In banks Turks trust
24 March 2019
Looking at the economy these days, there are things that I understand and there are things that I have difficulty in understanding. The recent rapid rise in retail foreign exchange (FX) bank deposit accounts speaks of volumes, if you ask me. Just this week, the government decided to raise the witholding tax rate on interest income from FX accounts. Let me explain what I am hearing, and why all this is important.
All eyez on Turkey
17 March 2019
In December 1995, the American rapper 2Pac (Tupac Amari Shakur) was on MTV, talking about his new album. “It's called All Eyez on Me. That's how I feel it is. I got the police watching me, the Feds... everybody's looking to see what I'mma do now so All Eyez on Me.” That’s what it feels like in Turkey these days.
Conservative debates in Turkey and Germany
10 March 2019
“The times they are-a changin’” sang Bob Dylan in the 1960s. That got to me sometimes. Aren’t they always “a-changin’?” Isn’t that what time is? Not necessarily. The course of human events can slow down and speed up. There is a good argument to be made that today, urbanization and technological innovation are accelerating things faster than at any point in human history. For people who think of themselves as being “conservative,” it makes things complicated. That is why I find debates among conservatives more interesting and more important these days.
Turkey as Einwanderungsland
10 February 2019
I see two important trends shaping the future of the global debate: the first is population aging and the second is migration. It’s an old story in a new setting. People in developed parts of the world are getting older, while young people in poor places are trying to get away from their circumstances. I see a global role for countries like Turkey in shaping the solutions to these problems. Let me explain.
Time to re-engage with Iran
03 February 2019
Have you heard of the testimonies of US intelligence chiefs at a Senate hearing last week? They all said that Iran is not trying to build nuclear weapons. It seems like very good news for our troubled region. Looking for short-term policy implications? It’s time to re-engage with Iran. So the Europeans, together with Turkey, were right and the US and Israel were wrong in their policy recommendations.
Why Brexit is important for Turkey
08 January 2019
Brexit discussions has turned into a farce in the UK. If we consider the referendum itself as a tragedy, Prime Minister May’s handling of the Brexit process has turned it into a comedy. Currently, there is a whole new discussion on how Brexit should be carried out. Interestingly, the current discussions are all UK-centric. However Brexit is more important for Turkey than you may imagine, therefore how they see this process through with the UK is so very important for the EU, too. Let me explain.
Is it just another election season?
30 December 2018
This week minimum wage has increased by 26 percent while household natural gas and electricity prices have declined 10 percent. The President himself has made the announcement. These can be thought kind of a new year’s present for the nation. Turkey is going to have its municipal election in March 2019. You may say that it is just another election season in Turkey? I tend to disagree. This time is different.
Why is the US-China confrontation heating up?
23 December 2018
About ten years ago, it was the Americans who started funding projects to revitalize the old Silk Road - the land route connecting China to Europe. I specifically remember how an American official told me not to waste my time with projects on Israel-Palestine, and to look more closely at Central Asia. People were doing things like sending test containers over silk road train tracks, just to see how much time it would take. Projections at the time made a striking case. Companies – many of them American – were going to reorient their supply chain logistics according to this plan.
China to operate the new port in Haifa
09 December 2018
It’s that time of the year again, when we look back and think about all that’s happened in the past eleven months. So here’s a question: what was the most significant strategic event of 2018? Let me tell you my favorite in the Middle East. In July 2018, the management of the first part of the new port in Haifa was transferred to the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG). Despite President Trump’s ferocious anti-China stance, Israel still decided to give SIPG a 25-year strategic perch in our region. I think this is very important. Let me tell you why.
It’s time to make the G20 work for the Rest
02 December 2018
The G20 Summit started in Buenos Aires, Argentina this week. The G7 represents the West (plus Japan), while the G20 could be thought of as G7 + 13, with the 13 being the representatives of “the Rest.” I remember the Turkish and Chinese Presidencies of the G20 in 2015 and 2016 very vividly. How hopeful we all were to make the G20 more inclusive! To turn it into a mechanism that would bring “the Rest” into the fold! Yet the only news item coming out of the G20 this year appears to be bilaterals, or the occasional drama, like who dares to have their picture taken with the radioactive Saudi crown prince. It is a pity, if you ask me.