Archive

  • October 2018 (2)
  • September 2018 (3)
  • August 2018 (4)
  • July 2018 (2)
  • June 2018 (4)
  • May 2018 (3)
  • April 2018 (5)
  • March 2018 (3)
  • February 2018 (5)
  • January 2018 (4)
  • December 2017 (4)
  • November 2017 (3)

    The year 2007 was a perfect storm for Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 13 January 2018
    “Countries don’t disappear, it has been said, but sometimes they do encounter perfect storms.” wrote Jorge Castaneda, a Mexican politician and academic, the other day in the NYT, “these do not threaten their existence, yet they can represent major challenges to their welfare and integrity.”2007 was such a year for Turkey. Let me explain why this is important today. [More]
    A tale of three countries: Turkey, China and Iran
    Güven Sak, PhD 06 January 2018
    I was in Tehran right after President Rouhani was first elected. The hotel rooms were fully booked, with businesspeople and journalists from across the world. The story was that Iran was deciding to return to our world from the parallel universe the country has exiled itself to around 40 years ago. There is now discontent on Iranian streets. I see this as frustration with the pace of the reform process. [More]
    In the Dollar Turks Trust
    Güven Sak, PhD 30 December 2017
    I was very surprised the other day when asked whether Turkey would “clam up” economically in 2018, meaning whether it would close in on itself. To give a bit of a background, Turkey started to open up with the Özal reforms in the 1980s, and the process reached its apex in 1989, with the total liberalization of capital account. Ever since, “opening up” to Turk is synonymous to getting freer and richer. “Clamming up” would be the opposite. Let me be very clear: Economically, this is unthinkable. Politically, it would be a suicide. Why? [More]
    How is the EU doing post-Brexit?
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 December 2017
    Last week, Brussels  started an unprecedented process to suspend the voting rights of Poland within the EU mechanism.  “The Commission has today concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland,” said the official statement.  The Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, considered Poland’s judicial reforms as a serious breach of Polish courts’ independence. “Not good for European values” says the EU. What does this mean? Let me elaborate. [More]
    Rising US unilateralism is a bad thing
    Güven Sak, PhD 09 December 2017
    Ten years ago, I was in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s “reunification” of the city in 1967. I got into a taxi in West Jerusalem to go to East Jerusalem. The traffic was heavy, with new checkpoints everywhere. “It has been like this every year,” said my Israeli driver, “reunification, my ass.” Jerusalem was a divided city then, and it is one today. Nobody seems to have told Donald Trump that very basic fact. [More]
    Take the NATO incident more seriously
    Güven Sak, PhD 25 November 2017
    Have you seen that special Eurobarometer survey on the effect of digitization and automation on daily life? It was released this May. Only 7 percent of the participants say that they find news stories coming from social media trustworthy. 93 percent are not influenced. Considering all that talk about Russian interference, the idea may seem comforting. Not so fast.  You may think that 7 percent is not that big, but think about acutely divided societies. 7 percent is more than enough to destabilize a country by itself. [More]
    Fighting sclerosis in KSA
    Güven Sak, PhD 12 November 2017
    There’s a book-turned-Hollywood film called “A Hologram for the King.” Basically, Tom Hanks is a struggling businessman who takes a plane to Saudi Arabia to sell the King a hologram machine. He’s promised a meeting, but once he is in the kingdom, he finds out that it’s harder said than done. He’s constantly shuttled back and forth to places, told that the king “might come today,” made to wait unspecified amounts of time in hotel lobbies and royal palaces. I felt like that when I was waiting for my meetings in the kingdom last year too. My very own “a hologram for the king” moment. It’s a sclerotic place. [More]
    Why I felt offended by Macron’s remarks
    Güven Sak, PhD 05 November 2017
    Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Council of Europe and spoke at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It was the first time a French president was visiting the court. “Today, we are in a situation in which several member states do not respect the terms of the [European Human Rights] Convention in a clear manner,” he said. “For example, with Turkey and Russia, which are not the only examples, the risk is evident,” he added. Despite the note that there were others in apparent violation of the convention, I find this comparison rather offensive. Why? [More]
    A near-total absence of nation-states in the Middle East
    Güven Sak, PhD 29 October 2017
    It’s strange. You go just a little south of Turkey’s border and all of a sudden there are no nation states around; there are either sectarian and ethnic warlords or companies that govern territories and imitate the actions of nation states. [More]
    Message well received
    Güven Sak, PhD 22 October 2017
    The last time I was in a crowded room waiting for a visa interview, I saw many Iranians around. That’s the first time I realized what it meant to be an Iranian. It’s not only about having to apply for visas all the time, like Turks, but also about finding a country to apply for your visa in – in this case, Turkey. “Too tiring,” I remember saying to myself. “Too much time and money wasted on something so intangible.” Now, Turks have been reduced to the state of their neighbors in the East. [More]