A different Afghanistan, a different Taliban?
30 November 2021
Remember Charlie Wilson’s War? Tom Hanks is playing the infamous Congressman who singlehandedly increased US funding for the Afghan mujahedeen in their fight against the Soviet Union. Apparently, Wilson increased it from $5 million to $500 million, with Saudi Arabia matching him dollar-to-dollar. Not bad.
Why transition to climate neutrality is more complex than you think
12 October 2021
If you jump to 2050 directly from today, economic models indicate that the world will be fine. Technology and economic growth eventually even out the earth’s population, there’s plenty of jobs and we’re not destroying the ecosystem too badly anymore. The problem lies in the 28 years in between. It’s all about the transition to climate neutrality.
China and Turkey after 9/11
21 September 2021
I was in my Office at the Central Bank of Turkey, preparing for a meeting with the IMF team when the first plane hit the Twin Towers. So much has changed since, and the most important aspect of it has nothing to do with the so-called “war on terror” that started afterwards.
Is the transformative power of Europe back?
13 September 2021
Enlargement used to be the superpower of Europe. It was like the reverse of migration – instead of individuals leaving their countries and moving to Europe, it moved Europe to them. If your country accepted the Acquis, Europe was telling you that it was going to help transform your country into a European version of itself. This was a kind of empire building by consent. Then Europe lost both its interest and its ability to transform its neighbors.
The Problem with Afghan Reconstruction
24 August 2021
After spending around $40 billion a year, the Americans have realized the futility of their efforts in nation building in Afghanistan. Nothing much has changed in the country during their twenty years trying to tame it. Afghanistan’s people still do not define themselves as Afghans, but rather as Pashtun, Tajik or Uzbek. So it’s time to “liquidate unsound positions” as George F. Kennan said about Vietnam. But why now?
Afghanistan, but without the Americans
15 August 2021
In April, President Biden announced his decision to leave Afghanistan. He was ending America’s “forever wars” in order to focus on what the Department of Defense calls a “near-peer adversary,” by which it means China. So no more counterinsurgency. No more street battles, no more winning “hearts and minds.”
Confronting disaster statelessly
08 August 2021
Beirutis are no strangers to earth-shattering explosions. Stories of airstrikes, even car bombs will not be too rare among the city’s inhabitants. Yet there is an unusual amount of anger and frustration among the Lebanese when it comes to the blast in Beirut port a year ago. Why?
Good for Europe, bad for the rest?
01 August 2021
The Green Deal was first announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in December 2019. This “jobs and growth agenda for Europe” was the talk of the town in Brussels. “They can’t do it” was the talk of the town in Ankara. It simply seemed too radical, too disruptive.
Afghan exodus reaches Turkey
25 July 2021
Afghanistan is very rich in pomegranates. Afghans call it by the Persian word for pomegranate, “anar.” We in Turkey chop off the first letter and call it “nar.” The fruit is considered to be the symbol of abundance. As children’s riddle goes: “At the market, I bought one, at home I had a thousand. What is it?” There are actually parts of northern Afghanistan, especially where Turkish is almost enough to get one by on the street.
Back to basics in Cyprus?
20 July 2021
Cyprus gained its independence from Britain in 1960. Since then, we have had a simmering conflict between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities of the island. There has always been intercommunal talks to ease the inherent tensions, but they all failed to bring lasting peace.