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.
Why the voluntary humanitarian admission scheme?
07 September 2017
Amnesty International said about the Central Mediterranean route that "If the second half of this year continues as the first and urgent action is not taken, 2017 looks to become the deadliest year for the deadliest migration route in the world." In the first seven months of this year, 2,221 people lost their lives en route, mind you. The alarm bells are ringing in Brussels, and all eyes are on the fleet of dinghies crossing from Libya to Italy.
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.
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.