Arbil is no Barcelona
27 August 2017
Both Arbil and Barcelona are going to hold independence referenda in less than a month. Arbil set the date for Sept. 25 and Barcelona for Oct. 1. The former is on the independence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) from Iraq, and the latter on the independence of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia from Spain. Both Baghdad and Madrid are fiercely opposed to the plans of their regional governments. Despite the similarities however, it is worth pondering the considerable differences between them.
The case for realism in Turkey-Europe relations
20 August 2017
“Not a day has passed in Turkey without a domestic security operation against an active ISIL cell,” a security expert noted the other day. “Just follow the news.” We had been talking about the Barcelona terror attack, but the conversation was coming back to Turkey very quickly.
From the Adriatic Sea to the Great Wall of China
13 August 2017
I recently read Henry Kissinger’s remarks in June about Turkey. I compare it to what he said about Turkey back in 1992, and the difference within the 25 years is heartbreaking. Developments in Syria are poisoning Turkey’s intimate relations with its allies. Let me elaborate.
How it begins, how it ends
06 August 2017
I borrowed the title of today’s column from an old essay by the late Umberto Eco. The Western reaction to the Gülenist putsch attempt in Turkey last year made me go back to it. Eco was a columnist for Il Verri, an Italian literary magazine, between 1959 and 1961. “How to travel with a Salmon & Other Essays” is a translated English language collection of his essays from that period. Just have a look at this particular essay and see what I mean.
Turkey and Germany need to increase bandwidth
23 July 2017
“How dare you consider vacationing in Turkey with my children?” said a wife to her husband in the back of a Berlin taxi. At least that’s what the driver – who was of Turkish origin - told me afterwards. This driver was anxious, eager to talk about what he and many others feel is a growing anxiety between the Turks and the Germans in that country.
Why do Turks smile less than before?
09 July 2017
“There is something rotten in the state of Denmark” says Marcellus in the first act of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Living in Ankara, I can relate to that. Gallup’s 2017 Global Emotions Report was recently released and I can see an interesting trend. Every year, fewer Turks answer the question “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?” affirmatively. Last year, half of the respondents said they had smiled or laughed on the previous day. This year, it’s just 38 percent.
‘Unbelling’ the cat in Cyprus
02 July 2017
In Aesop’s Fables, a group of mice get together to discuss how to rid themselves of the danger of the cat. After much discussion, they decide to put a bell on it, so that they can hear it when it approaches. Who though, the question then becomes, will bell the cat? The moral of the story is that it is relatively easy to agree on what should be done, but much harder to make the sacrifice when executing the task.
Is Turkey growing faster in 2017?
25 June 2017
“People who love sausage and people who believe in justice should never watch either of them being made.” So said Otto von Bismarck, the great German statesman of the 19th century, according to legend.
Qatari investments in Turkey: An urban legend
18 June 2017
The sudden embargo on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates perplexed us all this month. It was a half-baked regional response to the half-baked American ideas presented during President Donald Trump’s recent visit. The tiny Qatar is probably going to resist a bit to preserve its dignity, but will eventually have to bow to the powers that be. The Turkish response to the crisis has been more clear-cut. Ankara stands by Qatar, its seemingly closest friend in the region; that much is clear. The motivations for that stance are more interesting. Why is Turkey so vocal on this point?
Trump's Paris decision is bad for technological development
04 June 2017
No wonder Elon Musk left his advisory role in the Trump White House. Trump’s Paris decision is not only bad for life on this planet, but also for the pace of technological change. In spite of the Bannon Royal Family and Republican factions in the Trump White House, none of them seem to be concerned with the economy or technological development. That is bad for us all.