Fighting sclerosis in KSA
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.
Why I felt offended by Macron’s remarks
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?
A near-total absence of nation-states in the Middle East
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.
Message well received
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.
08 October 2017
Both Arbil and Barcelona recently held independence referendums. Both overwhelmingly supported independence and both seem to be very serious about moving forward with their decision. Both are angry. The Spanish government handled Barcelona very badly, and Catalans saw the ghost of Franco once again, apparently increasing their determination to declare independence.
What a more inward looking Germany means for Europe
01 October 2017
Over the years, I have become a great fan of “Grand Designs,” a British TV series about home construction. In each episode, the presenter works with a couple in the British Isles to help them build their dream home from scratch. They first find some land, then design the thing and finally have it built.
From Abdüsselam to Masoud Barzani
24 September 2017
American writers in Turkey infamously get their ideas from our taxi drivers, so I make a point of returning the favor when I am in the States. Usually, you say the name of your country and the taxi driver tells you what that name resonates with at the moment in the capitol. This time, learning that I am from Turkey, the driver asked me right away: “What do you think about the vote?” Without waiting for an answer, he blurted out a second one “why is Israel supporting the Kurdish referendum?” This truly is still the political center of the world.
We need a global strategy to help forced migrants
17 September 2017
Forced migration is different from migration per se. Forced migrants leave their countries due to deadly conflicts. There are about 250 million international migrants - people born outside their countries of residence - in the world today. There are almost 66 million forced migrants, and their number is rising.
The Macron plan matters for Turkey
10 September 2017
Looking for a reason why the eurozone was so ineffective in combatting its economic problems? Look at the French inaction in dealing with problems of its own. The country has been lagging behind economically, socially and politically for the past decade, while Germany ploughed ahead to be leader of Europe.
The case for an ASEAN in the Middle East
03 September 2017
Years ago, I participated in a World Bank conference on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, near Amman. The discussion was on corporate governance reforms, a pet subject of the organization at the time. A portfolio manager took the floor, looked at all the international and national bureaucrats, and shattered my vision for development and change.