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    Why Turkey needs the constitutional commission
    Güven Sak, PhD 20 February 2016
    The Interparty Parliamentary Panel tasked with drafting a new constitution, also known as the “Constitutional Commission,” lasted only three sessions. “This commission has ended.” İsmail Kahraman, the Speaker of the Parliament allegedly said in that ill-fated last meeting. These reports have not been refuted, so I assume they reflect reality. I find this a grave mistake, first of all, on the part of the Speaker himself. It was his task to keep the flame flickering, but it appears as though he is having difficulty in understanding the immensity of the task he was entrusted with. A pity. PM Davutoğlu, realizing the importance of the commission, is struggling to salvage the ship sunk by the incompetence of its captain. [More]
    Get ‘Gershad’ to dodge the morality police in Iran
    Güven Sak, PhD 13 February 2016
    I was overjoyed the other day to hear that Iranian youths have developed a mobile app that helps people dodge the patrols of Ershad, Iran’s morality police. The Ershad check whether Iranian citizens’ outfit or makeup undermines the social order: If a woman’s headscarf reveals too much of her hair, for example, she gets told to cover up properly.There are two types of governments in the world: Governments that send around mobile traffic police patrols and governments that send around mobile morality police patrols. The first is a service to the people; the second is an attempt to control them. Unfortunately, governments in our region have a fascination with sartorial habits. The Kemalists were allergic to headscarves and made people wear Western-style hats; the Islamists infamous [More]
    Policy reforms in Turkey and Iran
    Güven Sak, PhD 06 February 2016
    Today there are two types of countries in our region, the Middle East and North Africa. Within these two categories there are countries that are functioning market economies and those that aren’t. The first category is rather lonely: only Turkey and Israel have functioning market economies in our neighborhood. In the other countries, you need to get on well with the political elites to gain access to markets. If political relations are down, the best products and services at the best prices won’t be enough to get access. This has significant consequences. If your economy is sputtering while the world around you keeps going, public discontent will sooner or later erupt into protest. I see the election of President Rouhani as the start of a process of pragmatic transformation in Ir [More]
    A new Turkish constitution is good for peace in Syria
    Güven Sak, PhD 30 January 2016
    Turkey’s insistence on the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) not getting an invitation to participate in the Geneva peace talks has made an already messy situation even messier. Yet it is understandable. The PYD was a small Syrian Kurdish organization established by Abdullah Öcalan, the now-jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), during his exile to Damascus in the 1980s. The group has now become the major force in Syrian Kurdistan, getting direct military support from the West. This means that Turkey’s allies are giving a sister organization of the PKK - a separatist outfit they recognize as a terrorist organiztion - direct military support. This has changed the scales of Turkey’s reconciliation process.The Syrian civil war complicated Turkey’s reconciliat [More]
    Will the Kurdish song end here?
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 January 2016
    Is this the end of the Kurdish reconciliation process? Do the aggressive anti-PKK operations in the southeast of the country mean that Turkey is going back to the 1990s? I don’t think so. Why? Simple. Because Turkey in 2016 is different from Turkey in the 1990s in very important ways. It is so different that we will see a new dynamic unfolding this time. Let me explain. [More]
    The Islamic State's Plans for Turkey
    Hilmi Demir & Selim Koru 18 January 2016
    The video “Turkey and the Fire of Racism” begins with a map of 7th-century Arabia, outlining how Islam came to spread to Central Asia, and thereby to the Turks. It then goes into a narrative of how the Turks have turned their back on Islam in favor of national ties, and the decline they have suffered as a consequence. The 17-minute, high-definition propaganda piece features fancy animations, militants the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) talking into the camera, and idyllic cut scenes, all delivered in crisp Istanbul Turkish, save one Kurdish portion. [More]
    Is a bon pour L’Orient governance enough for Turkey?
    Güven Sak, PhD 16 January 2016
    Turkey belongs to the Middle East. So said 58% of participants to a recent Kadir Has (Khas) University survey. At first, I was surprised to see this result. Turks usually prefer to see themselves as being part of Europe. We constantly underline our country’s Europeanness, be it in saying that we have the “biggest truck fleet in Europe,” or our membership in the Erasmus student exchange program. But perhaps things are changing. The Khas survey conducted in the first half of this past December indicates the emergence of a new pattern. Let me elaborate. [More]
    Where is Turkey in the Sunni-Shia conflict?
    Güven Sak, PhD 09 January 2016
    With tensions growing between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the sectarian conflict in the Middle East is approaching boiling point. The second American intervention to Iraq altered the long-established balance in our region, and created an environment where sectarianism emerged to the surface. The Arab awakening shattered whatever checks remained. The tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia threaten to escalate this conflict to the state level. [More]
    From Children of the Recession to the Children of Sur
    Güven Sak, PhD 02 January 2016
    The Sur district of Diyarbakır province is under curfew these days. Security forces are trying to take down barricades in the streets, often “manned” by mere teenagers. As important as it is to resolve the security problem, our questions cannot stop there. [More]
    Will Turkey be cautious in 2016, or will it be bold?
    Güven Sak, PhD 27 December 2015
    How do I see Turkey in 2016? That is one of the questions I have been asked frequently in the last few weeks. As New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, let me clarify my position: I consider 2016 to be a trying year for Turkey. Even though the odds will not be in our favor, the overall outcome will heavily depend upon how Turks are going to deal with the issues at hand. So 2016 can either be a year of living boldly or a year of living cautiously for Turks. I think we should all err on the side of caution. [More]