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  • February 2017 (4)

    Policy reforms in Turkey and Iran
    Güven Sak, PhD 06 February 2016
    Today there are two types of countries in our region, the Middle East and North Africa. Within these two categories there are countries that are functioning market economies and those that aren’t. The first category is rather lonely: only Turkey and Israel have functioning market economies in our neighborhood. In the other countries, you need to get on well with the political elites to gain access to markets. If political relations are down, the best products and services at the best prices won’t be enough to get access. This has significant consequences. If your economy is sputtering while the world around you keeps going, public discontent will sooner or later erupt into protest. I see the election of President Rouhani as the start of a process of pragmatic transformation in Ir [More]
    A new Turkish constitution is good for peace in Syria
    Güven Sak, PhD 30 January 2016
    Turkey’s insistence on the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) not getting an invitation to participate in the Geneva peace talks has made an already messy situation even messier. Yet it is understandable. The PYD was a small Syrian Kurdish organization established by Abdullah Öcalan, the now-jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), during his exile to Damascus in the 1980s. The group has now become the major force in Syrian Kurdistan, getting direct military support from the West. This means that Turkey’s allies are giving a sister organization of the PKK - a separatist outfit they recognize as a terrorist organiztion - direct military support. This has changed the scales of Turkey’s reconciliation process.The Syrian civil war complicated Turkey’s reconciliat [More]
    Will the Kurdish song end here?
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 January 2016
    Is this the end of the Kurdish reconciliation process? Do the aggressive anti-PKK operations in the southeast of the country mean that Turkey is going back to the 1990s? I don’t think so. Why? Simple. Because Turkey in 2016 is different from Turkey in the 1990s in very important ways. It is so different that we will see a new dynamic unfolding this time. Let me explain. [More]
    Is a bon pour L’Orient governance enough for Turkey?
    Güven Sak, PhD 16 January 2016
    Turkey belongs to the Middle East. So said 58% of participants to a recent Kadir Has (Khas) University survey. At first, I was surprised to see this result. Turks usually prefer to see themselves as being part of Europe. We constantly underline our country’s Europeanness, be it in saying that we have the “biggest truck fleet in Europe,” or our membership in the Erasmus student exchange program. But perhaps things are changing. The Khas survey conducted in the first half of this past December indicates the emergence of a new pattern. Let me elaborate. [More]
    Where is Turkey in the Sunni-Shia conflict?
    Güven Sak, PhD 09 January 2016
    With tensions growing between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the sectarian conflict in the Middle East is approaching boiling point. The second American intervention to Iraq altered the long-established balance in our region, and created an environment where sectarianism emerged to the surface. The Arab awakening shattered whatever checks remained. The tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia threaten to escalate this conflict to the state level. [More]
    From Children of the Recession to the Children of Sur
    Güven Sak, PhD 02 January 2016
    The Sur district of Diyarbakır province is under curfew these days. Security forces are trying to take down barricades in the streets, often “manned” by mere teenagers. As important as it is to resolve the security problem, our questions cannot stop there. [More]
    Will Turkey be cautious in 2016, or will it be bold?
    Güven Sak, PhD 27 December 2015
    How do I see Turkey in 2016? That is one of the questions I have been asked frequently in the last few weeks. As New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, let me clarify my position: I consider 2016 to be a trying year for Turkey. Even though the odds will not be in our favor, the overall outcome will heavily depend upon how Turks are going to deal with the issues at hand. So 2016 can either be a year of living boldly or a year of living cautiously for Turks. I think we should all err on the side of caution. [More]
    Why 2016 is going to be a crucial year for the G20
    Güven Sak, PhD 20 December 2015
    I was in Beijing last week. I was lucky because there was a breeze throughout my stay. Without it, the sky is gray throughout, and the smog makes you cough incessantly. Beijing’s population was around 10 million in the early 1990s, with only one ring road to connect the outskirts. The population doubled in the past 25 years, and now Beijing has 6 ring roads, with the 7th one to be built soon. It will be around 1000 kilometers, I was told. So China has changed. The iconic bicycles of the 1980s have disappeared, and the cars that replaced them have poisoned the air. Beijing might be the most egregious case, but China’s other urban areas aren’t very different. That is because China’s leaders made a tradeoff. They chose job creation and growth at the expense of urban sprawl. Why did it have to [More]
    The Chinese 4 “i”s to the 3 Turkish “i”s for a G20 more relevant to the developing world
    Güven Sak, PhD 05 December 2015
    Turkey’s G20 Presidency ended with the Antalya Summit last month, and the Chinese year has already begun with the release of the document “China G20 2016: G20 Summit 2016, China” that underlines its priorities for 2016. Looking back at the Turkish G20 priorities document released approximately one year ago, one remembers the 3 i’s - inclusiveness, implementation and investment. The Chinese raised the stakes to 4 i’s. The document states “China, assuming the G20 presidency for 2016, stands ready to work together with all members towards an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.” What does that mean? If you ask me, the Chinese document says that the G20 is becoming more relevant for developing countries. In 2016, China will continue with the trend - initiated by [More]
    Shooting down the Russian jet a symptom of Turkey’s central malaise
    Güven Sak, PhD 28 November 2015
    Ever since Turkey downed the Russian Su-24 on its border with Syria, I have been thinking about the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident between Israel and Turkey. In many ways, the jet incident is to Russia what the Mavi Marmara was to Turkey. Russia’s demands for an apology made the cases all the more similar. The only difference is that Russia understands this is not about legality, but rather about saving face. [More]