The streets of the Dardanelles port of Çanakkale were packed with people in a jubilant mood. Beyond the centuries-old forts guarding the strait, Turkish warships rode at anchor on the horizon. Turkish flags of every shape and size waved madly in a wind so strong that the naval manoeuvres and air force fly-bys had to be cancelled.
It was 18 March, Çanakkale Victory and Martyrs Day, when Turkey celebrates the anniversary of the British and French navies’ defeat in their 1915 attempt to force their way to Istanbul, then capital of the Ottoman Empire. On the same day, Turkey also honours the Ottoman soldiers who lost their lives as they beat back Allied forces in the Gallipoli campaign that began on 25 April 1915.… Seguir leyendo »
Sultangazi is an inner-city district of Istanbul located on the European side of the Bosphorus, home to more than a half-million Turkish citizens and 50,000 Syrians. What’s happening there reflects nationwide patterns of refugee integration and assimilation – but also growing impatience among the native population.
The district is a microcosm of Turkish society in terms of faith, ethnicity and political persuasion. Pious Sunni conservatives live next door to left-leaning Alevis; Turkish ultra-nationalists rub shoulders with Kurdish movement sympathisers. There are no formal records of religious affiliation, but locals estimate that 30-40 per cent of Sultangazi’s residents are Alevi and the rest Sunni.… Seguir leyendo »
Paradoxes have always abounded in the relationship between the Turkish military and the country’s politicians. Turkey’s armed forces — or factions within them — have justified their repeated interventions in politics with claims that they are saving the state from corrupt, populist politicians. The political class, for its part, frustrated as its leaders turn rotten, blames its degradation on over-dominant army interventions that keep wrecking the country’s democratic progress.
The recent attempted coup in Turkey was no exception. On Friday night, an email from a Turkish Armed Forces address said, in effect, that the military was breaking the law in order to restore the rule of law.… Seguir leyendo »
When a two-and-a-half year ceasefire collapsed in July 2015, the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – listed internationally as a terrorist organization – entered into a dark, dangerous tunnel from which it will take a great effort for both sides to find a peaceful exit.
The problem is not just that the fighting – the worst since the grim 1990s – had within six months killed around 700 people, including at least 220 civilians, according to the open-source tally of the International Crisis Group (ICG). It is that the achievements of a decade of peace efforts have been lost, causing massive new polarization within Turkey that will be harder than ever to repair.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey voted on Sunday. The results are eye-catching, and certainly worth parsing for a world that awaits explanation. Here are five quick conclusions for a wide audience.
1. After 12 years in power, the tide has turned against Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s apparently unstoppable rise hit a democratic bumper in Turkey’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, despite his presiding over 12 mostly boom years at the top of Turkey’s political system and the fact that his party won more than 40 percent of the vote.
Erdoğan began the election season by setting his followers a goal of winning 400 of parliament’s 550 seats for the Justice and Development Party (AKP).… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey’s foreign relations, particularly with European capitals and Washington, have been plagued for decades by the debate of whether to use the term genocide in reference to the massacres and forced relocation of the Armenian community of Anatolia from 1915 to 1918.
The debate has led to an annual drama around the Armenians’ memorial day, April 24, with Ankara confronting Armenian campaigns over symbolic statements. This year, on the centenary of 1915, Pope Francis joined the fray, reflecting that the mass killings are now “widely considered the first genocide of the twentieth century.”
The top echelons of the Turkish government and foreign ministry declared the papal statement a distortion of history, discrimination against Turks and Muslims, and inconsistent with legal and historical facts.… Seguir leyendo »
Last month, the Turkish justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, announced a government project to establish separate prisons for the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates. According to Mr. Bozdag’s written statement, the goal is to protect these inmates from abuse. This was not the first time Ankara has floated the idea: The Justice Ministry proposed plans last July for facilities for “people in L.G.B.T. situations.”
Turkey’s penal system is underfunded and overcrowded. Correction officers are poorly trained, and disciplinary measures arbitrarily implemented. Rape is common and access to health care is inadequate. Establishing dedicated L.G.B.T. prison facilities will do nothing to solve these larger problems.… Seguir leyendo »