact that the militants belong to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting with NATO member Turkey since 1984, confused the minds of Western intellectuals.

AK Parti Erdogan


Murat Yektin
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had another meeting on Dec. 26 with Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with whom he is cooperating on the constitutional draft that proposes axing the parliamentarian system in Turkey and ushering in an executive presidency, as targeted by President Tayyip Erdoğan.

Politics, Turkey
Aleppo Liberated


Moon of Alabama (USA)
As planned by the Russian forces the liberation of east-Aleppo was completed before Christmas. There are no longer beheadings by Takfiris in East-Aleppo. Instead a Christmas mass could be held in the damaged Elias Cathedral in the Old City in east-Aleppo.

Assassination  Russian ambassador

by Daniel Pipes
Australian

The assassination on Dec. 19 in Ankara of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, raises some major geopolitical issues: Will this act of violence break relations between the two countries, isolate Turkey, or – counterintuitively – improve their ties? And does this murder affect the Middle East and the world beyond?

Turkey diplomatic network


By Nazli Yuzbasioglu and Sultan Cogalan

ANKARA

With 235 diplomatic missions worldwide, Turkey now has globe's largest diplomatic network after 5 permanent UNSC members. Turkey has the sixth-largest diplomatic network in the world, according to an international global diplomacy index.

Aleppo or cemetery?


Yusuf Kanli
A Syria crisis-famed bearded “strategy expert” on a TV program was explaining how it was “normal” to have 14 casualties in a war being waged in a city. The expert said fighting a war with drones or armored vehicles was important in undermining the capacity of the enemy but in order to achieve victory, it was necessary to have boots on ground. 

Turkey caliphate

Author Pinar Tremblay

On Dec. 14, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unexpectedly declared national mobilization. Addressing muhktars (elected village and neighborhood headmen), Erdogan said, “Henceforth, neither terrorists nor their supporters will have a minute of peace.” He encouraged security forces not to hesitate to use their powers, while reiterating that Turkey cannot stay on the defensive but from now on will go on the offensive against terror organizations. 

Turkey-Israel: pipeline

Selin Nasi
Energy cooperation has been a major force driving Turkish-Israeli reconciliation.

Israel’s Leviathan gas field, the country’s largest natural gas reservoir, was discovered in 2010 and is believed to hold 621 billion cubic meters of gas.

Russian ambassador to Ankara


Burak Bekdil
Who killed Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara? Officially, the assassin is a young anti-riot police officer. According to the government narrative, he must be a pawn of the Gülenist terrorists who wanted to sabotage Turkey’s relations with Russia – just like the fighter jet pilots who shot down a Russian Su-24 on Nov. 24, 2015. This narrative is highly problematic. In reality, the Russian ambassador was the victim of an ugly sectarian war in this part of the world.

 Erdogan's money troubles

Author Amberin Zaman

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for citizens to convert their dollars to prop up the sagging Turkish lira continues to elicit colorful responses. Barbers promised free haircuts to customers who could prove that they had exchanged their dollars, and stonecutters offered free tombstones. Today, a crooner from the heavily Kurdish province of Hakkari answered the call and dumped his dollars, with a video to prove it.

Economy, Politics, Turkey
 Andrey Karlov


Murat Yektin
I knew Andrey Karlov in person. The Russian Ambassador to Ankara was from the old school, a Cold War warrior, who even served in North Korea. In the worst times of Turkish-Russian crisis over the Syria-plane downing affair, Karlov did not lose his calm.

Mavi Marmara case


Author Pinar Tremblay

On Dec. 2, the Mavi Marmara case brought against Israel for its assault on a Turkish ferryboat carrying humanitarian relief to Gaza met in court for the 21st time. The prosecutor asked for the dismissal of the case based on the agreement signed between Israel and Turkey in June. The victims’ families and activists at the court were furious, so the judge adjourned the session until Dec. 9.

Ambassador's assassination

 By YOSSI MELMAN 
Sources in Turkey were quick to blame supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish preacher who is in exile in the United States.

Gulen network


Irene Christodoulaki

Many people around the world heard the name Fethullah Gülen and the word Hizmet probably for the first time on 15 July 2016, when a fraction from the Turkish military tried to topple the elected government in Turkey.

Peace with Israel


by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute

Erdogan has long openly encouraged mass anti-Israel protests in Turkey, like this one in Istanbul, 2014.... Turkey is normalizing its relations with Israel -- in theory, at least. Ankara and Jerusalem agreed to appoint ambassadors to each other's country after an absence of more than six years. Two prominent career diplomats, Kemal Okem and Eitan Na'eh, will struggle to improve ties in Tel Aviv and Ankara, respectively. 

Aliens and UFOs


Burak Bekdıl
On Nov. 24, 2015, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets won the title of shooting down, from NATO’s side, the first ever Soviet-Russian military warplane since the end of World War II, saying it violated Turkish airspace along the country’s border with Syria.

Culture, Politics, Turkey
Erdoğan’s regime


President Erdoğan will stop at nothing to enforce his vision for a country that’s already changed dramatically.
By MELIK KAYLAN 

I have watched the authoritarian crackdown in Turkey unfold incrementally from near and far. I arrived back in the country a week after the attempted coup. Soon after, collective round-ups began and the mood changed sharply. Friends stopped answering their cellphones. They deleted me from their ID lists. They couldn’t risk leaving evidence of contact with me, a journalist from outside often critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime.

U.S.-Turkish relationship

Beyond the Myth of Partnership ,

Bipartisan Policy Center
Amid continued threats to U.S. national security and interests emanating from the Middle East, the promise of partnership and cooperation with Turkey will remain—as it has for the past two administrations—an alluring option for American policymakers. It is incredibly unlikely, however, that the U.S.-Turkish relationship can yield any strategic benefit at this point. 

New Turkey policy needed


By Robert Ellis
The report by a Washington think tank, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), “Beyond the Myth of Partnership: Rethinking U.S. Policy Toward Turkey,” confirms that both the U.S. and Europe share a common disillusion about developments in Turkey.

Turkish "martyr"

Burak Bekdil
If you typed the Turkish word for martyr (şehit) into Google on the day after the twin bombings in Istanbul, you would have gotten more than 4.5 million results. Until a few decades ago, “martyr” in official and public Turkish lexicon meant a soldier who died while defending their homeland from occupying powers. 

Turkey  Middle Eastern markets


Author Mustafa Sonmez
TranslatorSibel Utku Bila

 

The turbulence in the Turkish economy, marked by a dramatic depreciation of the Turkish lira, is forcing Ankara to consider emergency measures. While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led a campaign against the threat of dollarization, the government last week unveiled a package of measures to appease and buoy up economic actors.

 Turkey's Erdogan


By Fadi Hakura

(CNN)President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's dream of transforming Turkey into a powerful executive presidency is one step closer to reality.

Last Saturday, the ruling Justice and Development Party introduced a 21-article constitutional amendment to vastly strengthen the powers of the head of state.

Turkey space agency


Author Metin Gurcan, TranslatorTimur Göksel

Turkey's efforts in the satellite space race have experienced turbulence over the years, but they got a boost with the recent launch of its Gokturk-1 satellite, which will meet the country’s civilian and military intelligence needs around the world.

Turkish economy shrinks

ANKARA/ISTANBUL

Turkey’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by a bigger than expected 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2016 on weak consumer spending and exports, data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) showed on Dec. 12, marking the first year-on-year decline in quarterly economic growth since 2009.

 Turkey Syria


Turkey presses for reset with Russia

Amberin Zaman

Reports that “Turkey’s outsize ambitions in Syria lie in shreds as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad press on to assert control over the rebel strongholds that remain in Aleppo.”SummaryTurkey’s Syria policies "lie in shreds"; Syrian Kurds coordinate with government forces in Aleppo; would Russia support federalism in Syria?

Turkey leadership


Mehmet Y.Yilmaz
According to those who are ruling our country, we are experiencing an international attack. It is said that they have trained their “economy weapons” on us and are firing. First, they hit exports and tourism. Now, through foreign currency speculation, they are trying to destroy our economy. “The negative atmosphere fostered by certain groups” has caused an artificial hike in foreign exchange rates.

Politics, Turkey
Turkey Untergang

 MIDDLE EAST MELTDOWN
ERIC BROWN

Western policymakers need to get comfortable with the fact that the Turkish Republic as we have known it is no more. The Turkish Republic—as we’ve known it for about the past half century since its transformation from an initial authoritarian phase (1923–50) into a creaky but democratizing multiparty polity—has fallen. For any practical purpose it is no more, and Western policymakers need to shake themselves from their mental torpor and wishful thinking to take the full measure of what this means.

Currency speculators

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has claimed Turkey’s struggling economy is under attack from foreign exchange speculators, while also praising citizens who have converted their foreign currencies into liras.

Economy, Politics, Turkey
Turkish economy


Serkan Dermitas
Even his foes admit the talent of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a politician in reaching out to the people and molding public opinion on even controversial issues, an ability that secured him an indisputable leadership since late 2002.

Economy, Politics, Turkey
Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman Geopolitics

 
The geopolitical and geostrategic interests and balance in Turkey, due to its current Islamist Government lead by the authoritarian President Erdogan, have changed the country in last 15 years to an unrecognizable degree.

Turkey’s economic crises

Nuray Mert
I should be the last person to write on economic matters, since it is neither my profession nor my passion. Nevertheless, none of us need to be experts nowadays to see that the prospects for Turkey’s economy are rather dim.

Main Course: Turkey


by Tyler Durden
While investors are focused on Italy, Bloomberg's Mark Cudmore warns that another Mediterranean country is poised to grab their attention very soon. A currency crisis in Turkey is rapidly deteriorating, setting the stage for dramatic and unscheduled central bank action.

Mustafa Kemal


By Toni Alaranta  The Turkey Analyst

The debate on political Islam under the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) needs to fully acknowledge the crucial importance of nationalism as the enduring element of any relevant form of mass politics in Turkey. 

Culture, Politics, Turkey
Russia, China, Iran Erdogan

Turkey is seeking to conduct trade with Russia, China and Iran in national currencies, announced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a shopping mall in Istanbul, Erdoğan said that he had proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to conduct trade between the two countries with local currencies, hurriyetdailynews.com reported.

 Dead end in Aleppo


Cengiz Candar writes, “The fate of Aleppo has the potential to seal the fate of [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's regime in Turkey. Too many of Erdogan's eggs are placed in the basket of northern Syrian geopolitics, and most of them are likely to crack.”

Turkey party state

Serkan Dermitas
Although the text has not been publicized yet, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has already begun collecting the required signatures from its lawmakers for a constitutional amendment package in a bid to accelerate the process to introduce a presidential system.

Politics, Turkey
Erdogan iBlunders and Bluster

 Melik Kaylan
Turkey's President Erdogan has put himself in a geostrategic corner with almost no options. Having publicly railed against the US for allegedly supporting the failed coup at least tacitly, he has roused popular feeling against Turkey's NATO alliance. 

Fat school bully’

Burak Bekdil
In 2004 when the then prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was receiving praise after praise from the West’s blind leaders for his “reformism and supreme democratic credentials,” he abruptly reverted to his Islamist self: He drafted a bill that would outlaw adultery. Under pressure from Brussels, he had to drop the idea, but since then, he has danced around the theme of outlawing “sins” stated in the Islamic holy book.

Turkey split from the West


Author Metin Gurcan
People nowadays seriously wonder if Turkey is about to split from the West. Is Turkey’s opening up to the East, which became more noticeable after the July 15 coup attempt, a passing reaction to the lack of interest shown by the United States and Europe, or is it Ankara’s more independent and nonaligned policy choice? Will the honeymoon between Ankara and Moscow in recent weeks become a long-term alliance? 

 ANKARA TURKMENS


AYKAN ERDEMIR AND MERVE TAHIROGLU
The Mosul operation has made the predominantly Turkmen city of Tal Afar the latest focus of Turkey and Iran’s sectarian struggle for influence in post-Islamic State Iraq. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned against allowing Iran-backed Shiite militias to liberate the city.

Aleppo Day after


The fall of Aleppo could lead to a further increase in tension between the Syrian regime and Turkey.
Francesco Belcastro

The Syrian army’s rapid advances in eastern Aleppo last weekend have rekindled discussions over what the consequences would be of the fall of the besieged northern city. Observers seem to agree on the fact that (barred dramatic changes on the ground) the regime will be able to take control of Eastern Aleppo.

Turkish left

 MUSTAFA AKYOL

The passing of Fidel Castro was big news in Turkey as in much of the world. What was interesting was the unreserved adoration the Turkish left expressed for the late Cuban dictator. Socialist newspapers such as BirGün came out with headlines that praised “The Commandante,” as social media flooded with love for the great socialist hero and his glorious revolution.

Politics, Turkey
 Erdogan US, Russia  Syria


Author Semih Idiz
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been promising since September to liberate the northern Syrian town of al-Bab from the Islamic State (IS) and move east to Manbij to rid it of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Turkey claims that the YPG — the core of the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting IS — and its parent organization, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), are terrorist groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but it has failed to generate international support for this position.

Beware Of Turkey


Endy Zemenides
In just under two months, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. As many of his predecessors learned before him, no amount of intelligence briefings, travel or business experience, or even previous foreign policy experience fully girds a new President and his team for that first time they get called to the Situation Room to deal with an international crisis.