Why Turkey is no Brazil
14 May 2016
Political tensions are high, both in Brazil and Turkey. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s President, was impeached this week. Yet Turkey is no Brazil. Let me explain. When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was the President of Brazil, I used to make comparisons between him and Erdoğan. Why? First, they both came to power in 2003. Erdoğan became the Prime Minister and Lula the President. Second, they both come from poor backgrounds, having journeyed from the so-called “periphery” to the “center”. Third, both Brazil and Turkey have become more inclusive countries under their leadership.
Turkey is losing its natural resistance against ISIS
09 May 2016
ISIS does not have a strong base in Turkey. Claiming the opposite would be an exaggeration and does not reflect reality. Foreign fighter numbers in Syria also prove this. The number of fighters from Turkey who joined the war in Syria is estimated at 2,000-2,500. Moreover, it cannot be said that all of them joined ISIS.
Executive authority and political leadership: Where the twain shall meet
07 May 2016
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had a choice this week: Either define a modus operandi for cohabitation a la Turca, or step down. He chose the latter. Davutoğlu had the opportunity to help shape the new normal after the first popularly-elected president took office. He did not use it. Given our current constitutional setting, a president elected by slightly more than 50 percent of the popular vote and a prime minister elected by slightly less than 50 percent of the vote could only mean trouble. Why? Let me explain.
The Theological Battle Between ISIL and The Turkish State
04 May 2016
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) recently declared Mehmet Görmez, the head of Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs – the “Diyanet” as it is often referred to – an apostate. The Diyanet is in charge of Turkey’s nation-wide network of mosques, making this an attack on mainstream Sunni Islam in Turkey. The third issue of ISIL’s Turkish-language magazine argued that the Diyanet was Turkey’s tool of “adjusting the religion of Islam to the new religion of secularism.” The article featured photos of Görmez with the Pope and the Bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as photos of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secularizing leader of modern Turkey, all of which, to ISIL, is akin to shaking hands with the devil. “The mosques of Diyanet are these people’s schools of jahiliya [t
What Gazans need
30 April 2016
Gaza has many problems. Yet when the UN asked nearly 16,000 displaced Gazan households what type of information they wanted more of, they responded with some predictable things, like updates on checkpoint crossings, the security situation, issues relating to food or water. But one problem that overshadowed all others was that Gazans seemed to be chafing under the never-ending reconstruction of their small territory. They felt like they didn’t know what was going on. 92 percent of Gazans would like to be more informed about what is happening in the reconstruction process. The status of crossings, commonly thought of as the most important aspect of Gazan daily life, by comparison, only 64 percent want more information about. This was in the April report of the United Nations on Gaza.
What Gaza needs
23 April 2016
I first visited Gaza in 2003, which was only 10 years after the Oslo Accord. The late Ariel Sharon was either about to, or had newly announced his plans for Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. It took him a while to convince everybody to take Israeli settlements out of Gaza. Disengagement started in 2005.
Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees
16 April 2016
I was in Washington, DC this week. Having attended multiple panels on the region, I heard so many negative things about the current state of affairs in Turkey. Especially the word “vexation” was used so many times with reference to Turkey. Speaking to concerned observers, I just point out the latest survey results of Turkish Statistics Institution. The institution has announced just yesterday that the fertility rate among Turkish women in 2015 has declined to 2.14. In 2016, the expectation is for this rate to further decline to 2.1.
A more unconventional monetary policy in Turkey?
09 April 2016
When developing Asia was in crisis in the 1990s, the world valiantly upheld monetary orthodoxy. Then Europe went into crisis in 2008, world leaders came up with unconventional monetary policy. That’s when we all learned about monetary easing and negative interest rates. So the poor were forced into discipline, while the rich can indulge in “helicopter money”. Well, guess what? Turkey’s leaders may now want some of that sweet “unconventional” stuff too.
The Syrian Civil War and the End of Turkey's Liberal Dream
04 April 2016
In the second of a two-part series, a Turkish analyst describes his country’s strategic character, and how it is changing through its contact with the Syrian Civil War.
Turkey is losing hope
02 April 2016
Nobody in Turkey talks about the 2023 targets anymore. Remember the days when Turkey had an ambitious, but doable plan? I do. I had much to criticize back then, but at least there were policies to criticize. Looking back, I kind of miss those days.