Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘construction

The Turkish state-construction complex

leave a comment »

I’ve made only passing remarks about the tentacles of the Turkish construction industry before, so here’s something more in-depth from an insightful Turkish ABD in Germany.

And having spent a good deal of time in Ankara, I can attest to the accuracy of not only the attitudes toward gecekondus, but also TOKİ’s cringeworthy, unaesthetic response.

The abstract follows. Read the whole article.

Islamists, State and Bourgeoisie: The Construction Industry in Turkey
İsmail Doğa Karatepe; Neoliberalism in Turkey (conference); Oct. 28, 2013


This short study is designed to explore the three crucial elements of construction boom that Turkey has experienced since 2002, when the islamist/conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to the power. I claim that the construction boom and its impacts in general appear to be outcome of the certain composition of following elements. First element is the regarded relation between GDP and the construction industry with its supposedly strong linkages with other industries such as transportation, manufacturing etc. The second element is the waxing involvement of subsequent AKP governments. Since AKP swept the victory in Turkey’s parliamentary elections with an overwhelming majority, the governments’ direct involvement into the construction industry has been drastically expanded. Concerning the increasing government activities in the construction industry, a public agency, the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI) deserves special attention. The administration, which had been initially established to carry out social housing projects in the year 1984, became a significant actor in the construction industry. Last but not least, clientelistic networks between AKP and certain bourgeois fraction have been conducive to rapid construction wave. The clientelistic networks as such favor certain capital groups that are ideologically close to islamist/conservative politics. However, discussing these three elements does not mean that some structural elements are neglected while evaluating the boom. In contrast, it is argued that financially dependent accumulation pattern of Turkey, and increasing role of finance in the construction industry along with the tendencies towards restructuring/recommodifying of urban areas at global level has constituted the suitable structural circumstances for the boom.

. . .

Written by M. James

November 2, 2013 at 9:22 pm

They meant well

with one comment

A long definition of "futility."

A long definition of “futility.”

One of the takeaways from Peter Van Buren’s We Meant Well is that billions of dollars were willfully wasted in the chronically short-sighted “Reconstruction” of Iraq. Though for the most part Van Buren is unable to account for where much of that money goes, there are some hints. Here’s one of my favorites, echoing not only Joseph Heller’s Milo Minderbinder, but also a prior post (pp. 66–67):

The Engineer confirmed that the plant processed no sewage, though he and his twenty-eight workers remained on the payroll. He showed us the Korean Daewoo TV and Dell laptop a US Army unit had given him. He watched the TV all day but was not sure what to do with the laptop, so it was unplugged and dusty. He had left the filmy plastic in place on everything, even the TV screen. It made the devices look sad.

Although no redevelopment had been done, the Belgian and Japanese money was still sitting in an account somewhere. However, the Belgian and Japanese governments were not interested in visiting the sewage plant. The Belgians had no embassy in Iraq and seemed a little surprised the project was still on the table. The Japanese rarely left their tidy enclave in the Green Zone and certainly were not coming out to a sewage plant no one remembered promising to pay for in 2004. The Belgian and Japanese engineering companies, on the other hand, were still interested in making money, though neither cared to send any staff to Iraq and instead were soliciting bids from local Iraqis to do the work. The Engineer was confident they would do a good job, because most of the Iraqi companies bidding were fronts for Turkish construction firms, who would bring in Arabic-speaking engineers from Jordan. Proud of this Coalition of the Willing, the Engineer noted that few Iraqis would have an important role on the project. We Americans would help by being the eyes and ears on the ground for the Belgian and Japanese governments, at least until we closed down our ePRT in line with the military drawdown. Bids would arrive in a few months, followed by a three-week evaluation period. (Many of the companies bidding were fronts for the same company in Turkey and would file dummy bids against themselves. The Engineer would try to figure out which bids came from the same company and would then use that information to get the lowest price.) As per the 2004 agreement, the companies would leave behind all of the trucks and heavy construction equipment imported to do the work. The Engineer planned to sell these items to raise money for maintenance.

. . .

Overall, the book would make a good read for your next long commute. Especially enjoyable for those with a darker sense of humor.

Written by M. James

July 26, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Turkey

Tagged with , ,

Turkey: sectarian leanings?

leave a comment »

As Turkey becomes the leader in a newly-democratized Sunni-majority Middle East, events like this may become more common (here):

Iraq’s fugitive Sunni vice president, who was sentenced to death on charges of masterminding the murder of rivals, has said the Turkish foreign minister has assured him that he stands by him after the sentencing.

“[Ahmet] Davutoğlu called me and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m with you’,” Tariq al-Hashemi told Turkish Habertürk TV in an interview on Tuesday. “I will never forget this,” the vice president added.

Hashemi fled to Turkey after Iraq’s Shiite-led government issued the charges against him in December, the day after US troops withdrew from the country. He would receive a retrial if he agrees to return to Baghdad, but the vice president has refused, saying he will never get a fair hearing in a Baghdad court.

The next day, NINA reported that Iraq responded by hitting Turkey where it hurts:

Baghdad / NINA /– Trade Ministry announced stopping giving permission or licenses for Turkish companies and stopped enrolling in the registration of its subsidiaries.

But if all goes well, Turkish construction companies—well-represented in Iraq—will soon have plenty of contracts to rebuild from the rubble in post-revolution Syria.

Written by M. James

September 13, 2012 at 4:17 am