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    Why promote the ex-Marxist Öcalan as a devout Muslim?
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 10 January 2013
    The Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have started negotiating again. Several difficulties lie ahead. In addition to regional political uncertainties and psychological pressures stemming from the harsh debates in domestic politics, there are risks related to the PKK itself. However, we must consider the dominant characters of the leaders at the table.Today, I’d like to focus on Öcalan in terms of the outcome of the negotiation process. Despite being imprisoned since 1999, Öcalan is still powerful and holds the reins of the PKK both due to its organizational culture and his authoritarian personality.One factor that will affect the negotiation process will be the personality war of two leaders with big egos. Öcalan owes his power to his 4 [More]
    Negotiations with the PKK and Erdoğan’s difficulties
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 03 January 2013
    Erdoğan is faced with the dilemma of his ambition to become president and the bargaining with the PKK. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially announced that negotiations with outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan are continuing. Apparently, the government saw that the developments could not be managed either with the current form or with the current means. [More]
    State and substate actors in Turkey: Which has more intelligence?
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 27 December 2012
    The bugging devices found in Prime Minister Erdoğan’s office triggered a debate on the Turkish intelligence services. To understand this story, we need historical background. The capacity, organization and roles of Turkey’s intelligence services generally depend on domestic political struggles rather than international intelligence competition. For instance, during the 1960s and ‘70s the police was weak, ideologically divided and incapacitated against leftist, right-wing and ethnic terrorism. After the 1980 coup, the army forced the government to preserve the unity of the police against ideological division, strengthen its discipline and increase its intelligence, operational and technical capacities. The capacity of the police significantly increased in the decade following the [More]
    The meaning of ‘terrorist’ for the US and Turkey
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 20 December 2012
    There seems to be no consensus between the allies regarding the political projections, risk perceptions and the identities of the future actors of the post-al-Assad period. Everyone knew that the developments in Syria would have different and important effects on the features, positions, roles and relations of states and non-state actors. As the conflict spread and deepened, all actors began to act not only in line with ideological motivations, but also in accordance with their interests and with the intention of minimizing the negative effects of the developments. They are trying to understand and participate in the developments. The debate over the post-al-Assad period continues behind closed doors. [More]
    ‘German Patriots’ and ‘the five-star hotel operation’ for Syria
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 13 December 2012
    The sponsorship needs of the Syrian opposition will test the medium-term capacity of intelligence organizations, armies, countries and alliances. The Turkish government seems to have guaranteed the deployment of the air defense systems it demanded from NATO. The missiles will most likely be deployed at the beginning of the new year. Germany, one of the countries that will supply the missiles, has so far been careful not to be too conspicuous with respect to the Syrian crisis. However, it accepted the NATO plan without any objections. Considering the fact that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is on the outs with Chancellor Angela Merkel, it is interesting to see that there are no objections coming from Germany. Behind this silent agreement probably lies the desire of German so [More]
    Turkey’s Syria bargain with Russia
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 06 December 2012
    It is very difficult to provide a complete analysis of Turkey’s relations with Russia. Numerous contradictory factors shape these relations. Interestingly, as interests broaden and deepen, contradictions intensify. Hence, the difficulty in understanding which factor has currently gained priority and which has become strategically more determining.We can look at some prominent aspects of Turkey-Russia relations. First of all, there is an attractive area of interdependency which is becoming more influential in various fields like economy, the nuclear plant issue, energy, trade and tourism. This interdependency is currently worth $35 billion and it is expected to reach the $100 billion threshold. In other words, we should expect the interdependency to increase. The second aspect is [More]
    Kurds, Arabs and Turks
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 29 November 2012
    It will be no surprise if Turkey ends up being the most confused actor in such a scenario in which Kurds and Turkmens, half of them Shiite, will be facing Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs. The United States left many problems behind when it withdrew from Iraq. Leaving the disputed territory of Kirkuk to Iraqis was especially problematic. Since the withdrawal, the country has been facing serious challenges. [More]
    Israel’s Gaza operation and the PKK problem
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 22 November 2012
    Öcalan’s role was downplayed by the Turkish media, which is busying itself with a less risky subject: Israel’s Gaza operation. This is not a piece about the effects of Israel’s counter-insurgency experiences on Turkey’s strategies regarding the struggle against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Nevertheless, this is not to say that the Gaza operation does not come in handy for the Turkish government in its efforts to manage the PKK problem. [More]
    Erdoğan and his capacity to manage the PKK problem
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 15 November 2012
    The management of the PKK problem by the Erdoğan government is more difficult and costly compared to the early years of the AKP rule. The behavior of the Turkish government is similar to that of other governments struggling with similarly complex problems. This behavior entails biding time and hoping that favorable political and psychological conditions will prevail and demands become more acceptable. Of course, the best solution for the government is to manage the process with minimum costs. However, this strategy has its own limits and risks, especially when the number of actors increases and their uncontrollable behavior breeds uncertainty, or when the credibility of decision makers is low due to their inability to fulfil promises. [More]
    How can Turkey buy into the federal Syria idea?
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 08 November 2012
    The opposition groups in Syria are still in disarray. Since most of the political and military organizations are “fabricated,” there is no prospect for a united political-military front. They have no capacity to carry the “revolution” to the next phase.Moreover, this incapacity is damaging not only the “future of the revolution,” but also the “ideology of democracy and freedom” and its allies. As armed groups commit “war crimes,” both the legitimacy of the struggle and the regional faith in “democracy” are being questioned. Let’s not forget the jihadists who are taking root in the region by systematically using violence which, in civil war, forces everyone to join a group.These concerns are definitely shared by the politicians of the United States and the United Kingdom. They fe [More]