28east

Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘Erdoğan

New troughs

with 2 comments

A bold new low.

Written by M. James

January 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , ,

The winds of change

leave a comment »

Two truly unique events have transpired over the past week in Turkish politics, which has been otherwise marked by arrests, investigations, dismissals, resignations, an assassination, and a call, from within the party, for Erdoğan to resign.

The first unique event is Gülen’s heretofore unprecedented diatribe. The second is the AKP’s outright implication of the U.S. in the events of the last week (e.g., from today).

The “facts” are now widely available in your favorite newspaper, so I won’t go into detail. Here’s a good executive summary.

And here’s a chart worth watching in the coming months.

TL-D

Worst ratio since 1981.

Written by M. James

December 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , ,

Power: consolidating

leave a comment »

As the “Balyoz coup plot case” reaches a symbolic end(?), whisperings emerge that “Erdogan intends to run for president” in 2014. No surprises here—just a confirmation that Turkey is continuing on a fairly stable path to a local and regional consolidation of business-driven power. Read here:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is going to run for president in the upcoming elections, mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas said on Monday, the newspaper Haber7 reported.

Earlier, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag announced that the presidential elections are scheduled for August 2014.

Topbas stressed that municipal elections are scheduled for 2014. The mayor said that he will run for the head of the Istanbul municipality for the third time.

Written by M. James

September 24, 2012 at 9:23 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with

Quaint? Firm? Aggressive?

leave a comment »

Like a Rorschach Test—one can interpret it however one likes. The Turkish media has certainly had a field day with Obama and his “huge” baseball bat.

nationalturk.com

Written by M. James

August 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , ,

Bhadrakumar on Syria

leave a comment »

In the following article, M. K. Bhadrakumar posits that Syria is moving toward the decisive phase, and that Israel—rather than Turkey—will be entrusted with the lion’s share of post-Assad security. Furthermore, many actors in the region are being brought together by an energy opportunity involving the U.S., Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria, and Turkey.

Is this the solution to Turkey’s “Kurdish problem” in Syria?

The rise and fall of Turkey’s Erdogan
M. K. Bhadrakumar; Asia Times Online; Jul. 24, 2012

In the ultimate analysis, the US holds many trump cards, finessed through the Cold war era, to manipulate Turkish policies. This is quite evident from the centrality attached by Washington to the Iraqi Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, in the overall US strategy.

Obama received Barzani in the White House recently. Barzani has become a “lynchpin” in the US-Turkish policies on Syria. This was within months of ExxonMobil signing up in October to develop the fabulous oil fields located in the Kurdistan region controlled by Barzani, ignoring protests from Baghdad that such a deal with a provincial authority bypassing the central government would violate Iraq’s sovereignty.

Last week, the US oil giant Chevron announced that it too has acquired an 80% controlling share in a company operating in the region covering a combined area of 1,124 square kilometers that is under Barzani’s control.

The entry of ExxonMobile and Chevron is a game-changer in the regional politics over Syria. The point is, the best transportation route to the world market for the massive oil and gas deposits in Kurdistan will be via the Syrian port city of Latakia on the eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, an altogether new dimension to the US-Turkish game plan on Syria comes into view.

Siyah Kalem, a Turkish engineering and construction company, has bid for the transportation of natural gas from Kurdistan. Evidently, somewhere in the subsoil, the interests of the Anatolian corporate business (which has links with Turkey’s ruling Islamist party) and the country’s foreign policy orientations toward Syria and Iraq are converging. The US and Turkish interests overlap in the geopolitics of northern Iraq’s energy reserves.

But Barzani is not only a business partner for Washington and Ankara but also a key agent who could leverage Turkey’s Kurdish problem. With Washington’s backing, he has launched a project to bring together the various Kurdish factions – Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian – on to a new political track.

He held a meeting of the Kurdish factions in Arbil last month. Plainly, Barzani tried to bribe the leaders of various Kurdish factions with funds provided from Ankara. He claims he has succeeded in reconciling the different Kurdish groups in Syria. (The Kurdish insurgency in Turkey is led by ethnic Syrian Kurds.) He also claims to have persuaded the Syrian Kurds to snap their links with Bashar and line up with the Syrian opposition.

Written by M. James

July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , , , ,

Gülen declines invitation

leave a comment »

Gülen says prefers staying longer in US to avoid ‘harming positive things’
Today’s Zaman; Jun. 17th, 2012

Turkish and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has said he prefers staying in the US longer to avoid damaging positive developments in Turkey in a first public response to Turkish prime minister’s invitation to Turkey.

Written by M. James

June 17, 2012 at 4:34 am

Syria: On your mark, get set…

leave a comment »

I outlined in my last post the reasons to believe that Bashar al-Assad is on the way out. First, the Saudis are now overtly arming the opposition; and second, the U.S. and Turkey are overtly providing “nonlethal” assistance, a vacuous claim in the face of the undoubtedly coordinated effort with Saudi Arabia.

The real significance is in the first event, however, which establishes an ethnic Arab mandate for NATO to latch on to. This anti-Assad mandate has only been strengthened today by Syria’s “rejection” of “any Arab League initiative” to end the crisis. Bashar al-Assad, already ostracized by the Arab community, will now be perceived as completely beyond reason. He is, effectively, no longer an Arab.

The second event, “nonlethal” assistance, is just a first step toward a now-plausible Plan B—NATO troops on the ground (they’re getting ready). But Plan A is still in effect, and the training, assisting, and arming of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) will continue in Turkey. But even more important will be the training of the Syrian National Council (SNC), which has been officially chosen as the sole representative of the Syrian opposition. Though some assure us that the Syrians are well-equipped for a government restructuring, actions have thus far spoken louder than words. The SNC will have all it can do to convince the world it isn’t just another Libyan NTC.

At the moment, though, there is one missing piece. The Turks, the dogs that barked but wouldn’t bite, suddenly seem ready to bite—after a timely meeting from President Obama. But it would be an oversight to say that the Saudis’ lethal assistance in Syria was the Turks’ breaking point. Although the Turks are not ethnic Arabs, and (given their Ottoman past, especially) need the Arab mandate just as much as the rest of NATO, they have also been undoubtedly fearing one particular result of regime collapse in Syria.

Kurds.

And here’s more reason for the Turks to be afraid:

Most of the opposition factions present signed the statement [to recognize the SNC as the formal representative of the Syrian people] except for a few representatives of Kurdish factions upset over the absence of a reference to a settlement for Kurdish Syrians.

So why, suddenly, is Turkey sending its generals to the Syrian border, hosting the SNC conference, and smiling in the face of Syrian anarchy—and unhappy Kurds?

I imagine it has something to do with what Obama said during that “one-hour and 45 minute meeting” with Erdoğan.

Bashar al-Assad knew that his regime’s collapse would change things in the Middle East. We are about to find out what he meant.

Written by M. James

March 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Islamism drives Turkish foreign policy

leave a comment »

What Drives Turkish Foreign Policy?
Svante E. Cornell; Middle East Quarterly; Winter 2012

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) was reelected to a third term in June 2011. This remarkable achievement was mainly the result of the opposition’s weakness and the rapid economic growth that has made Turkey the world’s sixteenth largest economy. But Ankara’s growing international profile also played a role in the continued public support for the conservative, Islamist party. Indeed, in a highly unusual fashion, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began his victory speech by saluting “friendly and brotherly nations from Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Amman, Cairo, Sarajevo, Baku, and Nicosia.”[1] “The Middle East, the Caucasus, and the Balkans have won as much as Turkey,” he claimed, pledging to take on an even greater role in regional and international affairs. By 2023, the republic’s centennial, the AKP has promised that Turkey will be among the world’s ten leading powers.

At the same time, Turkey’s growing profile has been controversial. As Ankara developed increasingly warm ties with rogue states such as Iran, Syria, and Sudan while curtailing its once cordial relations with Israel and using stronger rhetoric against the United States and Europe, it generated often heated debates on whether it has distanced itself from the West. Turkey continues to function within the European security infrastructure—although more uneasily than before—but has a rupture with the West already taken place, and if so, is it irreversible?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by M. James

December 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm

The best-laid “Plans” of Erdoğan

with 2 comments

It’s all happened so quickly:

The UN report on the Mavi Marmara incident was released, Israel didn’t apologize or make reparations, and Turkey promptly made good on its threats, putting into action “Plan B,” (which already demanded an end to the Gaza blockade) and now “Plan C.” Then Erdoğan ratcheted up the rhetoric, saying that the Israeli government is “the biggest obstacle against peace in the Middle East”  and that recognizing a Palestinian state in the UN is “not an option, [but] an obligation.” He said this in Cairo, of all places, at an Arab League summit. Quite a way to kick off his “‘Arab Spring’ tour.”

T-shirts and memorabilia available. But no concessions. (Reuters)

When Erdoğan was talking about having “Plans,” he wasn’t kidding. The plan for the last few weeks has clearly been drafted, redrafted, and drafted again. And Erdoğan has been executing it flawlessly. Israel is, all of a sudden, very alone as it faces the serious danger of a resentful (is that even the word?) Palestinian state springing up next door.

But how long, exactly, has this been in the works?

The following is from a post by Howard Eissenstat, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History at St. Lawrence University. He claims that the Islamic Turkish NGO,  The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), has a very close working relationship with the AKP:

Despite claims that it had no role to play, there is little question that the Turkish government supported the flotilla, facilitating the IHH’s purchase of the Mavi Marmara ferryboat from the AKP-controlled Istanbul Municipal Government.

But why, oh why, would the Turkish government support the fateful voyage of the Mavi Marmara? Could it be that they knew exactly what they were doing?

Although the flotilla was certainly designed to prompt a confrontation that would embarrass Israel and weaken the embargo of Gaza, it seems unlikely that anybody had foreseen Israel’s clumsy attack on the flotilla, which left nine activists killed and dozens injured. Despite the high human costs, however, Turkey had the excuse it needed to finally end an awkward alliance with Israel, while its moral stature in the region was now unparalleled.

Before the Mavi Marmara even set sail from Antalya in May, 2010, the “Plans” were drawn up. And what ended up happening on May 31 was probably even better than Erdoğan could have hoped, a real (as real as it could have been) reason to start dropping some diplomatic dead weight. With Turkey’s former strategic relationship with Israel no longer in line with its own nebulous East-leaning agenda, it was time to stop pretending that cooperating with Israel was a possibility.

And as the vote for Palestinian statehood looms, we come to appreciate even more the well-orchestrated performance that Turkey has given us. Perfect timing—almost as if they… “Planned” it.

Autographs after the show. Rock on, Erdoğan.

Written by M. James

September 15, 2011 at 12:15 am

Mavi Marmara: No end in sight

with 2 comments

A fun excerpt from an informative (if nothing else) AJE opinion piece on the ever-present MV Mavi Marmara issue:

The position of the Turkish ambassador to Israel is one that has been traditionally characterised by ups and downs, both figurative and literal. At a January 2010 meeting in Jerusalem, for example, then-ambassador Oguz Celikkol was deliberately seated at a lower altitude than his Israeli interlocutors, who were displeased with the portrayal of Mossad in the popular Turkish television series Kurtlar Vadisi or Valley of the Wolves.

The Israeli government eventually apologised for the treatment of Celikkol, setting the dangerous precedent that is perhaps to thank for Erdogan’s current conviction that Israel can indeed be made to apologise for things.

Failing an Israeli apology (which apparently constitutes a “Plan A”), Erdoğan has a backup plan:

As for the “Plan B” that Erdogan has threatened to pursue if Israel fails to issue an apology, compensate fatalities, and cease blockading Gaza, the Turkish newspaper HaberTurk lists the components of this plan, which are said to include a visit to Gaza next month by Erdogan, a suit against the Israeli government and relevant soldiers, and a reduction in defense cooperation and economic ties. 

Turkey will additionally refrain from reinstalling an ambassador in Tel Aviv, a post that has been vacant since the Mavi Marmara incident, and will refuse to accept a replacement Israeli ambassador to Turkey when the current one terminates his stint in September.

Erdoğan must know that his “Plan B” (apparently an apology from Israel constitutes a “plan”) will be hard to take too seriously. The last thing Israel will do is stop the blockade.

But PM Erdoğan will, as he is known to do, continue shaking his fist—if only for his constituency.

Written by M. James

August 31, 2011 at 12:31 am